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The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley | Endowment Building Institute

About The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley

The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley enriches the surrounding region in many ways: by empowering donors, enabling their philanthropic aspirations, distributing meaningful grants, and bringing together members of the Upper Ohio Valley community in purposeful ways.

Recently, the Community Foundation sought to add new strategies for community betterment to its toolbox. In particular, Executive Director Susie Nelson was interested in equipping local nonprofits to achieve stronger, more stable futures—by increasing their endowments. (For more information on the purpose and benefits of endowment, you can explore the article here.)

Susie’s vision was clear. To secure gifts in support of endowment, nonprofits needed to better understand endowment: the underlying principles, how to build a powerful case for support, strategies for engaging donors and their advisors, and measures of success.

While searching for different speakers who could collectively cover this array of topics, Susie discovered Benefactor Group’s Endowment Building Institute: a series of six workshops carefully designed to help nonprofits increase their endowment assets. As Susie described,

Fifteen local organizations ultimately attended the Endowment Building Institute. Each organization had staff and volunteer representation, which helped to ensure buy-in from the organization’s development team, executive leaders, and board. Over the course of a year, participants received resource materials, built lasting relationships with the Community Foundation and one another, and engaged in six key sessions:

  • Understanding Endowment and the Case for Endowment Support, in which organizations learned the types of endowment funds, the importance of endowment, the role of the board, and tactics for building a strong case for support.
  • Identifying, Cultivating, Engaging, and Soliciting Donors, in which organizations discovered how to identify and engage likely prospects for endowment—and how to facilitate savvy solicitations when the time comes.
  • Kinds of Gifts and Necessary Policies, in which organizations explored the basics of current, deferred, and split-interest gifts, considered their planned giving priorities, and developed policies for the board’s approval.
  • Caring for Donors and the People They Trust, in which organizations learned to design legacy societies, implement outreach efforts to local professional advisors, set up recognition and stewardship standards, and encourage donors to become advocates and ambassadors.
  • Marketing the Endowment and Planned Gifts, in which organizations learned the core building blocks of an endowment marketing program, defined their primary markets, and explored compelling tactics and messages for each market.
  • Measuring Success and Building on It, in which organizations discussed strategies for evaluating success.

The results?

  • 15 organizations were equipped with the information to begin building endowment—and are now part of an active cohort of peers that remains eager to support and learn from one another. In fact, the organizations—desiring to build on the momentum generated—have continued to convene in the months following the Endowment Building Institute.
  • 13 of these organizations chose to open new agency funds with the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. Each received matching funds as part of the Community Foundation’s commitment to the Institute, which created strong financial footing for the work ahead.
  • Informed staff and board members are now prepared to be advocates for endowment, within and outside of their organizations.

As Susie shared:

If your organization is interested in bringing an Endowment Building Institute to your area, please reach out to Benefactor Group at (614) 437-3000.

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