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Endowment Frequently Asked Questions

What is an endowment? Saint Mary’s School’s endowment is a pool of individual, permanently restricted funds that are invested to provide income and revenue for Saint Mary’s School in perpetuity.  The primary objective of the endowment is to generate a long-term, total rate of return that will achieve real growth in endowment assets, while funding an annual distribution in support of the school’s mission.  We know our ability to provide a powerful education lies in both the delivery of our content and in strength from the endowment to provide meaningful support to our programs, facilities, and faculty. 

What is the current value of Saint Mary’s endowment? The market value of Saint Mary’s endowment is currently $25.6 million.  Most schools with which Saint Mary’s competes for talent have endowments that are substantially larger than ours – in the range of $60 to $300 million.  Our goal is to secure gifts during the Saint Mary’s Forever Campaign that will bolster our endowment and secure our future forever.  In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2019, Saint Mary’s endowment contributed $879,628 in support of mission-critical areas.

How is Saint Mary’s endowment managed? Saint Mary’s endowment is professionally managed by Greystone Morgan Stanley.  The Investment Committee of Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees monitors the endowment’s performance and ensures that investment returns, in relationship to overall financial market performance, are robust enough to fulfill our spending policy’s objectives.  To that end, Saint Mary’s uses a market-value based spending policy and annually distributes a maximum of 5% of the trailing twelve quarter average of the endowment’s market value.

How do I establish an endowment? A simple endowment agreement signed by the donor and representatives from Saint Mary’s School is all that is required to create an endowment.  Currently, the minimum amount for establishing and naming an endowed fund at Saint Mary’s is $25,000.  Endowments can be created with outright gifts during a donor’s lifetime or as a testamentary gift as part of a donor’s estate plan.  Often, donors choose to create a namesake endowment or an endowment in memory or in honor of a loved one.  At the time the fund is named, we hope to receive photographs and a brief biography of the honoree.  We will share this information with future beneficiaries of the endowment’s annual spend, as appropriate.  Gifts to the endowment are tax deductible.

Can I make a gift to an existing endowment? Yes!  There may be an existing endowment that reflects your interests and to which you can add your support.  The larger a fund is, the more it can accomplish each year.  You can make a gift of any size to an existing endowment fund without signing an endowment agreement.  For a complete list of current endowment funds by purpose, contact Shannon Williams, Director of Foundation, Grant, and Corporate Gifts, at swilliams@sms.edu or at 919-424-4104.

How can I ensure my endowment makes my desired impact at Saint Mary’s? When establishing an endowed fund, donors choose whether to include language that directs the use of income earned by the fund.  To set specific criteria for a newly endowed scholarship, a gift of $100,000 is required.  Formal criteria allows a donor to more fully achieve their philanthropic goal.  For smaller endowments, it is possible to include preferences that, while not required, may be considered.  Some examples of scholarship criteria/preferences are:

  • scholarship recipients from eastern North Carolina;
  • scholarship recipients who are boarding students;
  • scholarship recipients active in the performing arts; or
  • scholarship recipients who are student athletes.

Endowments may also be established for an unrestricted purpose.  Income from unrestricted endowments support the highest priorities of the school.

Our promise to our endowment donors

Every gift makes a difference in the lives of our students and the future of Saint Mary’s School.  We hope that you will stretch to make a gift of personal significance.  In return, we promise to respect your rights to the following:

  • to be informed of Saint Mary’s School’s mission, of the way Saint Mary’s intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes. 
  • to be informed of the identity of those serving on the governing board of Saint Mary’s School, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgement in its stewardship responsibilities.
  • to have access to Saint Mary’s School’s most recent financial statements.
  • to be assured your gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  • to receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
  • to be assured that information about your donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
  • to expect that all relationships with individuals representing Saint Mary’s School will be professional in nature.
  • to be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of Saint Mary’s School or hired solicitors.
  • to have the opportunity for your name to be deleted from mailing lists that Saint Mary’s may intend to share.
  • to feel free to ask questions when donating and to receive prompt, truthful, and forthright answers.

What if I have other questions? We would love to meet with you.  Please contact Julie Ricciardi, Director of Development, at jricciardi@sms.edu / 919 809-4858 or Shannon Williams, Director of Foundation, Grant, and Corporate Gifts, at swilliams@sms.edu / 919-424-4104 to arrange a time to discuss your questions.