Q: It is my understanding that Form 990-PF requires reporting of the names and addresses of contributors which can be accessed by the public. I would prefer not having to report the names and addresses of contributors. What do I do?

A: The Internal Revenue Service requires foundations to file Form 990-PF every year. A public record of the foundation’s activities, it contains information about the foundation’s assets, grants, the names and salaries of trustees and staff, if any, and, as you note, “substantial contributors.”

Part VII, Line 10 of the Form 990-PF asks, “Did any persons become substantial contributors during the tax year? If ‘Yes,’ attach a schedule listing their names and addresses.”

The instructions state: “The term ‘substantial contributor’ means any person whose contributions or bequests during the current tax year and prior tax years total more than $5,000 and are more than 2% of the total contributions and bequests received by the foundation from its creation through the close of its tax year. In the case of a trust, the term ‘substantial contributor’ also means the creator of the trust (section 507(d)(2)).”

(See page 20 of the Form 990-PF instructions to find out how person is defined and when a person ceases to be a substantial contributor.)

There’s no getting around these disclosure requirements. If you’re concerned about receiving inappropriate grant proposals, consider updating your foundation’s profile on grantseeking tools like Guidestar and the Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory. If you’re concerned about publicizing the names of contributors, you might consider alternative giving vehicles like donor-advised funds. Because the community foundations and charitable gift funds that host such funds are public charities and not required to publicly disclose their donors, individuals who create donor-advised funds can choose to remain anonymous.

For more information on these issues, see the July 2007 Family Giving News “Privacy and Publicity.”