GREAT FORESTS: With ever-changing higher education throughout the country, constant sources of funding are hardly guaranteed.
Reducing state dollars for many institutions could make fundraising an even more attractive option than it is today. In North Dakota, as in most of the country's colleges and universities, much of the fundraising goes to building and growing an endowment, an investment fund that grows over time and returns profits to the campus.
The institutions of the North Dakota University System differ in the total values of the endowments at their disposal, and the larger schools have the largest investment portfolios. But in other structural forms, endowments are marked with similarities.
For example, the endowment of the University of North Dakota is located on the bridge of government of the Association and Foundation of Alumni of UND. The participation of a foundation of alumni in maintaining these funds is a standard feature throughout the NDUS.
DeAnna Carlson Zink is the executive director of the UND foundation. As the largest school in the NDUS, it is added that the investment portfolio is the right size.
Carlson Zink said that the total endowment that serves the university is approximately $ 283 million. That number does not include all the money in the foundation's portfolio, but it gives a strict idea of the endowed funds, dollars earmarked for specific purposes on the UND campus.
The total value of an investment portfolio affiliated with the university can be significantly higher. Milo Smith, director of communications for the UND Foundation, said the organization's investments also include several trust funds and more diverse assets, such as mining rights. When all these assets are accumulated, the total investments held by the UND Foundation amount to a whopping $ 340 million. However, for the task of defining an endowment, Smith played down the large number.
"It's not a number we really use," he said of the investment portfolio in its entirety. "It's not relevant to what we're doing."
Endowment funds that regularly find the way for students are conservatively invested in assets that attract long-term profits. In UND, as is the case in many other NDUS institutions, the actual investment is managed by a third party. UND partnered with the national SEI Investments Co.
The most local level of management is overseen by a board of directors that forms policies that guide the nature of the investment strategy. As a non-profit organization, the foundation is regularly audited.
Carlson Zink said that donors provide their gifts with specific endowment agreements to instruct how the money will be spent to benefit UND. Yields on endowments depend to a large extent on how the financial market performs in a given year.
On average, Carlson Zink said: the funds returned to the campus from the total endowment of about $ 7 million per year. In the last five years, he said, the impact of the endowment has been $ 32.6 million. In total, including one-time gifts made to UND through the foundation, the gifts to the campus amounted to $ 20 million in the last fiscal year.
During fiscal year 2016, fundraising yielded a total of $ 26.3 million, the highest level of funding ever provided through the foundation. That sum was reached thanks to donations to cover large capital projects on campus, such as the Collaborative Energy Complex.
As the university continues its fundraising, he said, that number has steadily increased. The foundation now oversees more than 1,400 established donor endowments.
To the south, North Dakota State University has a similar treasure in its own heater. John R. Glover, president and CEO of the NDSU Foundation and the Alumni Association, said the total funding for the university is approximately $ 175.5 million. As in UND, the foundation has other investments besides the endowment. In total, Glover said the entire portfolio is worth almost $ 208 million.
The returns to the campus are approximately the same as in UND and are guided each year by the investment committee of the foundation. That group, Glover said, monitors the earnings of the endowment portfolio and makes recommendations on how much to allocate in campus expenses for the year.
In the past fiscal year, the NDSU Foundation gave a total of just over $ 20 million in support to the campus, broken down into $ 14.8 million for construction support and $ 3.75 million in scholarships. Of the total allocation, Glover said that $ 104.2 million, or nearly 60 percent, will be used to support scholarships for students, and the rest will be divided among other campus areas.
Foundations of smaller North Dakota colleges are also doing their part to attract donations. John Klocke, director of the Alumni Foundation at Mayville State University, said that the total MSU endowment is approximately $ 6.5 million, all of which is linked to scholarships.
Like the larger organizations, he said The investments of the MSU Foundation are overseen by external fund managers who use the board's policy of foundations to guide the investment strategy. That perspective, Klocke said, is intended to keep the funds "balanced and safe in the long term." The board of directors of the foundation maintains the responsibility of its managers by requiring them to present annual presentations, Klocke said. Depending on how the markets do it in a given year, that board manages between 1 and 5 percent of its student scholarship balance.
Four-year universities are not the only institutions that maintain endowments.
Lake Region State College is supported in part by the Community College Foundation. LRSC representative Erin Wood said that the foundation has existed since 1959 and finances the typical areas covered by its equivalent organizations in other institutions.
The Community College Foundation currently has more than 150 individual donations, most of which will support scholarships, and manages a total investment portfolio of approximately $ 9.7 million – $ 6.3 million of which are in permanently restricted allocations, funds specifically assigned according to the wishes of the donors.
Each year, Wood said, the foundation awards more than $ 250,000 in scholarships.
Across the Red River in East Grand Forks, Northland Community and Technical College has a total investment fund of more than $ 3 million, almost all of which is restricted in the envelope. Lars Dyrud, executive director of the NCTC Foundation, said that the majority of that money goes to scholarships. As with the other foundations, the annual funding of the campus is established on the strength of the market. And, again, the financing is overseen by an investment manager with a "very tight conservative policy" that guides how the assets are distributed.
During this past year, Dyrud said, the foundation distributed a total of approximately $ 150,000 for the university. Dyrud said that the investments are reviewed regularly, and that the foundation is audited annually.
NCTC is also currently in the midst of a large funding effort to add to the coffers of the foundation. With the help of Engelstad Family Foundation, the university expects to receive up to $ 100,000 in matching funds if NCTC can raise $ 100,000 on its own before April 1. Dyrud said the organization is currently at around $ 40,000.
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