Foundation’s (CCF) investment committee, John Beuerlein recalls having lunch with then-president, Marilou Eldred, who walked him through how the Foundation worked. “She explained things like the difference between a donor advised fund and an endowment, and it all made sense pretty quickly,” John recalls.
While John was new to the Foundation, he’d been managing money for the Pohlad Companies since 1991 and had exactly the kind of financial expertise and investment savvy CCF needed to get to the next level. John was happy to help, as he explains, “Any opportunity to work with a good group of Catholic people is always attractive to me.”
At the time John joined the investment committee, the Foundation was focused on building up assets and achieving viability. “Expenditures were greater than revenue back then,” John points out. “So each year, we needed help from the board members to balance the budget.”
Improving investment performance was a critical next step for the Foundation’s success. “When you’re managing other people’s money, they want to know that they’re getting close to market returns, which was a challenge for us at the time.” John understood that underperforming returns would continue to be a barrier to attracting new donors.
It took several years of smart decision-making and portfolio adjustments by John and his colleagues on the investment committee to gradually boost returns. By 2014, shortly after John was named vice chair of the Foundation’s board of directors, CCF stopped running annual deficits altogether, making it the only self-sustaining Catholic community foundation in the nation. “We turned a major corner that year,” John recalls. “Since then, CCF’s returns have been very competitive with the returns of comparable foundations.”
That fundamental change opened up new opportunities for the Foundation to make an impact. “Within the last couple of years, we’ve been able to focus on doing what we’re supposed to do, which is identify needs in the Catholic community and direct dollars there,” John says.
CCF’s new focus is also reflected in the board’s leadership. John’s successor as vice chair, Tom Letscher, has expertise in grantmaking, helping the Foundation expand its role within the philanthropic community.
Now that John and his wife, Cindy, have opened their own donor advised fund, he expects to be involved long after his term on CCF’s board expires in 2019. With strong leadership on the board, John sees a bright future for CCF. “Everything at the Foundation is firing on all cylinders,” John says. “It’s inspiring how people can share assets for the overall good of the community.”