Foundation’s grant total reaches highest amount ever

| January 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

Understanding how difficult the economy has been for those less well off, clients of Minnesota’s Catholic Community Foundation this past year used CCF’s financial services to try to help.

Giving to charities from CCF’s donor-advised funds last fiscal year pushed the foundation’s grant total to its highest amount ever.

Data released recently in the 2011 CCF annual report (covering the 12 months ending June 30, 2011) showed that the Catholic Community Foundation delivered $8.4 million in grants to Catholic parishes, schools, seminaries and ministries, the vast majority in Minnesota.

“I think what we saw was a heightened awareness of what the lack of jobs and the limited economy have done to so many people,” said Marilou Eldred, foundation president, “and our donors are extremely generous. There was an increase in the money going out from donor-advised funds.”

Foundation growing

The recent resurgence of the economy helped push the Catholic Community Foundation’s net asset total up 18 percent last year.

Over the past two years, assets for the foundation rebounded to their highest point ever — nearly $200 million — reversing the trend that saw a drop during the recession years of 2008 and 2009.

The annual report also noted:

• The grant total was a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

• 90 percent of the grants were made to entities in Minnesota.

• Since 1992, CCF has distributed grants totaling $89 million.

• The foundation’s long-term balanced growth fund, called the Cardinal Pool, achieved a 26 percent performance increase.

• The foundation also has $113 million in deferred gift commitments.

Gerald D. Brennan, vice chair of CCF’s board of directors, credited the foundation’s 11-person investment committee and investment consultant firm LCG Associates, Inc., for the foundation’s performance.

“We have a strong investment process and strong investment professionals,” Brennan said. “Our parishes and individual clients would be hard-pressed to replicate the expertise we have from such a broad range of investment areas.”

Brennan, first vice president of UBS Financial Services in St. Paul, acknowledged that investing is difficult, with last year’s winners in the market just as liable to falter this year.

“We have to look into a lot of places to find good returns now — we have to cast a broad net,” Brennan said. “And that’s why we’re so fortunate to have investment committee members whose expertise is in a broad range of investment opportunities. Unlike many investment committees — including ones I’ve been on — we lean on our investment consultant more for information than for advice.”

He said that a major focus of the CCF investment committee has been what’s labeled socially responsible investing. It’s a strategy that takes into account the purpose of people’s money.

“People want to know that their money will be invested in ways that will be supportive of values they treasure,” Brennan added.

Anniversary coming up

The Catholic Community Foundation, founded to financially support the spiritual, educational and social needs of the Catholic community, this summer will mark its 20th year. In the foundation’s work it seeks endowed funds that support the Catholic mission; helps parishes, schools and Catholic organizations manage long-term investments; and distributes earnings according to community priorities and donor intent.

CCF’s philosophy includes an emphasis on investments that adhere to Catholic moral principles as established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Community foundations originally were founded to keep philanthropic dollars in a specific community, Brennan noted, and one of the benefits of Minnesota’s Catholic Community Foundation is that its clients can be assured that the earnings from investments will not only be in sync with their values but be used here for the purposes they cherish.

Catholic Foundation investment conference is Feb. 8

A review of the Catholic Community Foundation’s investment pool, a preview of its investment outlook and an overview of the current investment environment are all on the agenda when the foundation holds its 17th annual Investment Conference Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Current and prospective donors, parish, Catholic school and institutional representatives and guests are invited to the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. lunch event at St. Joseph Church, 1154 Seminole Ave., West St. Paul.

The conference also will include a panel discussion on global economics and a session on ethical wills.

Attendance is free, but registration is required by Feb. 3. Register online or call (651) 389-0300.

Edward and Julianne Kocourek have had a Donor Advised Fund with the Catholic Community Foundation since September 2007. The couple, members of St. John the Evangelist in Hopkins (and St. Isabel in Sanibel, Fla.), are active grant makers, and use their fund to support a number of local charities. Via email, Ed answered The Catholic Spirit’s questions about the couple’s charitable giving.

Q: Was there a primary factor or two (or more?) that influenced your decision to use the Catholic Community Foundation as your means of charitable giving. You and your wife are relatively active givers and support a number of local charities. Is there something about the CCF process that is user-friendly, in your estimation, so that you’d recommend it to others?
Julie and I heard of CCF about five years ago. We determined that it would be a good vehicle to use for our personal giving. Virtually every charity that we support had already been screened by CCF and was on their approved list. We have always been active donors throughout our 50-year marriage, but the level of giving accelerated as the youngest of our eight children graduated from college.

At our request, CCF set up a Donor Advised Fund in our family name. We are able to transfer shares of stock to the foundation and take a tax deduction for the current value of these shares. The account is then fully invested in the market and earns interest, dividends and capital gains/losses on the balance.

CCF has a first rate web site. All of the grants from our account are made online. There is no need to write out checks, prepare envelopes or mail. That is all done by CCF. CCF sends a letter to the grantee spelling out from whom the gift was made and the intent of the gift.

The CCF web site maintains a detailed history of our gifts to the fund and all grants made from it. This is a great concept. It minimizes the work involved in making grants and provides a vehicle for growing our fund. It eliminates the costly expenses and regulation required to establish a private foundation.

Q: Have you found that CCF is growing your investments satisfactorily?
CCF’s returns on our Donor Advised Fund have been most adequate. They mirror returns that we have been earning on our personal portfolio.

Q: In a more general sense, why do you give, and why do you use the Catholic Community Foundation to facilitate your generosity?
Julie and I have always seen the need to give back to our schools, churches, other Christian organizations, provide for the needs of the poor, support pro-life organizations, etc. We made the joint decision to tithe over 30 years ago. CCF has made it much easier for us to carry out that decision.

Our Lady of Peace Parish in south Minneapolis has several endowment funds with the Catholic Community Foundation. Father Paul Treacy, the parish’s pastor, explained the relationship between his parish and the foundation in an email interview with The Catholic Spirit.

Q: Our Lady of Peace uses the services of the Catholic Community Foundation to handle a number of endowments. Are those endowments for the parish or the school or both, and how was CCF helpful?
We have four accounts with CCF set up since 2005. Each fund helps us support the parish and school in different ways: building maintenance and capital improvement, tuition assistance and general operating expenses of the parish and school. CCF helped us tailor each fund and choose the proper investment strategy. With the most recent endowment established, CCF helped us determine the language that will ensure that the funds would be dedicated to Catholic education for years to come according to the donor’s wishes.

Q: As a pastor, what do you see as the benefits to your parish of having access to those services?
It will be increasingly difficult to support Catholic Schools on tuition alone, and so strong endowments will be important for the future. For us, a key benefit of having access to CCF services is that they are the experts. When we learned that we would be receiving a sizeable stock gift, I was not sure how to proceed. Our business administrator knew right away to contact CCF. With help from the Catholic Community Foundation, Our Lady of Peace was able to accept the complex stock gift from a generous parishioner. Because of that gift, our school has renewed strength and will benefit from the permanent endowment established at the foundation on our behalf.

Q: Does it make a difference to you as pastor or your parish leaders that it is a local Catholic entity that Our Lady of Peace is entrusting with its funds? Why?
We feel very good that our endowments and funds are not only performing well, but also are invested in a way which supports the mission of the church. Their local presence is a blessing for us and the archdiocese. We have been very happy with the relationship with Catholic Community Foundation.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Local News