Questions?

There are 3 sections of Frequently Asked Questions:



Foundation Basics

What is the Congregation Etz Chaim Foundation?

The Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County Foundation (the “Foundation”) is a section 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit Corporation that has been established to provide and guaranty resources to ensure Jewish continuity, and assure that Congregation Etz Chaim remains a long-term source of strength for those in our community seeking to live by Jewish culture, values and religion. It solicits, accepts, manages and grows contributions to an endowment for the long term needs of the Congregation. The Foundation Endowment is overseen by a Board of Directors who are independent from the board of the Congregation.

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How do matching programs work with the Foundation?

Many employees work for companies with Charitable Donation Matching programs. In this way, the corporation donates a matching amount to an employee donation to a charitable organization. As we are a 501(c)3 organization, the foundation is usually eligible for such matching. However, there are some companies that limit donations to religious organizations. The Foundation is totally separate from the Congregation, with a separate governance structure. To be as transparent as possible for our donors, though, we have set up a special fund within the foundation to allow donations to be used for social action purposes only. We would be happy to talk to any company about how the foundation and the social action fund work.

If filling out forms regarding matching donations, our Federal Tax ID is 46-1366475.

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Why an Endowment?

While dues and solicitation for immediate needs support current expenses and programs, Endowment dollars are raised and used to serve the Congregation in perpetuity. The Endowment provides a separate capital reserve outside of the day-to-day operating needs of Congregation Etz Chaim. It is to be used for the long-term betterment of Congregation Etz Chaim, including capital improvements. The Foundation is a separate legal entity from Congregation Etz Chaim and commitments and pledges made to the Foundation can be made over time and agreements with donors regarding the use of funds to be received now and in the future can be fulfilled.

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What can you contribute?

Planned gifts include naming the Congregation Etz Chaim Foundation in your will or trust, designating the Foundation as a beneficiary of retirement assets (401(k) or IRA) or a life insurance policy, creating an annuity with the foundation as the recipient, or making a direct gift. Contributions may be made in many forms: cash, bequest, securities, real estate, life insurance or in trust. Your donation can be in honor of an important event or in memory of your family or a loved one. Your financial advisor can help you determine the best way for you to contribute to Congregation Etz Chaim’s Foundation, or you can call the synagogue office and we will put you in touch with one of our Professional Advisory Members.

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Why should I contribute?

We cannot depend on dues and fees alone to fully fund our synagogue, school, infrastructure, and programs in the future.

Planned Giving creates opportunities for us to educate the next generation, and leave Etz Chaim a little better than we each found it. Your donation will open new doors, create new experiences and help assure that our congregation will grow and flourish for years to come. It will do this and much more with your participation and your gift.

Congregation Etz Chaim began when a small group of Jews were looking for a means to provide a spiritual, educational and cultural home for Jewish faith and culture in the Western suburbs of Chicago. They did this because they knew that the synagogue replenishes Jewish commitment, continuity and identity in each new generation. Since it began, an essential aspect of living well at Etz Chaim is thinking of the world and community we each leave behind.

Our founders created an enduring statement with our building, people and causes. Your donation similarly says you care to make your intentions clear—you remain committed to the convictions of Jewish faith, culture and community the Etz Chaim way—through people, participation, causes and caring. While every institution and cause asks a lot, our synagogue’s job, in partnership with our rabbis, parents and grandparents, is to create an environment where future generations of Jews will know of the meaning of tzedakah and tikkun olam, and our special way to treat, educate and help our Etz Chaim family.

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Who can support the Congregation Etz Chaim Foundation?

Anyone!

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When can one provide support through the Foundation?

Participation can occur at such time that it best fits you:

  • Outright, pledged, or deferred. Outright gifts involve the donor’s voluntary and intentional immediate transfer of money or property immediately without expectation of receiving a benefit equal to the value of the transfer. Pledges are commitments to make an outright gift by a specific date, over a defined period of time, or in the future, often through installment payments. Deferred gifts generally are put into place during life and are effective either during life or at a particular individual’s death.
  • Unrestricted vs. restricted. Unrestricted gifts may be used by the Foundation for any activity or program. Restricted gifts may specify the particular purpose of the gift or conditions governing its use. The acceptance of restricted gifts is subject to Foundation guidelines and the discretions of the Board. The donor does not retain control over funds or property after its transfer.
  • Current use. Gifts for current use are those that are intended to be expended for current needs. These should be made directly to Congregation Etz Chaim and not to the Foundation.

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What can I donate to the Foundation?

The Foundation can accept a variety of gifts, including:

  • Cash and marketable securities
  • Insurance proceeds through beneficiary designation and gift of insurance policies
  • IRA, 401k, and other retirement plan assets, by current gift or as a named beneficiary
  • Through Charitable Remainder Trusts and similar devices, naming the Foundation as a beneficiary
  • Real estate, jewelry, and other non-financial assets now or through your will/estate.

