I am often asked to speak to church leadership teams about endowments and over the years I have learned that many churches form their endowment committee without sufficient planning and by focusing on the wrong skillset for the committee members. It may be tempting to recruit bankers, brokers or other “financial” people, and indeed it is helpful to have at least one member who understands investing principles, but in my experience an endowment committee will not be fully successful unless it includes these three key individuals:
1. The Legacy Champion
Who in your church has a strong sense of legacy? Who has already made the decision to include the church as a beneficiary to their estate, life insurance policy or pension plan? This person is comfortable talking to others and would be willing to share their philosophy about the importance of planned giving for your church?
2. The Visionary
Who can share the vision of the church to encourage legacy giving so the vision continues into the future? This person can articulate the importance of the role of the church in your community and understands the need for appropriate funding. They are passionate about the mission and ministry that is ongoing and that is planned for the future and they are excited to share that passion to encourage others to help plan beyond the here and now.
3. The Policy Writer
Who will write a strong endowment policy? There needs to be a clear sense of purpose for the endowment and a coherent policy with clear guidelines is essential so that the generosity of donors is closely aligned with the vision of the church. If an endowment policy is clear it boosts the confidence of those being asked to donate, so they know that the money they are leaving for the church will be used in ways that they understand and support.
Too often when I walk into a church and give counsel about an endowment, people want to know how can we break the endowment policy, why can’t we just spend all the money today? That is a clear indication that either the financial leaders are not being respectful of the wishes of the original donors, or that the endowment policy was written without sufficient understanding of the long-term goals for the endowment.
As you consider these points think about how you would form an endowment committee for your church, get people excited about writing an endowment policy and touch the lives of people who are thinking about their legacy and how they can prolong the mission and ministry of your church for generations to come.
The Foundation can help you plan and implement an endowment – call or email us today to start the conversation.