Charities that are planning for the future should strongly consider establishing an endowment. While your organization may be focused on day-to-day operational expenses not covered by grants, fund raising dollars, or other income streams, building endowment increases the overall health of your organization and its reputation as a solid organization. An endowment is a fund, which is structured to preserve and invest principal. Endowments also provide interest and dividend earnings for the benefit of your organization.
Consider how creating an endowment can strengthen your agency:
Endowments can serve as sources of stability Endowments are extremely valuable in advancing a charity’s mission in areas such as teaching, research, public service programs, or capital projects in areas where grant or donor funding does not meet all financial goals Endowments are attractive to donors wishing to make gifts that will perpetuate the charity long after Endowments are in fact attractive to grant funders interested in supporting program needs but also organizations who are financially stable If your organization is thinking about establishing an endowment:
Establish a board policy for the minimum needed to establish your agency’s endowment
Speak with your accountant, investment adviser or independent auditor to determine what costs will be involved; your investment strategy; policy for non-invasion of principal and any other
Seek advice from other membership organizations that have policies and procedures and information that you will find invaluable. Sample organizations include NACUBO (National Association of College and University Business Officers) or The Association for Health Care Philanthropy
Who should take the lead in supporting endowment?
Board members Foundations Individual donors making outright gifts of gifts through their wills Extraordinary Endowments Every organization began somewhere. While Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) has an endowment of more than $25 billion; and your local church might have an endowment of $100,000; be aware that they all had a starting point.
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