Starting an Agency Endowment

Gorge Community Foundation Guide to the Designated Fund Program for Non-Profit Organizations

Why consider an endowment?

An endowment augments a non-profit organization’s resources by providing an ongoing and sustainable source of income. Because a permanent endowment is an invested pool of money that provides an income in perpetuity, the organization can count on annual distributions for its charitable work. Funds may be designated for endowment by the donor or by the board of directors. With appropriate investment and spending policies, the endowment’s purchasing power will be preserved.

An endowment also grows over time with additional donations, offering an opportunity for both outright gifts and for donors who wish to make legacy gifts that will serve the organization into the future.  Endowments can increase an organization’s financial independence, build donor confidence and further diversify revenue sources.

An endowment at the Gorge Community Foundation is a permanent fund that provides you with a return of 5% annually that you can use to support operations, a special program or initiative, or reinvest in your fund.  You receive an annual statement and tell us how you want to allocate your distribution.  Because your fund is invested with many others, it grows faster and administrative and management fees are lower.

This information is designed to educate Gorge non-profits and their board members about endowments and help you evaluate whether the time is right for your organization to consider creating an endowment.

Is your organization prepared for an endowment?

  • Leadership

Strong and experienced management, successful transitions of leadership and an active and diverse board are important to raising and utilizing endowments.

  • Financial Responsibility

Financial stability, accountability, a broad base of donor support, and a sound spending policy can maximize the benefits of an endowment program.

  • Resource Development Capacity

Experienced fundraising staff, volunteers, and a donor base that understands and is committed to the organization’s mission and to providing long-term support will help implement fundraising strategies to build and utilize an endowment.

Why place your endowment at the Gorge Community Foundation? 

  • We’re here for the Gorge

The Gorge Community Foundation is uniquely dedicated to serving the Columbia River Gorge, including Skamania and Klickitat Counties in Washington and Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam Counties in Oregon.  Funds raised here stay to build our communities and improve the quality of life for all Gorge residents.

  • Funds are professionally managed and benefit from a pooled portfolio

Funds are pooled to maximize returns and benefit from an investment strategy that emphasizes growth and stability.  Our professional firm of advisors is managed by the investment committee of the board and reports regularly.  Our investment policy is on our website and available upon request.

  • Receive support

Our non-profit partners are featured in our newsletters, social media, and press releases, letting the community know about special opportunities and projects.  We also have access to professionals at the Council on Foundations who can advise on many issues.

  • Save time and resources

We handle the legal work, annual tax filings, reporting and accounting, so your organization saves time and money.  You receive an annual statement (bi-annual for funds over $100K) that lets you know the value of your fund and available 5% distribution.

  • Join peer organizations throughout the Gorge

Over 40 organizations in OR and WA have entrusted their endowments to GCF.  We meet annually with fundholders as a group and more frequently upon request to answer questions and provide updates. 

How to participate

To open a Designated Fund for your organization at the Gorge Community Foundation, you must:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) public charity or a public entity such as a school or municipality
  • Be registered with the Oregon or Washington Secretary of State
  • Have a substantial mission of service to the Columbia River Gorge region
  • Create a permanent agency endowment fund at GCF with an initial investment of $1,000 and a commitment to bringing the fund to $10,000 (minimum for annual 5% distribution) within five years
  • The Gorge Community Foundation assesses a 1% annual management fee

Investment and distribution policies

  • Investment information

GCF invests endowment funds to build a diversified portfolio in accordance with an established investment profile.  Monthly reports are posted on a secure password-protected section of the GCF website and there is an annual meeting for all endowment partners with members of the GCF investment committee and fund managers.  Our investment policy is posted here on our website.

  • Payout policy

The distribution is 5% annually based on a two-year rolling average.  We report annually (twice a year for funds over $100,000) and you advise us on whether you wish to take or reinvest your distribution.

  • Donations

Donations to your fund may be made through your organization or directly to GCF, designated for your fund.  When we receive donations to your fund, you will be notified during the month immediately following receipt so you can acknowledge the donor.

  • Fund agreement and disclosure statement

The Gorge Community Foundation director will prepare these documents to be reviewed and approved by your board as well as the GCF board chair.

To discuss a presentation to your board of directors, or for more information, please contact Jill Burnette, executive director, at jill@gorgecf.org or 509.250.3525.

Every dollar earned from endowment is one less that you need to raise.