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All About Endowments: Long-term, Sustainable Support

Nonprofit partners and donor advisors convene for endowment education.

Donors and nonprofit leaders represent two sides of the same coin when it comes to endowments, but discussing the concept of giving to a permanent, sustainable source of funding can be difficult — especially when current demands can take priority for a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. To help guide conversations about endowments, the CFO hosted a panel discussion on May 18, the first in a series of joint Agency Partner/Donor Services education events.

“The important thing to consider how an endowment will work for you is really clear communication about what you want to do long-term financially and what your goals are as an organization — you have to be crystal clear on those,” said Jaimie Trussell, CEO at Council of Churches of the Ozarks. “That’s the number one reason I have found donors enjoy endowments because nobody gets to change their mind about how to use this money.”

Michelle Reynolds, director of development at Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, said her personal goal is to build an endowment that can cover the community college’s annual operating expenses to provide flexibility for other fundraising goals, including other endowments.

“We are really working on endowing funds to pay for anything institutional that my president and I really want to see live on,” she said. “We’re not thinking 10 years from now. We’re thinking of the days that we are dead and gone.”

Representing the donor’s perspective, Dr. Gloria Galanes, faculty emeritus with Missouri State University and a past board chair of the CFO, encouraged attendees to allow for flexibility when establishing an endowment.

“At Missouri State, there was a scholarship that was written so restrictively that it had not been given in a number of years because nobody fit the criteria,” she said. “Be careful, when you’re setting it up, that you don’t write it so restrictively that it can’t be given out.”

All three on the panel pointed to the CFO and other nonprofit leaders as resources for discussing endowments.

“Most people who have wealth have a really good lawyer, a really good accountant, probably a really good financial planner. Guess what they don’t have? A really good give-it-away-er,” Trussell said. “You have to pull in your nonprofit friends who are experts at giving it away.”

Endowments: Long-term, Sustainable Support is the first in a series of educational seminars hosted as a joint venture of the CFO's Donor Services and Agency Partner programs. It covers:

  • What is an endowment?
  • Why are endowments important?
  • Why does a donor establish an endowment?
  • When does a donor establish an endowment?
  • How does a nonprofit have a conversation with donors about contributing to an existing endowment or starting a new endowment to benefit its mission?
  • How can the CFO help donors and nonprofits with these conversations?

Below, you'll find a number of resources discussed in the video, including the PowerPoint presentation and handouts.

Endowment Training PowerPoint

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