Although the Lupus Foundation of Northern California (LFNC) has been established 30 years, each year we struggle to raise sufficient funds from individuals, corporations and foundations to cover our basic expenses. The economic downturn these last few years has greatly impacted our ability to generate sufficient funds to end the year with a balanced budget. Last year we were faced with even greater financial challenges to be able to continue to provide our unique and valuable services to all who depend upon us and to remain financial viable.
If the LFNC was not at times faced with urgent financial concerns, we could focus less on “crisis management of our finances” and respond more promptly to and devote more time with the many thousands of clients who contact us each year. Consider how much more beneficial our services would be for those who live with lupus if LFNC staff were able to provide more individualized assistance and more prompt responses. Imagine the impact--the quality of life for so many would be changed for the better for the long term.
Five years ago, realizing the importance of estate planning programs to ensure our financial well being for the long term, I applied to the Silicon Valley Planned Giving Society (SVPGS) for LFNC to become a mentee organization in their planned giving Incubator Project. We were delighted when the LFNC was selected to participate.
Two mentors were assigned to our organization. For the past three years Rick Gross, a trust officer with a local bank who has extensive planned giving experience, has provided valuable time and insight to our organization. Joining us this year as co-mentor is estate planning attorney, Henry Roux. Henry has been an exceptional addition to our team.
An endowment is a fund that holds gifts of money or property to an institution such as the LFNC for a specific purpose as designated by the donor or the institution. The principal remains in the endowment fund permanently and an amount equal to approximately five percent of this legacy fund is distributed to the organization each year, in perpetuity, for its operations and program expenses. Often there are segregated funds within the endowment e.g. memorial funds, funds for health education, supportive services, community outreach or youth services, etc. When endowment funds are donor-directed to a segregated fund, interest from this fund is allocated for the intended purpose each year.
Perhaps you would like to donate a gift that would ensure that our organization receives $1,000 annually from our endowment. A single major gift of $20,000 made now assures that $1,000 (five percent of your initial gift) will be allocated from the endowment to the LFNC for its vital services each and every year. While cash is often used to fund gifts to endowment , other assets such as real property, life insurance, appreciated stock and bonds also work well and may have some additional tax benefits. Just like any other gift, you may make it at any time during your life via a direct gift, or through a charitable trust, or gift of a remainder interest in your residence or farm, or when you pass on through your trust or will. Imagine what an impact this and other gifts will make as the endowment grows.
This original article was prepared by Jo Dewhirst, Executive Director of the LFNC, with editorial assistance from Rick Gross and Henry Roux.