CMF Membership Criteria
The Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership association whose members are composed of organizations providing financial philanthropic support for charitable purposes in Michigan. The mission of CMF is to grow the impact of Michigan philanthropy.
If you are interested in joining CMF, please contact us at (616) 842-7080.
CMF Member Principles
As leaders in Michigan philanthropy, members are asked to endorse these Guiding Principles that set forth ideals for each member to strive to achieve, and that demonstrate ethical and effective philanthropy.
We adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior.
We conduct our work with openness and transparency and in full compliance with applicable laws.
We maintain a clear understanding of our founders’ and donors’ vision and intent, and bridge the gap between past and present circumstances to uphold these values in our grantmaking.
We demonstrate and encourage leadership with a governing board that is knowledgeable of and advocates for adherence to best practices in all philanthropic administrative roles.
We build constructive relationships based on mutual respect, candor, confidentiality and understanding with the public, applicants, grantees and donors.
We harness the constructive power of difference through creating a culture that recognizes and values diversity within the philanthropic sector and by striving to offer great opportunities for all.
We support continuous learning of trustees, staff and grantees. Together, we create a community that leverages lessons learned of impact from our philanthropic leadership activities.
We leverage our collective voice, collaborate and educate on critical issues and serve as influential partners with community and government leaders to protect and promote philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.
CMF Member Types
Any organization or individual fulfilling the criteria pertinent to its category (below) is eligible to apply for membership. For purposes of membership in CMF, a fully completed application form is required.
Family & Independent Private Foundations
Private foundations are charitable organizations that are classified as such by the IRS. In practice, they are 501(c)(3) organizations established with funds from a single source or specific sources, such as family or a corporation. Although contributions to private foundations are technically tax deductible, most of these organizations do not accept donations from the general public.
To qualify for membership in CMF, a private foundation must meet the following criteria:
-Be a legally registered 501(c)(3) private operating foundation or non-operating foundation.
-Have an endowment.
-Except for private operating foundations, grantmaking should be the primary purpose of this organization.
Public Foundations & Public Charities
The term "public foundation" refers to a 501(c)(3) organization that has been determined by the IRS not to be a private foundation. Like other public charities, public foundations generally receive their funding from multiple unrelated donors, which may include private foundations, individuals and government grants.
To qualify for membership in CMF, a public charity must meet the following criteria:
-Be a legally registered 501c3 Public Charity.
-Grantmaking to more than a single beneficiary should be the primary purpose of this organization.
- Grantmaking instead of operating programs should be the primary purpose.
Community Foundations, Supporting Organizations and Donor-Advised Funds
A community foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. It is uniquely defined within our membership by being generally organized and operated as a permanent collection of endowed funds for the long-term benefit of a defined geographic area.
To qualify for membership in CMF, a community foundation must meet the following criteria:
-Be a registered 501(c)(3) public charity.
-Have an endowment value of at least $1,000,000.
-Those with more than $5,000,000 must be certified or in the process of completing the National Standards process of the Council on Foundations.
-Support a broad range of charitable activities within the specific geographic area of Michigan that it serves, such as a municipality or county.
-Operate in a county of Michigan that is not served by a current CMF member community foundation.
-Have an independent governing body not appointed by a single entity and is broadly representative of the public interest.
-Have at least one half-time employee (.5 FTE).
-Be in compliance with all state and federal filing and reporting requirements.
A corporation may use a corporate (private) foundation or establish a corporate giving (direct giving) program as their method for providing philanthropic support. In some cases, a corporation may have both a giving program and a foundation. A corporate giving program established and administered within a profit-making company and a separate private foundation with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status are each qualifying entities for this category.
To qualify for membership in CMF, a corporate foundation must meet the following criteria:
-Be a legally registered 501(c)(3) private operating/non-operating foundation.
-Grantmaking should be the primary purpose of this organization, not to solely fund the organization.
Corporate Giving Program
For a corporate giving program, grants go directly to charitable organizations from the corporation. A corporate giving program does not have a separate endowment. Grantmaking is planned as part of the company’s annual budgeting process and it is usually funded with pre-tax income based on the profitability of the company.
To qualify for membership in CMF, a corporate giving program must meet the following criteria:
-Contributions are made by the corporation, not by employees.
-Grantmaking should be a minimum of $5,000 annually.
Corporate Foundation AND Corporate Giving Program
For those corporations that have both eligible corporate giving programs and corporate foundations, CMF recommends joining as one entity based on the combined grantmaking of these organizations. This will allow employees of both organizations to access and maximize CMF member benefits.
Note: IRS self-dealing rules prohibit private foundations (including company foundations formed as private foundations) from entering into a range of financial transactions with disqualified persons, including transactions that provide a tangible economic benefit to a disqualified person. Since a corporation is virtually always a substantial contributor to the foundation it sponsors, it is considered a disqualified person. For that reason, if the foundation and a corporate giving program share a membership in CMF where both could receive tangible benefits, CMF recommends that membership dues be paid by the corporation to remove the legal complexities of self-dealing issues that are otherwise possible.
An individual member is one who supports the mission and work of CMF, has no current private foundation or donor-advised fund at a community foundation and provides financial philanthropic support in an organized, systematic manner. Individuals interested in starting a private or public foundation are also invited to become CMF members under this category.
Individual membership is designed for those who would like access to CMF’s current educational opportunities. The following services are not designed for individual members: Ask CMF, impact investing consultation and legal services.
Individuals who support philanthropic organizations are also invited to join CMF’s new membership option for professional advisors. Please see the Professional Advisor section to read the description of this member type and related criteria.
Individuals with a donor advised fund at a CMF member community foundation may receive member benefits on behalf of the community foundation. The community foundation should submit a request for such access on an individual’s behalf. Once the request has been processed, the individual be will notified when CMF member benefits are available.
Professional advisors support the philanthropic community. Examples of support include legal, financial, strategic and philanthropic advising. Advisors may join CMF either individually or as a firm. CMF highly recommends a firm membership for organizations with more than one person supporting the philanthropic community and if there is a desire to have two or more individuals access CMF membership benefits. An individual membership cannot be transferred to different individuals throughout the year.
To qualify for membership in CMF, a professional advisor must meet the following criteria:
-Serve clients eligible for CMF’s membership.
-Serve clients within the state of Michigan. (This does not require the individual or the firm to be located in Michigan.)
An out-of-state member is an organization otherwise eligible for CMF’s membership but whose headquarters are located in a state other than Michigan. As an out of state member, dues are calculated based on the annual amount of philanthropic support/grants given to organizations within Michigan.