Wisconsin Conservation Endowment Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve put together some of our most frequently asked questions and answers. Keep reading below or download the PDF using the link in the button below!
Q. What is the Wisconsin Conservation Endowment?
Q. What is an endowment fund?
Q. Why create an endowment fund?
Q. Who can create an endowment fund?
Q. What is the minimum amount required to establish an endowment fund?
A. The minimum dollar threshold depends on the type of fund. See the table below for a description of each of the different fund types, and the minimum threshold to establish that type of fund. For all fund types except agency funds, an acorn fund option is available to start a fund with minimum contributions of $2,000-$8,000 per year, until the threshold for the fund is reached. Sub-accounts cannot be established through an acorn fund.
|Fund Type||Minimum Threshold||Description|
|Field of Interest Fund||$10,000||Created to support the Natural Resources Foundation’s priority impact areas: Public Lands and Waters; Wildlife; and Education. Distributions are made annually to support the purpose of the fund, towards the area of greatest need as selected by the Foundation.|
|Agency Fund||$15,000||Created by a nonprofit conservation organization to support the organization’s operations and programs. Distributions are made annually to the organization to support their operations or programs. Sub-accounts within an endowment fund can be established with a minimum gift of $15,000.|
|Designated Fund||$20,000||Created to support a specific conservation purpose. Distributions are made annually to support the purpose of the fund, as designated by the donor. Sub-accounts within an endowed fund can be established with a minimum gift of $20,000.|
|Donor Advised Fund||$40,000||Created to support a specific conservation purpose. Distributions are made annually to support the purpose of the fund, as advised by the donor.|
Q. What is the administrative fee?
A. The Foundation assesses an annual administrative fee of 1% on each fund. We have a sliding scale reduction for funds (0.9% for funds valued at $250,000-$499,999; 0.8% for funds valued at $500,000-$999,999; $0.7% for funds valued at $1,000,000 or more). Administration fees will be applied to each sub-account individually.
The fee is deducted quarterly from the fund, calculated as ¼ percent of the annual fee multiplied by the average fund value over the prior four quarters. Our administrative fee covers our operational expenses related to the administering and managing the endowment, including:
- Professional investment services and oversight for the fund, and maintenance of fund financial records and accounting services.
- Receipt, deposit, and acknowledgement of gifts to the fund, and administration of future bequests to your fund (if applicable).
- Processing of annual fund distributions.
- Communications to fund holders, and generation of fund financial reports.
- Marketing exposure through website, newsletters, annual reports, and other communications.
- Professional fundraising advice and assistance to grow your fund.
- Third-party annual financial audit and filing of all applicable annual state and federal reports.
Q. What is the investment fee?
Q. What is the fee on annual distributions?
Q. How is an endowment fund created?
Q. How is the endowment managed?
Q. Are dividends and capital gains distributed back to the fund holders?
Q. How does the endowment make distributions?
Q. How are the endowment assets classified?
Q. What are the options for making a distribution?
- distribute the full allowable amount;
- distribute a partial amount;
- reinvest the distribution back into the fund;
- accumulate the distribution for future use.
Q. How do you calculate the amount available for distribution?
Q. Can the funds be returned to the donor or transferred to another financial manager?
Q. What is the past rate of return on investments?
Q. How will you keep us informed of the fund’s activity?
Q. When will we receive our fund reports?
Q. What does the terminology in my fund report mean?
- Contributions – Non-Spendable: The sum of the contributions to the fund for the specified period. All contributions to endowed funds are permanently restricted – and therefore – non-spendable funds.
- Investment Earnings: The amount of dividends and interest allocated to the fund for the specified period. Because the endowment funds are pooled within the Wisconsin Conservation Endowment, these amounts are allocated based on each fund’s portion of the total investment account at the end of each month.
- Investment Management Fees: The fee charged by the investment manager (currently TIAA) on a monthly basis. The fee is allocated to each of the endowed funds based on each fund’s portion of the total investment account at the end of each month.
- Grant Distributions: Distributions made from the fund for the specified period.
- Endowment Administration Fees: Fees charged by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin for the administration of the fund. Fees are assessed on a sliding scale based on the fund’s value.
- Realized Gains/Losses on Investments: The cumulative amount of gains or losses on the sale of investments held with the investment manager over the specified period. These amounts are allocated based on each fund’s portion of the total investment account at the end of each month.
- Unrealized Gains/Losses on Investments: The cumulative amount of gains or losses of investments held with the investment manager that have not yet been realized (sold) in the specified period. These amounts are allocated based on each fund’s portion of the total investment account at the end of each month.
- Historical Fund Balance: The cumulative amount of contributions to a fund over the life of that fund.
Q. Why work with the Natural Resources Foundation?
- Wisconsin-based, conservation focus: The Natural Resources Foundation is not affiliated with a larger, national organization; all your contributions stay right here in Wisconsin. And because we are a conservation nonprofit organization, even your fund’s administrative fee is put to work helping to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources. Our staff’s conservation expertise ensures that your fund will have a deep, lasting impact on Wisconsin’s natural resources.
- Low fees: The Foundation uses passive investment fund management with TIAA. As a result, our investment fees are often lower than other fund managers that use active fund management. Because we are a conservation nonprofit organization, our low administrative fee of 1% goes right back to supporting Wisconsin’s natural resources. Endowment funds can be established starting at $10,000.
- Professional financial services and competitive fund returns: Our investment manager, TIAA, is one of the largest asset managers in the world. The Foundation’s board and investment committee bring a wealth of expertise to the oversight and management of our Wisconsin Conservation Endowment, which has generated competitive returns across our investment portfolio.
- Recognition and visibility: Your fund will be held by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, regarded as the lead, statewide foundation for conservation endowments.