Frequently Asked Questions
About The Florida Bar Foundation and the Fellows Program
Question: How much does it cost to become a Fellow?
Answer: Fellows contribute $1,000 to the Foundation’s endowment to become permanent members of the Foundation. Payments may be made in one lump sum, spread out over five years (at $200 per year), or over ten years for young lawyers (at $100 per year).
Question: Are my gifts to The Florida Bar Foundation tax deductible?
Answer: Yes, The Florida Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all gifts to the Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
Question: Can I use my Fellows gift to satisfy my pro bono requirement?
Answer: No, because the Court’s pro bono plan suggests that attorneys either give twenty hours of their time to clients in need or provide payment in lieu of such service directly to a provider of legal aid. If you choose to “buy out” your pro bono aspirational goal, we would ask that you provide those funds directly to a local legal aid program.
Question: Should I support The Florida Bar Foundation instead of my local legal aid program?
Answer: We hope that you will be able to do both, but if you must make a choice, please continue to support your local program.
Question: Can a law firm be a Fellow?
Answer: No, only individuals can become Fellows. However, the individual’s check can come from their personal account or the firm’s account.
Question: What forms of payment does the Foundation accept?
Answer: We accept checks as well as Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.
Question: Will the money I give to the Foundation come back to my hometown?
Answer: Funds coming from Fellows Campaigns will be used throughout the state.
Question: How will my money provided for Fellows membership be used by the Foundation?
Answer: Funds received from Fellows of The Florida Bar Foundation are added to the Foundation’s endowment. You can choose which grant program the earnings from your gift will be used for, or give an unrestricted gift to be used in the area of greatest need.
Question: What is the relationship of the Foundation and The Florida Bar Foundation Endowment Trust?
Answer: The Florida Bar Foundation Endowment Trust is a 501(c)(3) Supporting Organization that exists for the sole purpose of managing and distributing endowment income to the Foundation. Its trustees are appointed by the board of the Foundation.
Question: The Foundation already receives funds from IOTA, so why do they need charitable gifts from attorneys?
Answer: Funds from IOTA do provide the vast majority of Foundation grant funds, but IOTA funds, even in the best of times, have not provided more than 20% of total funding needed for legal aid in Florida. Gifts will supplement IOTA funds so the Foundation can fund even more of the need. Gifts from attorneys will help build the Foundation’s endowment as some insurance against the possibility that IOTA funds might one day be unavailable. Furthermore, gifts from attorneys will demonstrate again the commitment of the Bar community in support of access to justice for Florida’s poor.
Question: How much of the Foundation’s money goes for administrative expenses?
Answer: In the last audited year (2003-2004), 10.9% of the Foundation’s total expenditures were used to pay administrative costs.
Question: I already support my local legal aid program, so why should I also support The Florida Bar Foundation?
Answer: We are grateful that you support your local legal aid program, and we encourage you to continue that important support. The reason you should support The Florida Bar Foundation as well is that in addition to supporting the operations of legal aid providers, the Foundation has historically been able to provide grants which can fund statewide initiatives to address problems and issues effecting justice in Florida. Through the Foundation, your gift can have statewide impact.
Question: What do I get by becoming a Fellow of The Florida Bar Foundation?
Answer: All Fellows of the Florida Bar Foundation become lifetime members of the Foundation, which includes the ability serve on the board of directors and to hold office in the Foundation. Fellows are listed in the Foundation’s annual report, on our website, and in the program of our annual dinner (held each summer in conjunction with the Bar’s annual meeting). Most importantly, you get the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to secure the future leadership and funding for legal aid in Florida.
Question: As a Fellow, what will I be expected to do for the Foundation?
Answer: It is hoped that as a Fellow you will become a regular and ardent supporter of the Foundation’s mission both vocally and financially. We also hope you will encourage your friends and colleagues who are not yet Fellows of the Foundation to consider Fellows membership.
Question: I already provide pro bono services, so why should I give?
Answer: The Florida Bar Foundation is grateful to all who provide pro bono services. Nevertheless, we still encourage you to make a Fellows commitment to the Foundation because even with the pro bono services provided, there is a great deal more service which must be provided and paid for in Florida.
Question: What is the difference between The Florida Bar and The Florida Bar Foundation?
Answer: The Florida Bar is the regulatory body for the practice of law in Florida. The Florida Bar Foundation is a separate philanthropic organization which seeks to expand and improve representation of low-income persons in civil legal matters, improve the fair and effective administration of justice, and promote service to the public by members of the legal profession by making public service an integral component of the law school experience.