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Donor Funds and Grantmaking

In 2011, the Sonora Area Foundation awarded over $1.23 million in grants and scholarships to local recipients. Of that amount, $661,000 was awarded from donor funds, including scholarships and other grants suggested by Foundation contributors.

Donors to the Sonora Area Foundation consist of individuals and organizations, whether they are native sons or have relocated to this area from other environs, who are interested in doing what they can to improve the quality of life in our communities. Donors are in fact the cornerstone of any successful community foundation since they are the providers of monetary or material resources for every Foundation fund.

Because the Foundation offers such flexible charitable giving options, you can either create a new fund, which will support specific areas of choice, or make donations to established funds that address your interests. We receive inquiries on a regular basis to find the mission and integrity of a particular organization or to inquire about a community cause or need.

What are donor funds? Donors establish fund accounts with our Foundation for the purpose of addressing their interests for charitable giving. Such fund accounts are usually invested by the Foundation and are not charged administrative fees. The contributions which establish such funds are deductible in the year given subject to the individual donor’s tax situation. They are then granted for worthy cause or need.

The fund account can be tailor-made. For donors wishing a hands-on approach to granting, a Donor Advised Fund is ideal. As the donor of an advised fund, you have the opportunity to be active and involved in suggesting distributions from the fund. The fund can be named for the donor, the family, or a name that reflects the charitable interests. A Donor Advised Fund is an exciting vehicle for donors wishing to fulfill their specific charitable intentions.

What kinds of projects are funded with donor funds? The 170 donor funds currently administered by the Foundation support a broad range of activities including human services; education; arts/culture/humanities; health; public/society benefit; and environment/animals.

So far in 2012, examples of how donor funds grants have helped our community include:

  • A grant of $17,100 to the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office to support the Mad About Science program.
  • A grant of $3,000 to Sierra Nonprofit Services to support the Harvey Chess grant writing workshop.
  • Multiple grants from the Wings Fund to assist families caring for ill or injured Tuolumne County children.
  • Multiple grants from the Tuolumne County Eye Care Fund to help the unmet eye care needs of Tuolumne County residents, capturing the vision of local Lions Clubs.

Creating a donor fund is easy. A fund can be established with a minimum starting contribution of just $1,000. Contributions may include a variety of gifts such as; cash, securities or closely held stock, real estate, or insurance proceeds. Donor Fund Accounts can also be created through a will or trust.

For more information on how you may make a difference and meet your charitable giving goals, contact me at the Foundation office at 362 S. Stewart Street; by telephone at 533-2596; or e-mail at