When it comes to charitable giving, endowment is a term that is often used. But what does it actually mean?

In simple terms, an endowment is a fund that is set up by an organization or individual to provide a source of income for a specific charitable purpose. While the term may seem complex, understanding the basics of endowment can help you make informed decisions when it comes to your charitable giving and legacy planning.

Endowments are typically created as a way to ensure the long-term sustainability of an organization or specific cause. The funds are invested at your community foundation, with the income generated from those investments being used to support the charity or cause of your choice. The major difference between an endowment fund and a typical investment fund is that the benefactor of an endowment fund is one or more non-profit organizations instead of individual investors. Typically, the principal value of an endowment fund is kept intact, while the investment income is used for charitable purposes in the form of grants. This allows the organizations you choose to have a consistent and reliable source of income over time.

That is one of the key benefits of building your fund to endowment; it can provide a stable source of funding over a long period of time, which can be especially important for nonprofits that may experience fluctuations in funding from year to year. By having an endowment, the organization you support can better plan for the future and ensure they are able to continue to provide services or support their mission even during lean years.

Another benefit of endowment is that it can provide a lasting legacy for donors. When you create an endowed fund with a planned gift, cash, equities, bonds, and other types of securities, your donation is invested and will continue to generate income. This means that your gift can have a long-lasting impact on the community, even after you are gone.

And while endowments can be a powerful tool for charitable giving, it is important to understand that not all endowments are created equal. Some endowments may have restrictions on how the funds can be used, while others have been created to be more flexible. It is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of any endowment before making a donation to ensure that your gift will be used in the way that you intend. Be sure to talk to your professional financial advisor to learn which type will best work with your long-term charitable goals.

Establishing an endowment at the community foundation is a powerful tool for ensuring the long-term sustainability of your favorite nonprofit organizations and causes. By providing a reliable source of income over time, the endowments that you create can help to ensure that organizations are able to continue to pursue their mission and make a difference in our community and the world. If you are thinking about your legacy, planning to endow your fund is a great way to create something special and support the causes you care about for generations to come.