Financial endowment

A financial endowment is a donation of money or property to a nonprofit organization which uses the resulting investment income for a specific purpose.[1] Usually the endowment is structured so that the principal amount is kept intact, while the investment income is available for use, or part of the principal is released each year, which allows for their donation to have an impact over a longer period than if it were spent all at once. An endowment may come with stipulations regarding its usage.

The total value of an institution's investments is often referred to as the institution's endowment and is typically organized as a public charity, private foundation, or trust. Among the institutions that commonly manage endowments are academic institutions (e.g., colleges, universities, and private schools), cultural institutions (e.g., museums, libraries, and theaters), service organizations (e.g., hospitals, retirement homes, the Red Cross, the SPCA), and religious organizations (e.g., churches, synagogues, mosques).


The earliest "endowed chairs" were those established by the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius in Athens in AD 176. Aurelius created one endowed chair for each of the major schools of philosophy: Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism. Later, similar endowments were set up in some other major cities of the Empire.[2][3]

The practice was adapted to the modern university system beginning in England in 1502, when Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and grandmother to the future king Henry VIII, created the first endowed chairs in divinity at the universities of Oxford (Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity) and Cambridge (Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity).[4] Nearly 50 years later, Henry VIII established the Regius Professorships at both universities, this time in five subjects: divinity, civil law, Hebrew, Greek, and physic—the last of those corresponding to what are now known as medicine and basic sciences. Today, the University of Glasgow has fifteen Regius Professorships.

Private individuals soon adopted the practice of endowing professorships. Isaac Newton held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge beginning in 1669, more recently held by the celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking.[5]


  • Unrestricted endowment can be used in any way the recipient chooses to carry out its mission.
  • Term endowment funds stipulate that all or part of the principal may be expended only after the expiration of a stated period of time or occurrence of a specified event, depending on donor wishes.
  • Quasi endowment funds must retain the purpose and intent as specified by the donor or source of the original funds and earnings may be expended only for the specified purpose.

Restricted endowments

Endowment revenue can be restricted by donors to serve many purposes. Endowed professorships or scholarships restricted to a particular subject are common; in some places a donor could fund a trust exclusively for the support of a pet.[6][7] Ignoring the restriction is called "invading" the endowment.[8] But change of circumstance or financial duress like bankruptcy can preclude carrying out the donor's intent. A court can alter the use of restricted endowment under a doctrine called cy-près meaning to find an alternative "as near as possible" to the donor's intent.[8] The restricted/unrestricted distinction focuses on the use of the funds; see quasi-endowment below for a distinction about whether principal can be spent.

College and university endowments

Academic institutions, such as colleges and universities, will frequently control an endowment fund that finances a portion of the operating or capital requirements of the institution. In addition to a general endowment fund, each university may also control a number of restricted endowments that are intended to fund specific areas within the institution. The most common examples are endowed professorships (also known as named chairs), and endowed scholarships or fellowships.

In the United States, the endowment is often integral to the financial health of educational institutions. Alumni or friends of institutions sometimes contribute capital to the endowment. The use of endowment funding is strong in the United States and Canada but less commonly found outside of North America, with the exceptions of Cambridge and Oxford universities. Endowment funds have also been created to support secondary and elementary school districts in several states in the United States.[9]

Endowed professorships

An endowed professorship (or endowed chair) is a position permanently paid for with the revenue from an endowment fund specifically set up for that purpose. Typically, the position is designated to be in a certain department. The donor might be allowed to name the position. Endowed professorships aid the university by providing a faculty member who does not have to be paid entirely out of the operating budget, allowing the university to either reduce its student-to-faculty ratio, a statistic used for college rankings and other institutional evaluations, and/or direct money that would otherwise have been spent on salaries toward other university needs. In addition, holding such a professorship is considered to be an honour in the academic world, and the university can use them to reward its best faculty or to recruit top professors from other institutions.[10]

Endowed scholarship/fellowship

An endowed scholarship is tuition (and possibly other cost) assistance that is permanently paid for with the revenue of an endowment fund specifically set up for that purpose. It can be either merit-based or need-based (which is only awarded to those students for whom the college expense would cause their family financial hardship) depending on university policy or donor preferences. Some universities will facilitate donors' meeting the students they are helping. The amount that must be donated to start an endowed scholarship can vary greatly.

