Endowment Accelerator Toolkit

As a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), JCamp 180’s mission is to strengthen the long-term organizational effectiveness and financial sustainability of nonprofit Jewish camps to ensure our community’s future and connection to Judaism.

Please note that The Harold Grinspoon Foundation are not financial advisors. We can offer sample policy language and guidance about where you can seek financial advice but cannot provide that advice ourselves.

Securing Camp’s Future with a Permanent Endowment

JCamp 180 and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation believe that endowment should be an essential piece of Jewish camps’ financial model for a sustainable future. That is why we have created the Endowment Accelerator Matching Grant and related resources like this toolkit.

We encourage JCamp 180 camps to consider creating or growing your permanent endowment to assure your camp’s long-term organizational effectiveness and financial stability, helping to assure that your special brand of Jewish camp experience is available to future generations of Jewish children and young adults.

Why Endowment Building?

A permanent endowment is a pool of funds invested for long-term growth and income, where a portion of the income each year supports camp’s operations and programs. The defining feature of a permanent endowment is that the principal (the assets gifted to the fund) stays in the fund in perpetuity (forever) and grows year after year.

A permanent endowment can help minimize future financial burdens on camp by guaranteeing income in addition to operating revenue and annual fundraising results. Building your permanent endowment is also a great opportunity for your donors to make a lasting impact on camp. Through a gift to your permanent endowment, donors can feel secure knowing they will help generate income for camp to thrive for future generations.

You can build your permanent endowment in a number of ways.

  • Camps may fund their endowments using operating surpluses, excess reserve funds, unrestricted bequests, or a windfall from the sale of an asset.
  • Many donors will respond to a compelling ask by making current gifts of cash or other assets to establish and grow your endowment.
  • And your camp can inspire even more supporters to make significant gifts to your permanent endowment through after-life legacy gifts via their wills, retirement plans, or life insurance.

In combination, these methods offer a powerful, comprehensive approach to accelerating the growth of your camp’s permanent endowment.

This toolkit is designed to help move your camp’s leadership through five steps to success in building a permanent endowment:

  1. Assess your readiness to embark on an endowment-building effort;
  2. Understand how a permanent endowment fits into your camp’s financial goals;
  3. Explore your options for creating or building your endowment fund and refreshing your endowment-related policies;
  4. Plan for success in creating a new endowment or growing your existing permanent endowment;
  5. Develop meaningful relationships with your endowment donors that last a lifetime.

This guide is designed to be used by all camps, whether you are exploring the concept of a permanent endowment for the first time, looking for tips to boost your existing endowment fundraising, have a legacy program or not, or are somewhere in between.

Remember: Your JCamp 180 Relationship Manager is always available for additional support as you move through your endowment journey!

Note: You can download one document with all the linked resources here.

  • Step One: Getting Your Leadership on Board
    • Before you embark on an endowment-building initiative, it’s essential for your camp’s leadership to understand what a permanent endowment A pool of funds invested for long-term growth and income, where a portion of the income each year supports camp’s operations and programs. is and how it fits into your camp’s financial strategy. We strongly recommend you use our assessment tool and discussion guide to open a conversation with your board and executive leadership about how a permanent endowment fits into your long-term financial vision. A member of the JCamp 180 consulting team can help to facilitate this conversation for your board or camp committee.

      • Your top executive and board or camp committee chair should begin by discussing your vision for building your permanent endowment and aligning your thoughts before presenting options to your full board.

      Note: These are valuable conversations to have even if you already have a healthy endowment, as exploring these essential questions will provide clarity on your financial vision and strengthen your board’s commitment to your goals.

    • You can ask your board to make a commitment to your endowment goals by approving a resolution making your permanent endowment an organizational priority. Such a resolution can help ensure everyone is in agreement about your goals and priorities. Consider proposing one of these sample resolutions to your board, and editing it to meet your needs.

    • For a Deeper Dive:
  • Step Two: Establishing Your Permanent Endowment Fund
    • A permanent endowment is a pool of funds invested for long-term growth and income, where a portion of the income each year supports camp’s operations and programs. The defining feature of a permanent endowment is that the principal (the assets gifted to the fund) stays in the fund in perpetuity (forever) and grows year after year. For the purposes of JCamp 180’s Endowment Accelerator Matching Grant, your permanent endowment fund must meet these criteria. To meet the criteria of a permanent endowment, you may choose to create a new fund, or update the governing policies for an existing fund.

    • If you are creating a new endowment fund, the first step is to set up your fund with a reputable financial institution. For most organizations, the fees associated with third-party management will be a worthwhile expense in exchange for the experience, expertise, and management capacity that most camps cannot provide themselves. Your camp’s finance or investment committee can be charged with exploring your options for institutional management and making a recommendation to the board for discussion and approval.

