Endowments Support the Organizations We Love

“Fundraising is a three-legged stool between annual campaigns, capital campaigns, and endowment building,” remarked Tom Blaze, President & CEO of the Oshkosh YMCA, as he pondered the importance of endowments.  “Of those three, the endowment building gets the least attention, almost as an afterthought, but just like the other two legs it’s vital to keeping an organization upright.”

“Endowments are a permanent fund.  They are a source of income that will help us tend to projects that would otherwise be difficult to find funding for,” said Tom.  “For example, there was a year when we needed to replace the indoor soccer arena turf at the 20th Ave. YMCA for over one hundred thousand dollars.  Thanks to the endowment we were able to fill this need without having to campaign for it.”

_EAM2734.jpgOshkosh YMCA President & CEO Tom Blaze poses in front of the YMCA logo.

Endowment development is easy to put on the back burner because there can be more pressing things that come up, but endowments are crucial to the future of the YMCA.  While Tom is grateful to be leading the organization with its current endowment, noting that many organizations don’t have any at all to speak of, he has his sights set on growing their endowment threefold over course of the next decade.

“I think most people understand the importance of endowments.  In many cases the donors simply don’t know that we need it.  Bricks and mortar and other tangible things are relatively easy to raise funds for.  People like to literally see what their dollars are going toward shortly after they are given.  Endowment building takes much more foresight.”  Tom continued, “ I’ve learned throughout my career that people want to give – they just need to be approached and guided toward that decision.  The YMCA is a member organization.  Just because many of our members give to our annual campaign doesn’t necessarily mean they’re planning ahead to give to a long-term endowment, or consider us in a bequest.  Those decisions come about through years of relationship building, and I think that’s something that we do well.”

Where individual capacity and passion meet, endowments are born.  This is what supports the long-term sustainability of an organization, and what allows us to impact our community.  For good.  For ever.


Working With Financial Advisors to Secure Your Legacy of Giving

“Helen and John Schuster did a lot for their family and community while they were living, and now thanks to their foresight and smart planning, their estate carries on that work,” said Nick Jensen, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.  “The Schuster family gave in many areas throughout the community.  They were quintessential down-to-earth people, and it was a sincere pleasure to build a relationship with them for over 25 years.”

The Schuster estate was set up prior to Helen & John passing.  Nick helped them get everything in order so that their legacy would live on.  Posthumously this money is managed much like it was within their lifetime.  You only take out enough money that you need to live with, and that way you continue to let the principal grow, ensuring support in perpetuity for any organization you were passionate about.  

“When people come to me I don’t act as an estate attorney, but rather I get to know what their feelings are for our community.  I learn what they’re impassioned by currently, and connect those passions to opportunities within our community whenever possible.”  Nick went on further.  “It’s my privilege to help them identify broad areas that they’re interested in, and maybe even make some suggestions for things that they might not be aware of that are happening.  I gather those interests and then approach the Community Foundation.”

Library user Marcy Shukis enjoying large-print books made possible
thanks to donations from the Schuster estate.

Advisors partner with the Community Foundation and share that they have a client interested in a particular cause.  Then, Community Foundation staff will reach out and educate the client on causes and projects going on in our area that align with their philanthropic passions.  We showcase what those causes have done in the past, what they’re working on now, and what your gifts can allow them to do in perpetuity.

“It’s rewarding to help clients know that after they’ve passed away the money that they’ve worked for, invested, and saved continues to be used for good,”  noted Nick.  “ John loved to read Western novels, but he had a vision impairment.  He needed large print books.  Recognizing that there would always be members of our community with vision impairment, a portion of the Schuster estate was given to the Oshkosh Public Library for the purpose of providing large-print and audio books.”  

Thanks to realistic planning and mindful foresight, the things that John & Helen cared for will always help others in our community.  For good.  For ever.