Fellowships are similar, although they are most commonly associated with graduate students. In addition to helping with tuition, they may also include a stipend. Fellowships with a stipend may encourage students to work on a doctorate. Frequently, teaching or working on research is a mandatory part of a fellowship.

Financial operation

A financial endowment is typically overseen by a board of trustees and managed by a trustee or team of professional managers. Typically, the financial operation of the endowment is designed to achieve the stated objectives of the endowment.

At universities, typically 4–6% of the endowment's assets are spent every year to fund operations or capital spending. Any excess earnings are typically reinvested to augment the endowment and to compensate for inflation and recessions in future years.[11] This spending figure represents the proportion that historically could be spent without diminishing the principal amount of the endowment fund. However, the financial crisis of 2007–2010 had a major impact on the entire range of endowments globally.

Most notably, large U.S.-based college and university endowments, which had posted large, highly publicized gains in the 1990s and 2000s faced significant losses of principal across a range of investments. The Harvard University endowment fund, which held $37 billion on June 30, 2008, was reduced to $26 billion during the following year.[12] Yale University, the pioneer of an approach that involved investing heavily in alternative investments such as real estate and private equity, reported an endowment of $16 billion as of September 2009, a 30% annualized loss that was more than predicted in December 2008.[13] At Stanford University, the endowment was reduced from about $17 billion to $12 billion as of September 2009.[14] Brown University's endowment fell 27 percent to $2.04 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009.[15] George Washington University lost 18% in that same fiscal year, down to $1.08 billion.[16]

In Canada, after the financial crisis in 2008, University of Toronto reported a loss of 31% ($545 million) of its previous year-end value in 2009. The loss is attributed to over-investment in hedge funds.[17]


A quasi-endowment, or fund functioning as an endowment, are funds merely earmarked by an organization's governing board, rather than restricted by a donor or other outside agency, to be invested to provide income for a long but unspecified period, and the governing board has the right to decide at any time to expend the principal of such funds.[18] Separately from the endowment versus quasi-endowment distinction, there's another 2-way categorization of restricted and unrestricted, which focuses on the use of the funds. As an example, a quasi-endowment might be restricted by the donor to supporting the tennis team; the use is restricted to one purpose, but the governing board could "invade principal" to support the tennis team.

See also


  1. ^ Kenton, Will. "Endowment". Investopedia.
  2. ^ Frede, Dorothea (2009). "Alexander of Aphrodisias > 1.1 Date, Family, Teachers, and Influence". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  3. ^ Lynch, John Patrick (1972). Aristotle's school; a study of a Greek educational institution. University of California Press. pp. 19––207, 213–216. ISBN 9780520021945.
  4. ^ Lady Margaret's 500‑year legacy Archived 2007-05-16 at the Wayback Machine – University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ Bruen, Robert (May 1995). "A Brief History of The Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge University". Robert Bruen. Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  6. ^ Ashlea Ebelling (January 13, 2010). "Caring For Fido After You're Gone". Forbes. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  7. ^ Dhanya Ann Thoppil (February 19, 2015). "Monkey to Inherit House, Garden, Trust Fund – India Real Time". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Patrick Sullivan (June 12, 2012). "Bankrupt But Endowed – The NonProfit TimesThe NonProfit Times". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  9. ^ Kansas incorporated its first public school district endowment association in Paola, Kansas, a small town of 5,000 people, in 1983. Today, it has approximately $2 million in endowed principal, which generates approximately $110,000 annually to distribute in scholarships to high school graduates and fund special projects in the district, which can not be afforded by the tax base. To promote the development of endowment associations across Kansas, USD 368 Endowment Association, which received a statewide award recognizing, has developed a "starter kit" to assist other Kansas school districts in the organization and establishment of new endowment associations.
  10. ^ Cornell's "Celebrating Faculty" Website Archived 2005-05-01 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "SO NICELY ENDOWED!". 31 July 2004. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ Harvard fund loses $11B, a September 11, 2009 article from the Boston Herald Archived September 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Yale Endowment Down 30% Archived 2018-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, a September 10, 2009 article from The Wall Street Journal
  14. ^ Stanford University endowment loses big Archived 2009-09-06 at the Wayback Machine, a September 3, 2009 article from the San Francisco Chronicle
  15. ^ "404. Page Not Found - Bloomberg". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  16. ^ GW endowment drops 18 percent Archived August 31, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, an August 27, 2009 article from The GW Hatchet
  17. ^ Burrows, Malcom D. (2010). "The End of Endowments?". The Philanthropist. 23 (1): 52–61.
  18. ^ "Not-for-Profit Organizations". AICPA Audit and Accounting Guide. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: 367. May 1, 2007.

