Endowment FAQs

What is an endowment?

An endowment is a gift that gives forever. It is designed to provide stable, ongoing gifts to your favorite charities. The principal is preserved and grows through prudent investing, and grants are distributed to your chosen charities each year.

Why would I want an endowment?

To give a gift that leaves a lasting legacy that reflects your faith and values.

An endowment bears fruit forever. It ensures your favorite charities receive a steady stream of grants each year, providing them with stable support forever.

What gifts can go into an endowment?

A variety of assets can be used to fund an endowment. These include cash, appreciated securities, required minimum distributions from IRA accounts, real estate, personal property, and more.

What are the costs associated with opening an endowment?

Other than the establishing gift, there are no upfront, out-of-pocket expenses.

We are responsible for investing the assets you contribute. An annual administrative fee of 0.80 - 1.00% provides the resources necessary to keep our doors open and staff working on your behalf. An additional investment management fee of approximately 0.75% is paid to our investment managers. View associated fees here.

What tax benefits will I see from opening an endowment?

Capital gains tax savings and estate planning benefits differ depending on your personal situation.

Can I involve my family?

With an endowment, the beneficiaries are set by you and are unchanging.  You can involve your family in that decision-making process.

If involving your family in your philanthropy is important to you, we can help you make a plan.

What if I don’t have $50,000 to open an endowment?

You can build your endowment over of time. One example would be using the required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement account to fund your endowment.

Another option is to write your endowment into your estate plan. This way, your endowment will commence upon your death.

I’m worried I will outlive my savings, so I don’t think an endowment is for me.

This is a common concern. Many people choose to give upon death through an estate gift. That way, they feel financially secure today, and know they can still leave a lasting legacy through an endowment.

What makes CCF different from a typical financial institution?

We do everything with a Catholic heart. That means investing according to Catholic social teaching and the USCCB’s socially responsible investment guidelines. We also screen grantees for alignment with Catholic values.

And, as a nonprofit, our only bottom line is ensuring your legacy lasts so our community continues to benefit from your faith-filled generosity.

How much will my chosen charities receive each year?

The amount that is distributed to your endowment’s beneficiaries is determined by something called a “spending rate.” Each year, CCF’s Investment Committee reviews and recommends a spending rate to CCF’s Board of Directors for approval. The rate is based on guidelines dictated by law. These include:

  • the preservation of the endowment
  • current economic conditions
  • the possible effect of inflation or deflation
  • the expected return and appreciation of investments

The spending rate is currently set at 4% of the average fund balance over the previous 20 quarters. Structuring the rate in this way protects against short-term market volatility and smooths distributions over time in order to deliver consistent income.

The ultimate goal when determining the spending rate is ensuring the endowments CCF stewards can provide perpetual grants. 

Why an endowment rather than a large, one-time gift?

It depends on your giving goals. Let’s take a look at the benefits for each option.

Endowment

  • Ensures stable and ongoing financial support forever
  • The beneficiaries can rely on - and more importantly, plan for - the grants the endowment yields
  • Your intent is always honored, regardless of who leads the charitable organization

 

Large one-time gift

  • Help organizations complete special projects
  • Help meet large capital campaign goals
  • Provide a much-needed lifeline to charitable organizations with immediate, specific needs

 

What if I don’t have $50,000 to open an endowment?

You can build your endowment over of time. One example would be using the required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement account to fund your endowment.

Another option is to write your endowment into your estate plan. This way, your endowment will commence upon your death.

How is an endowment invested?

The Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) invests endowments according to Catholic social teaching and the USCCB’s socially responsible investment guidelines. Endowments are invested in our long-term pool for balanced growth. This pool – specifically designed for the perpetual investment of endowments – seeks to generate consistent income and growth over time.

What happens when the market is down?

Endowments are designed to weather market changes by controlling the spend rate each year so as to preserve the principal.  In years with higher market returns, the extra growth accumulates and acts as a cushion for years when the market is down.

Additionally, the strategy we use to invest endowment funds is diversified to yield steady, balanced growth over a long period of time.

Will my endowment ever run out of money?

No. Endowments are designed specifically to slowly grow with each passing year.  There are even state and federal laws that govern the management of these funds to ensure they last forever. CCF always complies with these laws when stewarding your gift to provide your favorite charities with annual support in perpetuity.

What makes CCF different from a typical financial institution?

We do everything with a Catholic heart. That means investing according to Catholic social teaching and the USCCB’s socially responsible investment guidelines. We also screen grantees for alignment with Catholic values.

How much will my chosen charities receive each year?

The amount that is distributed  to your endowment’s beneficiaries is determined by something called a “spending rate.” Each year, CCF’s Investment Committee reviews and recommends a spending rate to CCF’s Board of Directors for approval. The rate is based on guidelines dictated by law. These include:

  • the preservation of the endowment
  • current economic conditions
  • the possible effect of inflation or deflation
  • the expected return and appreciation of investments

The spending rate is currently set at 4% of the average fund balance over the previous 20 quarters.

The ultimate goal when determining the spending rate is ensuring the endowments CCF stewards can provide perpetual grants. 

And, as a nonprofit, our only bottom line is ensuring your legacy lasts so our community continues to benefit from your faith-filled generosity.

What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a charity that benefits from your generosity. For example, if you list Catholic Charities as a beneficiary of your endowment, an annual grant will be given to them. You can list more than one charity as a beneficiary and choose what percentage of the annual grant each one receives.

What if my beneficiary closes? Or my parish?

If any beneficiary closes during your lifetime, CCF will work with you to make necessary changes.  If a beneficiary closes after your death, CCF will change the beneficiary to accomplish, as nearly as possible, the intended purpose of your gift. 

Many donors name their parish as a beneficiary and often wonder, “What happens if my parish merges with another?” If your parish is merged, your gift continues to go to the newly-formed parish.

What if I want to change my beneficiaries?

If you decide you’d like to change your beneficiaries, just give us a call. One of our friendly expert gift planning officers will help update your chosen charities.

Donor stories:

Saverne’s endowment will perpetually support several charities that are dear to her

Barbara’s endowment will foster the Catholic community in Faribault, Minnesota

Questions?

Contact Senior Development Officer Mary S. Haeg, J.D.

651-389-0875
Email Mary