Agency Endowment Funds

The Whatcom Community Foundation specializes in managing funds permanently endowed by donors for the benefit of a specific charitable cause. In the case of agency endowments, that cause is the organization itself. We achieve economies of scale by pooling your agency’s endowment with other funds, which can reduce investment management fees.  We provide investment oversight, saving your staff and Board time and enabling you to focus on growing your program. Once established, the Fund’s income can be directed each year to your organization’s operating budget, giving you additional revenue to support your good work.  It’s easy to get started.

Five steps to opening an agency endowment fund

  1. Talk to our staff. We’re happy to discuss the pros and cons of creating an endowment fund with your executive director or chief financial officer before you involve your Board in the process. Contact us at 360-671-6463 or email us at wcf@whatcomcf.org to set up a meeting.
  2. Engage your Board. If you decide to move forward, you’ll probably talk first to the Board Committee that handles your finances. We’re happy to work with you to prepare an objective case comparing the advantages and drawbacks of your current program versus an endowment Fund with the Whatcom Community Foundation.
  3. Complete the paperwork. Our fund agreement is all you need to get started. Most people have questions about variance power and the irrevocability of gifts made to the Community Foundation. Please contact us with any questions you may have.
  4. Tell us about your goals. We’re here to help your organization achieve its mission in the long run. If you want to market this new endowment Fund to your current or prospective donors, or to others in the community, we can provide assistance. We often help nonprofits structure their donors’ major and planned gifts to build their endowment Funds.
  5. Let us handle the administrative details. Once your Fund is established, we handle all investment management and investment oversight activities. It is our job to invest the funds, conduct quarterly reviews of their performance against benchmarks (via our Investment & Finance Committee), and consider changes where performance is lagging.

 Considerations

The Foundation is an excellent vehicle for developing your agency endowment with maximum advantage. A few items to consider:

  • The IRS requires that funds within a community foundation be considered assets of the foundation (otherwise the foundation would operate like a bank.) While all gifts to your fund are restricted only for the use of your agency and you receive the income each year, you cannot:
    • spend the principal at will (of course, the agency would not do this anyway; funds are held as a true endowment),
    • remove your funds from the foundation unilaterally,
    • direct how the assets in your agency endowment fund are invested. In other words, you receive the benefits of the income on all gifts to your endowment fund, but do not manage the fund itself.
  • Community foundations invest endowment funds for both long-term growth and income. Foundations expect excellent, if somewhat conservative, investment management. You should expect long-term growth and a reasonable return, but not wildly speculative risk or unusually high income.
  • To help offset administrative costs, the Foundation charges a small fee for establishing and maintaining agency endowment funds.

We are proud to manage the following agency endowments for a number of Whatcom County nonprofit organizations: 

Agape Home for Women and Children Endowment Fund
Bellingham Parks and Recreation Endowment Fund
Bellingham Public Library Agency Endowment Fund
Brigid Collins Endowment Fund
Compass Health Endowment
Ferndale Band Boosters Endowment Fund
Ferndale Double Dome Fund
Lighthouse Mission Endowment Fund
Lydia Place Endowment Fund
Master Gardener Foundation of Whatcom County Endowment 
Mount Baker Theatre Endowment Fund
Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Endowment
Northwest Youth Services Endowment Fund
Pioneer Meadows Montessori School Endowment
Whatcom County Library Foundation Endowment
Whatcom Land Trust Endowment Fund
Whatcom Literacy Council Endowment Fund
Whatcom Symphony Endowment Fund