Further reading

External links

Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering

Founded in 1998, Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California (AMI-USC) is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to biomedical engineering technology development. The Institute is located on the University Park Campus of USC in Los Angeles, California and focuses on helping to bridge the gap between discovery research and product commercialization. As of 2017, the Institute financial endowment is $180 million, with over $150 million donated by medical device entrepreneur and philanthropist Alfred E. Mann.

Enoch Pratt Free Library

The Enoch Pratt Free Library is the free public library system of the City of Baltimore, Maryland. Its Central Library and office headquarters is located at 400 Cathedral Street (southbound) and occupies the northeastern three-quarters of a city block bounded by West Franklin Street (U.S. Route 40 westbound) to the north, Cathedral Street to the east, West Mulberry Street (U.S. Route 40 eastbound) to the south and Park Avenue (northbound) to the west. Located on historic Cathedral Hill, north of the downtown / central business district, the library is also in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere-Mount Royal neighborhood and cultural/historic district.

The Cathedral Street Main Library is the flagship of the entire Enoch Pratt Free Library system, now with twenty-two community / neighborhood and regional branches, it was designated the "Maryland State Library Resource Center" by the General Assembly of Maryland in 1971.Its establishment began on January 21, 1882 when long-time local hardware merchant, banking and steamship company executive and philanthropist Enoch Pratt, (1808-1896), offered a gift of a central library, four branch libraries (with two additional shortly thereafter), and a financial endowment of more than $1 million in a significant piece of correspondence, letter of offer to the then Mayor William Pinkney Whyte and the City Council of Baltimore. His intention was to establish a public circulating library that (as he described it): "shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books if they will handle them carefully and return them." The grant was soon accepted by the municipal government and approved by the voters later that year in an election on October 25th, 1882.From 1993 until August 11, 2016, Dr. Carla Hayden (formerly of the Chicago Public Library) served as the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland and is now the Librarian of Congress in Washington, D.C.. Hayden and the staff of the Pennsylvania Avenue branch were praised for keeping open the library on Monday April 27, 2015, during the recent protests and civil strife over the death of Freddie Gray. The library's location, at the intersection of Pennsylvania and West North Avenues in the northwest center city Sandtown-Winchester community, found itself at the center of the protests drawing nationwide and international attention, giving community members a safe place during the troubled times. Following Dr. Hayden's departure/promotion, August 11, 2016, the acting director of the library has been Gordon Krabbe, who has served as the library's chief operating officer since 1989.In July 2017, Heidi Daniel was named the new President & CEO of the public library system.

Episcopal Collegiate School

Episcopal Collegiate School is an independent college preparatory school located in Little Rock, Arkansas established in 1998 under the name "The Cathedral School."

In July 2003, it changed its name to Episcopal Collegiate School. It has a total student body of approximately 780 students and an average class size of 15, and the teacher to student ratio is approximately 7:1. It has a financial endowment of over $50 million, which was contributed by Jackson T. Stephens, his son, Warren Stephens and daughter-in-law, Harriet C. Stephens. Episcopal Collegiate School's colors are hunter green, white, and navy blue and its mascot is the Wildcat.

Exeter College, Oxford

Exeter College (in full: The Rector and Scholars of Exeter College in the University of Oxford) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England and the fourth oldest college of the University.

The college is located on Turl Street, where it was founded in 1314 by Devon-born Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter, as a school to educate clergymen. At its foundation Exeter was popular with the sons of the Devonshire gentry, though has since become associated with a much broader range of notable alumni, including William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, Richard Burton, Roger Bannister, Alan Bennett, and Philip Pullman.

As of 2016, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £68.7 million.

