Giving Counsel, Fall 2018

November 7, 2018

Gary_Garcia photoOccasionally we receive telephone calls from individuals looking for assistance with the foundation of their home, usually the result of a basic web search for “Foundation” and “Dallas.”

We don’t fix sagging beams or cracked slabs, but we do provide a strong foundation from which your clients can build their unique charitable portfolios. Philanthropically minded individuals may donate gifts of illiquid assets such as art collections, real estate, or royalty interest. For your business clientele, we can administer disaster assistance funds for employers and scholarship funds for corporations or associations. We can even help you help your clients navigate family dynamics that influence charitable planning.

Let us connect you to information about emerging issues in philanthropy that could help you in your work. For example, The Dallas Foundation’s 2019 Professional Advisor Seminar will focus on one of the fastest-growing trends in philanthropy: impact investing. 

This investment strategy simultaneously produces social or environmental benefits and financial returns. Impact investing can diversify your clients’ financial portfolios while satisfying their desire to give back to the community. For more information about the seminar, please visit

If you have questions about what we do or how we can assist you, please call or email me. We can’t repair your home’s foundation, but we can help you build a more solid foundation of trust and respect with your clients by helping them with their charitable planning and activities.

All the best,






Gary W. Garcia
Senior Director of Development

Table of Contents

Funders Launch New Resources to Help Nonprofits Maximize Results

The Dallas Foundation and three other local grant-makers are leading an effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local nonprofits. The four funders – Lyda Hill Foundation/LH Holdings, Inc., The Whats_up_panel Meadows Foundation, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and The Dallas Foundation – created the Better Together Fund, which encourages charities to explore long-term, transformational collaborations to amplify the impact of their work. The fund provides financial and technical resources to help nonprofits evaluate and execute potential collaborations. 

“We strongly believe that you accomplish more when you work together, so we’re leading by example,” said Helen Holman, The Dallas Foundation’s chief philanthropy officer. “Four funders are collaborating to provide the resources that nonprofits need to minimize duplication and maximize results. This effort strengthens the nonprofit sector and ensures that charitable gifts to these organizations generate the highest possible philanthropic returns.” 

The Better Together Fund, which made its formal debut in summer 2017, is already achieving its goals. The steering committee vetted 140 projects, resulting in 90 grant applications. By its first anniversary, the fund had awarded 42 grants totaling more than $1.5 million. Of the collaborations that received funding, several already have passed through the initial assessment step and into the implementation phase. 

“It is abundantly clear that the nonprofit community is ready and willing to consider long-term, formal collaborations,” said Margaret Black of the Lyda Hill Foundation/LH Holdings, Inc.
In its second year, the fund continues to accept applications from nonprofits for varying levels of support, from a few thousand dollars to underwrite a readiness assessment to $350,000 for successful collaborations that are ready to grow and innovate. 

Two grant recipients shared their experience at The Dallas Foundation’s annual “What’s Up, Dallas?” donor education event this summer. Raphael Parry, executive director of Shakespeare Dallas, explained that multiple performing arts groups wanted to collaborate to create a shared space to build and store sets and costumes.

“The need was profound,” he said. “Everybody was storing stuff in their backyard sheds and in their garages.”

Eight arts organizations came together to apply for a grant from the Better Together Fund to research developing a shared scene shop and storage facilities. 
“The beauty of the Better Together Fund is that you don’t have to prove your concept is right from the beginning,” Parry said. “It’s a chance to find out where the truths are.”
For My Possibilities and LaunchAbility, the Better Together Fund brought a planned merger to fruition. Both agencies served adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, though they provided different programs. 
With help from the Better Together Fund grant, the agencies’ leaders determined the best strategy and timeline for merging. They completed the process in February.
“We’re already starting to see some tremendous success,” said Michael Thomas, executive director of the merged nonprofit, which kept the name My Possibilities. By July of this year, he said, the combined agency had placed more clients in jobs than the two individual nonprofits had in all of 2017. 
“We’re going to almost double the expected number [of clients] in programs across the board,” he said.
For more information about the Better Together Fund, visit

Advisors Experience Unique Site Visit to Café Momentum


More than 20 professional advisors from a variety of fields joined the Dallas Foundation team for a cooking class at Café Momentum in June. The event brought together the best parts of a nonprofit site visit with a professional networking lunch. 

