The Pittsburgh Foundation

Start a Fund

The Pittsburgh Foundation has more than 75 years of experience helping individuals and families make a lasting and powerful difference in the lives of others. As one of the nation’s largest community foundations, we are deeply connected to the most current thinking on effective giving and to the needs of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. When you start a charitable fund with The Pittsburgh Foundation, we can help you realize the power of charitable giving, customize a plan that matches your wishes, and open up the exciting and fulfilling world of philanthropy.


Types of Funds

Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-Advised Funds allow the donor to recommend grants to specific nonprofit organizations (must be a bona fide public charity and are subject to approval by The Pittsburgh Foundation's Board of Directors.) The original donor may also determine what the purpose of the fund will be after the donor's death, or may appoint future advisors (successor advisors) who will advise on its distribution annually.

  • $10,000 minimum to establish
  • Donor/advisor recommends grants to any 501(c)(3) in U.S., approval required by The Pittsburgh Foundation Board
  • Ability to make grants on a weekly basis
  • No minimum payout
  • Expertise of The Pittsburgh Foundation staff available for consultation
  • Built-in peer networking
  • Informational sessions and activities on charitable organizations and issues
  • Unlimited successor advisors
Designated Funds

Designated Funds are component funds whose beneficiaries have been specified by the donor when the fund is established. The Pittsburgh Foundation assumes the oversight responsibility for ensuring that these funds are distributed as the donor intends. Many designated funds name a specific organization.

This type of fund may be established by an individual or couple, a family, a business or any other group of people with shared charitable interests. Establishing a fund will allow you to personally receive a tax deduction, and at the same time benefit your community by advising the Foundation of your charitable intents, in perpetuity.

Designated funds give donors the opportunity to work with the Foundation's professional program staff in determining immediate or long-term needs within our community. Our staff members are knowledgeable about the needs and resources of our area and can help you evaluate proposals or explore new areas of grantmaking.

Field of Interest Funds

Field of Interest Funds provide grants within the overall direction of the donor's areas of interest. This type of fund allows donors to support a broad area of concerns. For example, a donor may be interested in having the fund address grant making that benefits children, the arts or the elderly.

Specific charities would not be named, but all grants from the fund would be directed toward programs that address the field of the donor's interest within the greater Pittsburgh region. 

Agency Endowment

Agency Endowment Funds have a $50,000 minimum to create a new fund. The Pittsburgh Foundation currently manages tens of millions of dollars in endowment funds for nearly 50 local nonprofit organizations. We offer nonprofit organizations the following benefits:

  • Relief from the administrative burden of managing an endowment – all accounting, reporting and gift acknowledgements are handled by the Foundation
  • Reduced risk thanks to The Pittsburgh Foundation's diversification of assets and oversight responsibility
  • The confidence that comes from our professional administration and financial management
  • A reliable source of income
  • The ability to structure, accept and manage complicated charitable gifts
Family Foundation Funds

Family Foundation Funds provide donors and their families with an efficient and effective way to conduct their philanthropy and provides them the opportunity to focus their energies on the true joys of philanthropy rather than the administrative burdens of maintaining a private foundation. Compare advantages of having a private foundation vs. a fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation.

  • $250,000 minimum to establish
  • Donor may allow their current financial advisor to manage the assets
  • Family member/committee recommends grants to any 501(c)(3) in U.S., approval required by The Pittsburgh Foundation Board of Directors
  • Better tax benefits
  • Tax deduction limits for gifts of cash = 60% AGI for a Family Foundation Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation vs. 30% AGI for a private foundation
  • Tax deduction limits for gifts of stock = 30% AGI for a Family Foundation Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation vs. 20% AGI for a private foundation
  • Grant checks cut weekly
  • Ability to distribute grants from principal, to minimum required fund balance
  • No minimum payout for a Family Foundation Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation vs. 5% minimum annual payout for a private foundation
  • No excise tax paid with a Family Foundation Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation vs. 2% of net investment income paid annually with a private foundation
  • Expertise of the Foundation staff available for funding opportunities consultation
  • Built-in peer networking
  • Informational sessions and activities on charitable organizations and issues
  • Unlimited successor advisors
  • Legacy planning
  • Online grant recommendation system available
Medical Research Funds

Medical Research Funds are established by donors to support investigation into the causes and cures of a variety of diseases. The Foundation's Medical Research Advisory Committees, composed of physicians and researchers, review proposals and recommend worthy projects to the Foundation's Board of Directors for approval.

Unrestricted Funds

Unrestricted Funds may be established by donors in which endowed funds are created and are the charge of the Foundation's Board of Directors to "meet community needs as they arise." The Foundations' program department directs this grantmaking. Its mission is to foster sustainable communities, defined as those which seek to seamlessly integrate economic and social equity, as well as environmental goals, into Allegheny County in order to enhance the quality of life for residents. Sustainable communities can be identified by the presence of: Self Sufficient Individuals and Families; Healthy Communities; and A Vibrant Democracy.

Supporting Organization

Type I Supporting Organizations are an option for philanthropists making initial gifts of $2 million and higher. More and more, trustees of private foundations are realizing that The Pittsburgh Foundation offers an alternative with distinct advantages:

  • No onerous, expensive "back office" and administrative responsibilities
  • No requisite 5 percent annual payout
  • Increased charitable deductibility relative to your adjusted gross income
  • Expert assistance in engaging and educating your children and grandchildren in philanthropy
  • Ability to retain your fund's name and its own 501(c)(3) designation
  • Significant tax advantages for gifts of closely held stock, real estate property and similar assets

Would you like to start a charitable fund? Contact us today.

For more information on funds at The Pittsburgh Foundation, please contact the development and donor services department at 412-394-2653 or contact us via email.

Kate McKenzie, Senior Director of Development/Interim Director of Donor Services, mckenziek [at] (mckenziek[at]pghfdn[dot]org)
Amy B. Razem, CAP®, Assistant Director of Development and Donor Services, razema [at] (razema[at]pghfdn[dot]org)
Sara Swaney, Development Officer, swaneys [at] (swaneys[at]pghfdn[dot]org)