Independent school

An independent school is independent in its finances and governance. It is usually not dependent upon national or local government to finance its operations, nor reliant on taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, donations, and in some cases the investment yield of a financial endowment. It is typically governed by a board of governors which is elected independently of government, and has a system of governance that ensures its independent operation.

The terms independent school and private school are often synonymous in popular usage outside the United Kingdom. Independent schools may have a religious affiliation, but the precise usage of the term excludes parochial (and other) schools if there is a financial dependence upon, or governance subordinate to, outside organizations. These definitions generally apply equally to both primary and secondary education.

Jinnah University for Women

The Jinnah University for Women (JUW) (Sindhi: جناح يونيورسٽي فار وومين‎) is a private research university in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. It is an all-woman university and is the first women's university in the country.Established as a post-graduate college, its status as full-fledged university was upgraded in 1998 the Sindh Assembly. Major financial endowment and funding are managed by the Anjuman-e-Islam Trust. The university offers undergraduate, post-graduate, and doctoral programmes in science, arts, humanities, and general studies. As of 2010, the university was ranked among top institution of higher learning in "general category" by the HEC.

List of wealthiest charitable foundations

This is a list of wealthiest charitable foundations worldwide. It consists of the 40 largest charitable foundations, private foundations engaged in philanthropy, and other charitable organizations.

Only nonprofit foundations are included in this list. Organisations that are part of a larger company are excluded, such as holding companies.

The entries are ordered by the size of the organisation's financial endowment (that is, the value of assets net of liabilities, or invested donations). The endowment value is an estimate measured in United States dollars, based on the exchange rates on December 31, 2016. Due to fluctuations in holdings, currency exchange and asset values, this list only represents the valuation of each foundation on a single day.

Magdalen College, Oxford

Magdalen College ( MAWD-lin) is one of the wealthiest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford, with an estimated financial endowment of £180.8 million as of 2014.Magdalen stands next to the River Cherwell and has within its grounds a deer park and Addison's Walk. The large, square Magdalen Tower is an Oxford landmark, and it is a tradition, dating to the days of Henry VII, that the college choir sings from the top of it at 6 am on May Morning.

Nuffield College, Oxford

Nuffield College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is a graduate college and specialises in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics and sociology. Nuffield is one of Oxford's newest colleges, having been founded in 1937, as well as one of the smallest, with around 75 postgraduate students and 60 academic fellows. It was also the first Oxford college to accept both men and women, having been coeducational since its foundation.Its architecture is designed to conform to the traditional college layout and its modernist spire is a landmark for those approaching Oxford from the west.

As of 2006, the College had an estimated financial endowment of £146m, making it the fourth richest Oxford college by assets. Due to its small intake, it is the wealthiest educational institution per student in the world. Since 2017, Nuffield has committed to underwriting funding for all new students accepted to the college.

Pembroke College, Cambridge

Pembroke College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college is the third-oldest college of the university and has over seven hundred students and fellows. Physically, it is one of the university's larger colleges, with buildings from almost every century since its founding, as well as extensive gardens.

As of 2014 the college has a financial endowment of £67 million. Pembroke has a level of academic performance among the highest of all the Cambridge colleges; in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2018 Pembroke was placed second in the Tompkins Table.

Pembroke is home to the first chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren and is one of the six Cambridge colleges to have educated a British prime minister, in Pembroke's case William Pitt the Younger. The college library, with a Victorian neo-gothic clock tower, is endowed with an original copy of the first encyclopaedia to contain printed diagrams.

The college's current master is Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury.

Pembroke College, Oxford

Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. The college was founded in 1624 by King James I of England / VI of Scotland, using in part the endowment of merchant Thomas Tesdale, and was named after William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain and then-Chancellor of the University.Like many of Oxford's colleges, Pembroke admitted its first mixed-sex cohort in 1979, having previously accepted men only. As of 2018, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £58.5 million. Pembroke offers the study of almost all the courses offered by the university.

Dame Lynne Brindley, former head of the British Library, has been Master of the College since 2013.