This list in not inclusive and consultation with outside financial and legal advisors is always recommended.

If you designate the Foundation as a beneficiary of an IRA, 401k or life insurance policy, you are making a “planned” (or future) gift, and the amount received by the Foundation will depend on the value of your IRA/401k/insurance policy at a later date. The Foundation actively seeks these donations. In the interim, you will still have the use of the funds for emergencies, unforeseen health care issues, or required personal or family needs.

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How can I support a specific need of Congregation Etz Chaim through the Foundation?

Most gifts are unrestricted to provide the greatest flexibility in their use to meet future needs of the Congregation through the Endowment. Restricted gifts may specify the particular purpose of the gift or conditions governing its use. However, the acceptance of restricted is subject to Foundation guidelines the discretion of the Foundation Board. The donor does not retain control over the money or property after its transfer.

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When can I begin?

Now! In the 50+ years the Congregation has existed, a long-term fundraising plan has never been developed or implemented.  The Foundation’s Endowment is being solicited and built now, and your contribution and pledge of current and/or future monies or assets will assure the long-term continued vibrancy of our Congregation and culture.

Our Foundation Board and consultants are available for a private and confidential meeting to discuss how  you may  make a donation and answer your questions and concerns.

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Foundation Board

How are member of the Foundation Board chosen?

The initial Foundation Board was recommended by the Planned Giving Committee, and approved by the Temple Board of Directors.  Subsequently, Foundation Board Members will serve 2 year terms, with the current Foundation Board recommending new or replacement Board members to the Temple Executive Committee for review and approval.  There is a limit to the number of consecutive terms a Foundation Board member can serve.  All Foundation Board members must be Temple Members in good standing, and cannot also be in the Temple’s Board of Directors.   Legally the Temple Board of Directors are the “shareholders” of the Foundation Not For Profit Corporation.  No clergy sit on the Foundation Board, but the Temple Executive Director and the Clergy assist in soliciting funds, operations management, and marketing, and may provide advice upon request of the Foundation Board regarding Temple needs, priorities and use of money/resources.

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Who selects or elects the Foundation Board?

The current Foundation Board members will recommend new Foundation Board members for review and approval of the Temple Executive Committee.  These initial Foundation Board Members were all actively involved in the planning, creation and approval of the Foundation.  Each has also been actively involved in the solicitation of donations.

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Can one apply to be on the Foundation Board?

You cannot simply “apply”–we are looking for a cross section of Temple Members to be on the Foundation Board in terms of age, experience, past involvement in Temple activities, committees, financial and investment acumen, and business/professional experience.  There is no formal process of selection.  However, one can certainly express an interest in wanting to serve to an exiting Foundation Board Member or Temple Executive Committee Member and I am certain that will be highly considered.

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How many people are on the Foundation Board?

There are 5 people on the Foundation Board, and that appears to be an appropriate number.

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What are their terms of office?

Term in office is 2 years, except that several initial members hold only 1 year terms so that the Board can be staggered on terms in the future.

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What are the Foundation Board member qualifications?

There are no set qualifications.  However, the consensus has been to look for long-standing members who have actively participated in the Temple, religious school, or temple governance/committees.  These persons understand the Temple’s culture, needs, community commitments, financial condition, etc.  The individuals cannot also simultaneously be on the Temple Board of Directors.

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What are the Board Member duties? Are all equal in power?

All Foundation Board Members are equal in power — 1 person, 1 vote.  The Foundation Member Board duties include supervising solicitation and marketing efforts for funds/donations, managing the administration and investment of donated funds and future pledges (including selecting, reviewing and managing any third-party advisors), reviewing and evaluating annual requests for use/disbursement of previously donated funds and assuring directed funds are used for the pledged purpose only, and hosting an annual Foundation Sponsored Shabbat.  Foundation Board meetings are intended only several times per year.

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Are Foundation Board meetings open to congregants?

Foundation Board meetings have not to date been made open to congregants. Foundation Board Members have periodically met with the Temple Executive Committee and made open reports to the full Temple Board of Directors. All investment advisors engaged and investment results are made available to the Executive Committee. It is the Foundation’s intent to provide full disclosure but avoid “politicking” and lobbying regarding the use of donated funds, and to remain objective and focused on its mission in decision making regarding future uses of donated funds.

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Are there guidelines on how the Foundation money can be spent?

There are no specific/detailed guidelines — just a directing overall mission. There are however, 3 limitations:

  • (I) no funds will be spent until the general endowment fund has at least $1 Million so that a sufficient sum of money is on hand to assure the future;
  • (II) any donation in excess of $50,000 can direct the use of funds on its own terms and limitations that will be strictly adhered to; and
  • (III) the foundation-donated funds cannot be used for the day-to-day operations of the Temple, as differentiated from the Temple Budget paid through annual dues, absent a special process being followed by the Temple Executive Committee and Temple Board of Directors in a unique emergency situation.

