Our Take on the “Trust Gap”

It’s the most important part a philanthropic legacy. No matter how a bequest is structured, regardless of its philanthropic intent, and separate from its time horizon there’s the issue of trust.

For your philanthropy to live on after you’re gone, you have to trust someone.

That someone can be a family member, an attorney, or charities themselves.

Yet according to a recent survey from the Better Business Bureau, just 19% of people “highly trust” charities.

Their survey showed that “charities continue to be more respected than many other institutions in America […] but Americans also hold charities to a very high standard that most do not believe they have achieved.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy explains that “closing this persistent trust gap is essential.”

We think that on the trust issue, community foundations have a unique role. A community foundation has a fiduciary duty to honor the philanthropic intent of its fundholders. If an individual leaves a bequest to the Community Foundation of New Jersey to support summer job programs in Middlesex County, those dollars will only go to support summer job programs in Middlesex County.

Additionally, a community foundation – because its loyalty is to the donor’s intent and not specific organizations – can take a hard look at which summer job programs in Middlesex County are the best performing and which ones yield the best return on grant funding. So a community foundation can be trusted to steward a philanthropic legacy both faithfully and effectively.

It’s a unique place in the philanthropic marketplace and we’re happy to explain it in greater detail. We can be a resource to families, professional advisors, and their clients to find high quality charities, even if the gift is not coming to the Communtiy Foundation.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 973-267-5533 or email our president, Hans Dekker, at hdekker@cfnj.org.