President of the University of Notre Dame

The President of the University of Notre Dame is the chief administrator of the university. The president is selected by the Board of Trustees of the University, which has the general power of governance of the institution, and is second only to the University Fellows. The President of the University is ex officio member of both the Board of trustees and the Fellows.The University of Notre Dame is a private, non-profit Catholic research university in Notre Dame, Indiana, in the United States. Notre Dame is consistently recognized as one of the top universities in the United States, in particular for its undergraduate education.The first president was Rev. Edward Sorin, who was also the founder of the University, who started his term in 1844 when the University received its charter. Since then, there have been 17 presidents, the current one being Fr. John I. Jenkins, whose term started in 2005. Throughout the history of the University, the presidents have spearheaded change expansion. The longest serving president was Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, who first started enrolling women undergraduates, increased the financial endowment, expanded campus construction, and greatly increased the University's academic reputation during his 35 year long term. The president is selected for a renewable 5-year term by the Trustees of the University among the priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Many of the presidents have been Notre Dame alumni.

St Catherine's College, Oxford

St Catherine's College (often called Catz by college members) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its motto is Nova et Vetera, which translates as: "Things both new and old".

Catz claims to be "Oxford’s youngest undergraduate college and one of its largest". It developed out of the university's Delegacy for Unattached Students, later St Catherine's Society, and was founded in 1962 by the historian Alan Bullock, who went on to become the first Master of the college, and later Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. As of 2015, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £73.3m.

St Hugh's College, Oxford

St Hugh's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. It is located on a 14.5-acre (5.9-hectare) site on St Margaret's Road, to the north of the city centre. It was founded in 1886 by Elizabeth Wordsworth as a women's college, and accepted its first male students in its centenary year in 1986.

It enjoys a reputation as one of the most attractive colleges because of its extensive, pleasant gardens. In its 125th anniversary year, the college became a registered charity under the name 'The Principal and Fellows of St Hugh's College in the University of Oxford'. As of July 2013, the college's financial endowment was £25.7 million.

St Peter's College, Oxford

St Peter's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford and is located in New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, United Kingdom. It occupies the site of two of the university's medieval halls, dating back to at least the 14th century. The modern college was founded by Francis James Chavasse, former Bishop of Liverpool, opened as St Peter's Hall in 1929, and achieved full collegiate status as St Peter's College in 1961. Founded as a men's college, it has been coeducational since 1979.As of 2016, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £40.3 million.

Trinity College, Oxford

Trinity College (full name: The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in the University of Oxford, of the foundation of Sir Thomas Pope (Knight)) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. The college was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, on land previously occupied by Durham College, home to Benedictine monks from Durham Cathedral.Despite its large physical size, the college is relatively small in terms of student numbers at approximately 400. It was founded as a men's college and has been coeducational since 1979. As of July 2013, Trinity had a financial endowment of £104.2 million.Trinity has produced three British prime ministers, placing it joint-second with Balliol College in terms of former students who have held the office.

University College, Oxford

University College (in full The College of the Great Hall of the University of Oxford, colloquially referred to as "Univ"), is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. It has a claim to being the oldest college of the university, having been founded in 1249 by William of Durham.

As of 2016, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £114.9m.The college is associated with a number of influential people. Notable alumni include Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, Bill Clinton, Neil Gorsuch, Stephen Hawking, C. S. Lewis, V. S. Naipaul and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Wolfson College, Oxford

Wolfson College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Located in north Oxford along the River Cherwell, Wolfson is an all-graduate college with over sixty governing body fellows, in addition to both research and junior research fellows. It caters to a wide range of subjects, from the humanities to the social and natural sciences. Like the majority of Oxford's newer colleges, it has been coeducational since its foundation in 1965.The liberal philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin was the college's first president, and was instrumental not only in its founding, but establishing its tradition of academic excellence and egalitarianism. The college houses The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust and the annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture. The current president of Wolfson College is Tim Hitchens.

As of 2006, the college had a financial endowment of £33.5 million.

Worcester College, Oxford

Worcester College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. The college was founded in 1714 by the benefaction of Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, with the college gaining its name from the county of Worcestershire. Its predecessor, Gloucester College, had been an institution of learning on the same site since the late 13th century until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Founded as a men's college, Worcester has been coeducational since 1979.As of July 2016, Worcester College had a financial endowment of £73 million.Notable alumni of the college include the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, television producer and screenwriter Russell T Davies, US Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan, and novelist Richard Adams.

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