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Nonprofits agree: Agency fund management is a wise investment

One of the ways the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region strengthens the communities we serve is to help hundreds of charities and nonprofit agencies manage their funds.

In other words, when organizations like Fox Valley Symphony, the Kaukauna Public Library, Rawhide, Navarino Nature Center, Community Clothes Closet, and even school systems and churches want to place their donors’ gifts in the hands of fund managers, they trust the Community Foundation to be wise stewards of those funds.

“We manage about 275 agency funds from across the Fox Valley, so the staff members and volunteers of these organizations can focus on their mission, programs and serving their own clients,” says Kelly Randerson, finance manager at the Community Foundation. “We take care of every detail in providing professional investment management, facilitating planned giving discussions with donors, and providing online access to help agencies find and analyze their reports.”

Community Clothes Closet

While many of those agency funds are endowment funds, an increasing number are supported by more complex gifts, such as appreciated stock, insurance, real estate and charitable gift annuities.

Here is a list of nonprofit agencies across Outagamie, Calumet, Shawano and Waupaca counties and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago county, whose staff and board members have established fund accounts with the Foundation.

“Establishing an agency endowment fund with us is a simple and efficient way to build an ongoing source of income for your charitable organization,” Randerson says.

United Way: “Walking arm-in-arm”

United Way Fox Cities team

One of the largest charitable agencies in the area is the United Way of the Fox Cities. The nonprofit opened its first endowment fund at the Foundation over 20 years ago, and today has many different funds including six Circle of Caring opportunities for donors to make a lasting impact to meet the greatest needs of our community, now and in perpetuity.

“We are proud to partner with the Community Foundation for almost everything we do,” says Peter Kelly, president and CEO of United Way Fox Cities.

When Kelly started at United Way they had a small endowment fund at the Foundation.  They managed their reserves and investments separately.  The organization’s volunteer leadership made a strategic decision to consolidate all its funds at the Community Foundation and to create endowments that give donors opportunities to make legacy gifts that support the critical work of United Way Fox Cities.

“Managing our reserves and endowments is not our strength. We decided the best thing to do was to have all of our investments at the Community Foundation. Our money is right there with the Foundation’s money, and we know their investment committee is going to make sound decisions in the interest of serving the donors,” Kelly says. “It says a lot to the community when our two organizations can walk arm-in-arm together to invest collaboratively rather than go in different directions.”

Habitat for Humanity: “A No-Brainer”

Credit: Habitat for Humanity

A lot of elbow grease and sweat equity goes into helping fulfill the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity’s mission to provide simple, decent and affordable housing for those in need.

“For us it has been a tremendous asset to have the expertise from Community Foundation to help manage the generous resources that are entrusted to us from donors in the community,” says John Weyenberg, executive director of Habitat for Humanity.

Like United Way, Habitat established its first endowment fund with the Foundation two decades ago, and Weyenberg hasn’t looked back.

“As we looked at our investment policy, we’d considered managing it ourselves, and we thought, ‘boy, this is a little out of our expertise, and staying on top of it would be quite challenging.’ We’d looked at a number of options including for-profit investment companies. We just kept coming back to the Community Foundation.”

In the years to follow, the nonprofit has expanded and added two more agency non-endowed funds.

“Not only does the Foundation have a great track record of managing funds, investing wisely and being great stewards of donor resources, they’ve been a great partner to have in providing funding resources as we start new programs or expand on existing programs. It just made good sense for us to partner with the Foundation. We have a strong, trusting relationship, so it really is a no-brainer.”

Xavier Catholic School System: “Helping us make wise decisions”

Credit: Xavier Catholic Schools

Xavier Catholic Schools Systems Foundation, Inc., has a three-pronged investment philosophy – to make the best use of resources, be visible in the community and be good stewards with donor’s investments – which is closely aligned with the Community Foundation.  The Xavier system has 85 different funds managed by the Community Foundation.

“The Foundation’s staff is invaluable in helping us make decisions on the best use of our funds, and there is a strong trust level there,” says Bob Biebel, vice president for advancement. “The Foundation is very familiar with our different donors and the financial vehicles available within the industry that can benefit the families and students we serve.”

Biebel says the Foundation helps provide flexible options enabling Xavier to structure investments based on the passions of individual donors.

“Whether we’re tapping an endowed fund or a spend-down fund, it’s nice to use that knowledge to match scholarships and tuition assistance to the unique disbursement needs we have in a particular school year,” Biebel says. “It allows us some flexibility within each general fund, and match those up with the recipients.”

For more information on setting up an Agency Fund, email Kelly Randerson or call the Foundation at 920-830-1290.

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