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Is the Foundation Board alone responsible for approving disbursement of funds?

The Foundation reviews the proposed disbursement of funds with the Temple Executive Committee, but the Foundation is the “decider”.  However, the substantial contribution noted above can direct and control the disbursement of its own donated funds if it elects to do so.

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How will the Foundation report to the Congregation and contributors?

There is an annual Shabbat sponsored by the Foundation where a report will be provided to contributors and the Congregation.  The Executive Committee is provided with periodic reports of contributions, disbursements, and investment reports.  Recognize also that many contributions are made with future gifts and often as part of a will or estate (so the contributor may no longer be around) — the Foundation is intended to assure that all such bequests are strictly honored and fulfilled.

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Is the Foundation Board responsible for managing investments?

Yes. The Foundation Board has also engaged professional investment managers to assist and provide guidance in this responsibility.

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What safeguards are in place against misuse of the funds by the Foundation Board, or by financial advisors to the Foundation Board?

There are no specific safeguards detailed in the Guidelines, other than a division of duties regarding deposits, accounting, etc. — internal controls, all Foundation Board Members receiving investment reports directly, and a multi-signature approval process for material disbursements.  The Foundation Board does have D&O insurance, and the Foundation does have counsel to advise regarding fiduciary duties.  Financial advisors are not permitted to disburse funds at all; disbursements from donated funds require at least 2 Board Member signatures; all investment recommendations must be approved by a majority of the Board to make changes, etc.

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Foundation Funds

Is the Foundation Board alone responsible for approving disbursement of funds?

The Foundation reviews the proposed disbursement of funds with the Temple Executive Committee, but the Foundation is the “decider”.  However, the substantial contribution noted above can direct and control the disbursement of its own donated funds if it elects to do so.

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How do proposals for spending come to the Foundation?

The Foundation solicits the Temple Board of Directors and all Committees to seek/request funds on an annual basis.  This request specifically occurs after the annual budget period so that future planning and future issues are requested of the Foundation and not requests for immediate needs or in lieu of operating budget needs.  The Foundation has no requirement to fund any request.

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Who may submit a request for an expenditure?

Only the Temple Executive Committee, Temple Board or a Committee of the Board may request funding.  Except per above comments, large donors that have directed funds can make requests to fulfill their directed donation.

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Will spending proposals come from the temple’s board?

Yes — Temple’s Board and Temple Committees

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Will audits of the Foundation funds be done annually, and results made known to the Congregation?

As an approved 501(c)(3) organization, there must be an annual audit and proper tax returns filed. Foundation funds are segregated from Temple funds in Foundation accounts. We have not addressed disclosures regarding this audit, but it has been the intent and practice to date of the Foundation to report the results to the Executive Committee/Officers of the Temple.

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Is the Foundation Board responsible for managing investments?

Yes. The Foundation Board has also engaged professional investment managers to assist and provide guidance in this responsibility.

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Are there guidelines for the investments?

Yes. There are investment guidelines approved by the Foundation Board, and implemented with the assistance of professional investment advisors. The current investment advisor is Rappaport Reiches Capital Management, LLC.

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What safeguards are in place against misuse of the funds by the Foundation Board, or by financial advisors to the Foundation Board?

There are no specific safeguards detailed in the Guidelines, other than a division of duties regarding deposits, accounting, etc. — internal controls, all Foundation Board Members receiving investment reports directly, and a multi-signature approval process for material disbursements.  The Foundation Board does have D&O insurance, and the Foundation does have counsel to advise regarding fiduciary duties.  Financial advisors are not permitted to disburse funds at all; disbursements from donated funds require at least 2 Board Member signatures; all investment recommendations must be approved by a majority of the Board to make changes, etc.

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Will there still be a temple building fund?

There will still be a building fund.  The building fund is intended to pay the building mortgage.  New members are required to make a contribution to the building fund as a condition of membership; no one is required to donate to the Foundation.  The building fund is not under the direction or charter of the Foundation whatsoever.

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If both the Foundation and a building fund will co-exist, would the building fund and the Foundation expenditures overlap?

It is possible that there could be overlap if the need arises or there is insufficient funds in the building fund.  It is not the intent or the requirement of the Foundation to pay the mortgage on the property.  The Foundation may allocate funds, after request and review, to assure the building is properly maintained and functions for the long-term or to assist and assure the future if inadequate funds exist to pay the mortgage debt;  the Foundation’s mandate is much broader and includes matters beyond just the physical structure/physical plant, including assuring continuity in Jewish culture, education, ritual and religious matters and services, and community and social commitments.

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