Endowments are as important as the asset being funded

Posted on August 19, 2014 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

So often nonprofit capital campaigns to build new structures take great pains to develop giving pyramids and create naming opportunities as steps for a successful campaign. One aspect that is often overlooked is how to finance the replacement maintenance of the structure being funded and celebrated. How often has a donor supported the new lab, swimming pool or building, and years later, the pool needs to be re-marcited or the roof needs to be replaced, and there are no funds available? Some organizations may take this as a cost of their mission and fund from operations, but many start seeking a grant or another donor to cover the expense but find other donors may not be particularly joyous to fund something named for someone else. Creating an endowment for the replacement maintenance is a way to ensure the beauty and functionality of structures in perpetuity. Including a contribution toward this endowment in a capital campaign will demonstrate thoughtful stewardship of a donor’s vision. It all starts with a conversation. At The Patterson Foundation, we took this approach during our partnership with the National Cemetery Administration to design, build and donate Patriot Plaza, a first-of-a-kind ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery. As an initiative of importance to our region, it was imperative to protect Patriot Plaza's legacy. These considerations for Patriot Plaza's future were an integral part of our planning, including provisions for the nature and timing of necessary structural replacements. This $1 million endowment will ensure Patriot Plaza's excellence for generations to come and upholds our commitment to honor veterans and their families through this ceremonial amphitheater. Patriot Plaza was donated to the National Cemetery Administration on June 28, 2014. Thanks to the Patriot Plaza endowment, the grandchildren of grandchildren of those in our region and its visitors will have a place of beauty to reflect and honor those who served our nation.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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