Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about The Common Place Fund
1 | What exactly is The Common Place Fund (CPF)?
In basic terms, CPF is a savings account Heidt and Depth uses to generate charitable donations. In technical terms, it is a “donor-advised fund” steered by Heidt and Depth and managed by National Christian Foundation. Donor-advised funds are charitable investment accounts used to make grants to charitable organizations.
2 | Why did we structure CPF like this?
Since 2018, we at Heidt and Depth have been exploring how to make placemaking more possible for those who need it but do not have the ability or understanding to make it happen. Hence, this is how we arrived at our Heidt and Depth Vision and Mission Statements and CPF slogan: “Making Placemaking commonplace.” During this time of research and development, we’ve learned that people who are doing good in their communities often realize that they have a need for some sort of design or construction problem to be solved to fully live out their calling. The three most common hurdles or roadblocks we’ve seen people such as this encounter are:
They need help understanding how the AEC industry works.
They need professional AEC or placemaking services.
They need funding to get their project built.
Heidt and Depth addresses the first two of these needs on a regular basis by providing community planning, design-build, and public art services to our clients along with personalized education about the process their project will require. However, we have struggled to find effective ways to assist with funding… until now.
By creating a donor-advised fund under Heidt and Depth’s name, we are able to earmark a designated percentage of our revenue for the purpose of accomplishing this third need. A donor-advised fund also allows us to solicit tax-deductible donations (more on this below).
3 | Why didn’t we just start a nonprofit instead?
The original vision for Heidt and Depth was to be a nonprofit. However, the research and development phase we began in 2018 revealed that in order to complete projects in a way that most honors our clients through timeliness, flexibility, and open-mindedness – and to allow us to continue developing a proven track record as a startup – we determined that Heidt and Depth needed to be classified as an LLC.
When we officially incorporated in 2021 as an LLC, we tabled the idea of funding projects so that we could focus on effectively addressing the first two needs outlined in the question above. We’ve explored a few different iterations of a funding outreach since then (you might remember the Adopt-a-Project campaign). Yet with each of these iterations, none of them quite allowed us the quality of outreach we have been targeting. There was always an issue with each approach, whether we pursued the approach or not.
Included among these ideas we explored was the creation of a private foundation. However, as a small business, we don’t have the capacity to handle the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that running a foundation requires. Additionally, by jumping through these hoops, we would not be serving our clientele (whether for-profit or nonprofit) with the efficiency and diligence we strive to offer.
CPF is the latest iteration of fund-granting approaches in this series.
The donor-advised fund format of CPF also allows us the best method for soliciting donations from those who are interested in joining our funding efforts. We’ve provided more details on donations towards the bottom of this page.
In short, a donor-advised fund appears to provide the best format we’ve found to respond to the funding need we’ve encountered among our clients and others. We believe the first edition or first few editions of CPF grants will help us determine whether this is the best approach and if so, what adjustments we need to make to execute it most effectively.
4 | Why have a grant application process when we could just donate to projects?
We want to hear about the projects you have going on and are dreaming about. If we rely exclusively on our own conversations within our network, we may miss projects that are in need of funding. Or, if you are a part of our network, we may not learn about certain details about your project that are important to our granting decisions.
Additionally, through the grant application process we get to learn about what needs you have in addition to funding. As a result, and depending on your needs and the quality of your application, we may be able to help you brainstorm creative solutions to accomplishing your project, regardless of whether you receive CPF funding or not.
5 | Why are recipients of CPF grants limited to a certain type of organization?
CPF was launched in 2023, so we are using the first few editions of these CPF grants to experiment, pilot, and find the best path for best responding to the needs of applicants and potential clients. Logistically speaking, the best format for us at this current time is to use National Christian Foundation as the account manager for CPF. Therefore, we must abide by their criteria as outlined in the next question.
6 | What does National Christian Foundation require from CPF applicants?
Because CPF is under the umbrella of the 501(c)3 nonprofit National Christian Foundation, it uses National Christian Foundation's 501(c)3 status. This means that only certain types of organizations can receive donations from CPF due to legal requirements.
Additionally, as a 501(c)3, National Christian Foundation must adhere to its own mission and vision. Thus, they require that recipients of CPF grants meet certain criteria. Click here for the full list of National Christian Foundation's criteria for applicants.
Your organization does not need to be a Christian organization to apply for a CPF grant.
7 | What if I want to make a tax-deductible donation to a CPF’s project?
One impactful way to join our efforts is to donate to CPF. Because of the 501(c)3 status that National Christian Foundation provides by hosting CPF under their umbrella, all donations to CPF are tax-deductible. If you donate to CPF, Heidt and Depth will also keep you updated on the project you sponsor as the project develops.
Please click here if you would like to donate.
Please contact us if you have any questions about donations.
8 | What if I don’t have the ability to donate or the interest donating?
Heidt and Depth is always looking to connect (1) good people with professional skills and (2) those an interest in volunteering to projects that make an impact in communities. Most Heidt and Depth projects have a handful of connections like this that become vital to the success of the project. Additionally, on CPF grant applications, there is a box where applicants can request professional services or volunteers. If you have skills in art, architecture, community planning, engineering, or construction, or if you are interested in volunteering a project led by Heidt and Depth, CPF, or one of our partners, please reach out to us here.
9 | What benefit does Heidt and Depth receive in all of this?
The only benefits Heidt and Depth receives through CPF are the fulfillment of seeing placemaking projects get completed and hearing what is going on in our communities. Heidt and Depth receives absolutely no financial benefit from CPF funds, not even to cover the overhead cost of running CPF initiatives like the ones on this page.