Talking About Our Endowment
What is Church of the Redeemer’s endowment?
The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer is blessed to have received special gifts from parishioners who wanted Church of the Redeemer to have permanent savings to care for our facilities and to supplement our pledge income.
Such permanent savings are often called an “endowment.” Here at Church of the Redeemer we have several endowments that are managed together. We have our Permanent Property Fund (PPF) and our Ministry Endowment Trust (MET). The MET is a ‘trust of trusts’ as it consists of 3 distinct funds combined into one investment account: the Outreach Endowment Fund, Christian Education Endowment Fund, and the Music Endowment Fund. Other endowed or designated investment accounts include Capital Improvements Fund, Air Conditioning Endowment and Replacements Funds, Columbarium Fund, Memorial Fund, Memorial Garden Fund, MEAC Reserves Fund, Preschool Fund, Project Fund, and Cash Flow Management Fund.
The endowed funds are permanently set aside by donors or by the Vestry. Some of our donors have specified uses for their endowment gifts. A limited portion of the funds is distributed each year to supplement our general budget. All funds are invested with professional advice.
When did the endowment begin?
Church of the Redeemer set up a foundation in 1980. Then, in 1990, the Vestry approved the establishment of a “Permanent Property Fund” trust (the PPF). The PPF was to further worship and the work of Christ’s Church by providing “income for the maintenance, repair, preservation and operation of the building” and “thereby alleviating the necessity to fund such expenses out of the annual giving fund or other sources of church income.” The three trustees of the Foundation became trustees of the PPF and the Vestry moved the Foundation assets to the PPF endowment. In 2004, the Ministry Endowment Trust was created “for the purpose of furthering the worship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the work of Christ’s Church on earth.” The three PPF trustees are also the trustees of the MET.
Why does Church of the Redeemer need an endowment?
As churches go, Church of the Redeemer is a sizable organization. In order to do the work God has given us to do, we employ a number of clergy and staff, year in and year out. The limited income drawn from the endowment to supplement our budget gives us the breathing room and flexibility to assure year over year continuity for our programs, our worship services, our clergy and staff, and our outreach. However, if our pledges all dried up, we could not draw down the endowments to ‘make up’ that pledge shortfall. In truth, we are much more dependent on our pledge dollars than on our endowments.
Isn’t the Church of the Redeemer endowment just like a rainy-day fund?
Not at all! While the endowment funds remain the property of Church of the Redeemer, they must be “held and administered separately from” other church assets. This means that, while we receive a specified income distribution from the endowments each year, the funds themselves are permanently restricted from outright distribution to the church. Under the explicit terms of the trusts, the Trustees are prohibited from “invading”—spending—the principal beyond the specified annual income distribution.
Do any pledged dollars go to the PPF endowment?
Over the past several decades, Church of the Redeemer has been blessed to receive special gifts to its endowment. Some of these have been made during capital campaigns including, most recently, the 2011 Enliven Our Vision campaign which specifically sought gifts to endow mission and outreach programs of the parish. And we have had many parishioners bless us with gifts to Church of the Redeemer through their estate plans (wills and trusts).
Who is in charge of Church of the Redeemer’s endowment?
The three parishioners elected as PPF (and MET) trustees are legally in charge of all endowed funds. At each February annual meeting, the parish elects a trustee for a three-year term so that the terms of the three serving trustees are staggered. Trustees may serve two consecutive terms.
In 2005, the Vestry created an Investment Advisory Committee or ‘IAC’ to assist the three trustees with investment advice. The three IAC members are elected at the annual meeting and have no specified terms. The IAC has no legal authority over the endowments. The three trustees and the three IAC members working together with Ft. Washington Investment Advisors, Inc., comprise the Investment Fund Committee.
How are the endowed assets invested?
Endowed funds are invested by the Trustees (working as part of the Investment Fund Committee) according to a written “Policies and Objectives for Investments of Pooled Funds.” These detailed investment guidelines call for the endowed funds to be invested for a balance between preservation of capital and generation of investment revenue with a goal of a return of 5% plus inflation based on investment in diversified asset classes with a portfolio risk level appropriate to employee pension funds. The guidelines offer asset classes and allocations, performance benchmarks, and procedures for reviewing and evaluating the performance of investment managers while prohibiting speculative investments.
Is the income from the PPF and MET endowment just accumulated or spent?
The original PPF trust calls for the annual income to be used “for the maintenance, repair, preservation and operation of the building… including landscaping, verger and sexton salaries, and replacement reserves.” If there is excess PPF income then the trust permits that it may be distributed for “general budget purposes.” Currently the annual distribution from PPF equals 5% of the prior 3-year average balance of the invested monies. The MET trust adopts a formal “spending policy” that aligns with those used by other not-for-profit foundations. The annual distribution to Church of the Redeemer is 5% of the prior 3-year average balance of the invested funds for the Christian Education and Outreach Endowment funds and 4% of the prior 3-year average balance of the Music Endowment fund. This “trailing three year average” method has the effect of smoothing out year-over-year changes in market conditions.
How important are the PPF distributions to the church budget?
In recent years, the PPF distributions have provided a significant portion of the operating budget for the church. For 2018, PPF accounts for 28% of Church of the Redeemer’s budget.