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The Community Foundation of Lorain County is dedicated to enriching the lives of those living and working in Lorain County, Ohio.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Community Foundation of Lorain County?

The Community Foundation of Lorain County is a non-profit organization dedicated to making Lorain County a better place to live and work. Currently the 9th largest in the state of Ohio, the Community Foundation of Lorain County manages about $133 million in donor funds and distributes upwards of $5 million each year in the form of grants and scholarships.

Where did the Foundation come from?

The Community Foundation was created in 1980 with a challenge grant of $500,000 from the Nordson Foundation. Interested citizens raised more than $1 million to match the challenge. The Nordson Foundation staffed the Community Foundation until 1987 when the organization's first executive director was hired.

Who’s in charge?

The Community Foundation is a public charity governed by a 21 member Board of Directors, each of whom serves a four-year term renewable for a second term. Board members reflect the diversity of this community and are elected through a nomination process. The Foundation is managed by a professional staff of eleven individuals dedicated to making Lorain County a better place to live and work.

Where does the money come from?

Anyone can be a donor to the Community Foundation. Donors may be individuals, families, groups, businesses, non-profit agencies, schools, churches and synagogues. More than 2,000 donations are received each year, and gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Donors may choose to set up new funds or contribute to one of our existing funds.

How do I set up a fund?

With a gift of $10,000, a donor can establish a named fund ($25,000 for scholarship funds) for almost any charitable purpose (elder care, environmental issues, the arts) and at any of various levels of involvement. Gifts can include cash, stock, insurance - almost any type of asset for which a value can be established. Gifts can also be made in honor or in memory of a loved one.

How do I apply for a grant or a scholarship?

Grants are made to support charitable programs in the areas of Arts & Culture, Civic Affairs, Education, Health, and Social Services. Every year, six separate grant cycles occur, each focused upon a specific category. Please check the grants page to access the appropriate application and check the deadline for submission. Scholarships are made to individual students from Lorain County pursuing education beyond high school, and the application for those awards is also available online. Check the scholarships page for application and deadline information.

How are the Foundation’s assets invested?

The Community Foundation adheres to a comprehensive investment policy that pools all assets to increase investment diversification and reduce costs. The policy calls for:

  • 23% Large Cap Equity
  • 5% Small/Mid Cap Equity
  • 32% International/Global Equity
  • 19% Fixed Income
  • 21% Alternative Investments & Private Equity

The Community Foundation does not make individual stock selections or engage in "timing the market." Instead, it hires investment managers, based upon their expertise, to invest in specific market sectors. The Community Foundation works with an independent consultant to monitor each investment manager's performance.

What are the fees?

The Community Foundation assesses a small amount to help offset administrative and service costs at the Foundation . This amount is 1.15% of the fund's average market value (1.5% for scholarship funds) over twelve trailing quarters. In addition, investment costs of about .65% annually are shared by the member funds. The combined foundation support and investment cost, therefore, totals less than 2% of assets which is well below industry standards. Note however that we always report investment returns net of fees.

How does an endowment fund work?

The Community Foundation invests contributions with the goal of preservation and reasonable annual growth. Each year, a modest portion (4.0-5.5%) of the average market value of each fund is made available for grants and/or scholarships. Earnings in excess of this payout are reinvested into principal to keep the Funds growing so they not only meet the needs of Lorain County today but also in the future. Based upon recent rates of investment return and annual payout for grants, a $10,000 gift will grow to nearly $16,800 over 20 years while simultaneously distributing nearly $13,000 in charitable grants to the community.

Did you know ...

  • Community foundations now exist in more than 46 countries worldwide?
  • There are more than 800 community foundations in the United States?
  • The Cleveland Foundation was the very first community foundation, created in 1914?
  • In terms of assets, The Community Foundation of Lorain County ranks #115 among all U.S. community foundations?



Only wealthy/elite donors use the Community Foundation

Actually, the Community Foundation works with numerous individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofit organizations – there is no special “type” – to facilitate charitable giving.  Donors are students, retirees, skilled laborers, business professionals, teachers, and a host of others. Most live in this county but some send contributions from other states.  In the foundation’s history, the youngest donor was 8 and the most senior donor was just a bit shy of 100 years old.

It takes a lot of money to create a new fund

Even though a fund will not begin to make annual distributions until it reaches the $10,000 level ($25,000 for a scholarship fund), donors are welcome to build the fund over a five-year period.  Some families pool their gifts and build the fund to payout level in much less than five years.

A new fund is the only way to participate

Donors who decide not to create a new fund are welcome to make a gift to one of our existing funds; they might wish to give to a fund previously created by a relative, friend or organization; alternatives for making a gift include special interest funds that support Arts & Culture, Civic Affairs, Education, Health, or Social Services.  Gifts may be made in any amount, by any one, at any time – and all are tax deductible charitable contributions as permitted by law. 

Only local programs can be supported

The Community Foundation was created to benefit programs serving Lorain County residents but some donors also wish to support their Alma Mater or an organization in another part of the country.  In accordance with its mission to encourage philanthropy, the Foundation Board of Directors is amenable to sending as much as 49% of the annual distribution from a named fund to a favored charity outside of Lorain County.

The Community Foundation charges high fees

Not so - The Community Foundation may be the best bargain in town – the annual amount to support the services of the Foundation is just 1.15% (1.5% for scholarship funds), and investment fees paid to the Foundation money managers average about .65%; so for a combined fee of less than 2%, donors enjoy all the investing, reporting, gift planning, and grants due diligence services the Community Foundation provides.  Additionally this support allows the Foundation to engage with many initiatives and efforts to better our community beyond what grants can accomplish.  It truly is an investment in community building.

A private foundation is my only option for involving other family members in “giving back”

A donor advised fund through The Community Foundation is a wonderful, cost-effective method of engaging children/other family members in the grants process.  Any donor advised fund with a balance of at least $100,000 may be passed on to children (one generation) to encourage their involvement in community affairs.



We support innovative programs and act as a catalyst in identifying problems and sharing information with individuals, other foundations, and corporations.

We believe strategy, creativity, and adaptability are keys to thriving in a constantly changing world.

We believe access to the CFLC should be fair, inclusive, and equitable.

We believe in purposeful and collaborative community leadership.

We value community, which we define as putting self aside for the betterment of the whole.

We exercise and promote leadership in meeting the changing needs and opportunities in the community.

We work to mobilize individuals to become active partners in building a better community.

Through our efforts, the Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life and to instill a greater sense of unity in Lorain County.

We value integrity, which we define as always doing the right thing.

We value excellence, which we define as providing the best service to all.

We provide a permanent instrument for receiving and managing charitable gifts and bequests.

We believe the perpetuity of our efforts are linked to sustainable practices.

We believe integrity is our greatest asset and value trust earned with fiscal responsibility, ethical stewardship, and transparency