“It was great fun,” said Rod Riggins, the foundation’s advisor relations officer. “It develops relationships with the foundation and among advisors, and they learn about one of the nonprofit organizations we support.”

The Dallas Foundation has supported and championed Café Momentum since long before it had a permanent home in downtown Dallas. Founded by chef Chad Houser, the upscale restaurant began as an effort to help young men coming out of Dallas County’s juvenile department learn culinary skills and gain work experience. Houser and his team prepared pop-up dinners around Dallas before moving into the stylish space on Pacific Avenue.

The job skills program has evolved into an intensive 12-month paid internship for young women and men in which every youth has a case manager and a mentor. The program helps young people find housing and healthcare, works on life skills and financial literacy, and guides them during their transition to life after the internship. 

For the June 12 lunch, Dallas Foundation staff divided professional advisors into teams, each with a name and a theme song, while Café Momentum provided recipes and ingredients. 

Dodee Crockett, managing director of investments at Merrill Lynch–Crockett, McBride & Associates, contributed her culinary talents to the meal’s first course, tortilla soup. 

“It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about and experience the impact of Café Momentum while connecting with others in our field,” Crockett said.

Attorney Keith Pillers’s group made a dessert of blueberry compote over pastry. Pillers is a vice president and trust officer with Bank of Texas Private Wealth. It was the first time some of his teammates had visited the restaurant, but for Pillers, who is married to a chef and has known Chad Houser for years, the experience was valuable nonetheless. 

“Everybody had a great time,” he said. “I would love to do it again.”

For more information about resources and events for professional advisors, contact

Clients Looking to Lower Their Income Tax Bill?

Try Bunching Donations, or Giving From an IRA

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the standard deduction for federal income taxpayers. That increase in the standard deduction makes it less worthwhile for many Americans to itemize deductions, including their charitable gifts. 

One way to make itemizing more valuable is to bunch multiple years’ worth of charitable donations into a single large gift to a donor-advised fund. The bunched gift may be big enough to exceed this year’s standard deduction, but the donor can recommend grants from the fund over multiple years.

This strategy could indirectly benefit nonprofits too. Because of the increased standard deduction, many taxpayers may donate less to charity without seeing their taxes rise – an issue that has charities worried about their budgets. With the bunched-gift/donor-advised-fund strategy, donors can continue to recommend regular, annual gifts to the causes they care about while maximizing their charitable and other itemized deductions.

Even under the new law, donors can often benefit from making charitable gifts from their IRAs. All account owners aged 70.5 and older must take annual required minimum distributions from their IRAs. But if account holders donate a required minimum distribution directly from an IRA to an eligible fund at The Dallas Foundation or another qualified charity, it doesn’t count as part of their annual income. 

In some cases, that can reduce their tax liability. 

If your client is considering donating an illiquid asset such as real estate, artwork, or a percentage of an LLC, The Dallas Foundation typically requires 30 business days to complete transactions of that nature. 

For more information or other year-end giving strategies, contact

Accelerating Nonprofit Success

Accelerator Fund 






The Dallas Foundation’s community philanthropy team does more than award grants to nonprofits. They work to help nonprofits squeeze maximum value out of all the grants and gifts they receive. Our staff offers advice about grant writing and funding sources, connects agencies to potential partners, and arranges site visits for donors interested in a particular cause or agency. 

One of our newest initiatives to help nonprofits is The Accelerator Fund. It provides resources for critical but hard-to-fund organizational needs such as strategic planning, program evaluation, data management and analysis, and staffing. We publicly announced the new fund at our “What’s Up, Dallas?” briefing in July.

Two Dallas Foundation donors, Darwin and Myra Smith, provided an initial $100,000 for the fund, on the condition that foundation governors also support the concept. They did, matching the original gift with $100,000 from our Community Impact Fund. That prompted the Smiths to offer a second $100,000 gift if the foundation could raise another $100,000 from donors by October 31.  Donors who give $10,000 in one year are also eligible to serve on the fund’s grant selection committee during that year. 

To learn more about The Accelerator Fund, or if you have a client who might be interested, contact Lesley Martinelli, senior director of donor services, at