    • Some options to consider when exploring where your fund will be held:
      • Explore whether your fund can be held and managed within the Jewish community, at your local Jewish Federation or Jewish Community Foundation. If your local Federation or Jewish Community Foundation is not the right fit, there are some Federations/Community Foundations that will establish endowment funds for organizations outside their main catchment area. Your JCamp 180 Relationship Manager can help connect you with the right contact in your community to open this conversation.

      • Reach out to your local secular Community Foundation to see what services they can offer you.

      • Speak with the institution you already bank with - or where your reserve funds are invested - to explore what kinds of investment vehicles and management services they can offer you.

      • You may also want to consider working with an advisor at a local investment firm or a national firm such as Vanguard or Fidelity to see what is recommended for your specific needs.

    • A permanent endowment is governed by a set of policies that determine how the fund is invested, how much money can be spent from the fund each year, how that money can be used, and what happens to the fund should your organization no longer exist. The financial institution that is managing your fund may offer their own versions of these policies as part of creating your permanent endowment. Your board may also choose to have its own policies to govern your internal operations such as how often you want to meet with the fund manager, who will serve on the investment committee and when, if ever, you want to evaluate if the current manager is right for your organization.

      Click here to view descriptions for each of the policies required when setting up a permanent endowment fund.

      You can also click below to view sample endowment policies that meet the criteria for HGF’s Endowment Accelerator Matching Grant. Please note these are samples only, and there are many variations on these policies that will meet the grant criteria.

    • For a Deeper Dive:
      • If you are establishing a permanent endowment fund for the first time, we advise that you start by establishing a single, unrestricted-use fund to which all donors can contribute. However, some camps may wish to allow donors to set up individual named endowments that will generate income for a specific use (e.g., an annual scholarship in memory of a loved one). You can work with your endowment manager to understand and set requirements for individual funds, such as minimum gift amounts and required agreements between your camp and the donor. You can find a sample agreement for establishing this type of fund with an individual donor here.

      • We encourage your board to approve a “Windfall Gifts Policy” that provides guidance on how large and unexpected gifts should be used. For example, your windfall policy might dictate that for unexpected gifts over a certain amount you will spend a certain portion and you will put a certain portion into your permanent endowment.

        A windfall policy can also include how you will treat any legacy gifts that are received. For example, your policy might state that all bequests and other realized legacy gifts will go into the permanent endowment unless otherwise specified by the donor.

  • Step Three: Setting Campaign Strategy and Goals
    • Now that your camp’s leadership has made the decision to build or grow your permanent endowment, and you have begun exploring the mechanics of setting up your fund and its accompanying policies, it’s time to create a plan for your endowment fundraising campaign. Your action plan will serve as the roadmap throughout your endowment campaign, and taking time for thoughtful planning now will ensure your success. Remember, your endowment fundraising plan does not stand alone. It should be integrated into your organization’s comprehensive fundraising plan each year. You can ask your JCamp 180 Relationship Manager to assist you in strategizing and finalizing your plan.

    • The first component of your action plan will be writing your Case Statement, which is a one-page document outlining the importance of building your permanent endowment. A compelling Case Statement will answer donors’ most likely questions: why camp, why endowment and why now. You can use this worksheet to get started on writing your Case Statement.

    • Next, you will need to set goals for your campaign. Together with your camp’s leadership and your campaign team, determine how large of an endowment you are aiming for, over what period of time, who your endowment giving prospects are, and what your engagement, solicitation, and stewardship strategies will be. You can use this guide to help you get started with setting your goals.

    • The third component of your action plan is an Implementation Plan. A successful endowment campaign will include many different components - everything from creating marketing materials, to setting meetings with donors and writing thank you letters. Here are some tips when creating an Implementation Plan to keep your campaign effectively moving forward:

      • Use a format that works for your team. This may be a bulleted checklist or a calendar. You may also consider using a project management software, like Asana or Monday.

      • Be as specific as possible. Include detailed descriptions of the work that needs to be completed, as well as key deadlines and who is responsible for each activity.

      • Setting regular meetings for your team to review your Implementation Plan can help your team stay accountable to each other and keep your work moving forward.

    • For a Deeper Dive:
  • Step Four: Engaging Your Community
    • Identifying the target audience for your endowment campaign and prioritizing your outreach efforts will give you a roadmap to start spreading the word to your community. We encourage you to make a list of the groups who are most likely to want to help build your permanent endowment (e.g., board members, alumni, current camp parents and grandparents) and then list the top individuals that come to mind in each group. You can use this worksheet to learn more about who makes a good endowment donor prospect and create your outreach list.

    • Creating a marketing strategy is essential to getting the word out to your community about your efforts to build your permanent endowment. Here are some questions to consider as you create your marketing plan:

      • Which communication vehicles are already in place where you can include messaging about your endowment campaign? For example, can you add messaging about your permanent endowment into your newsletter, social media posts, announcements at events, special signs at camp, etc.

      • Can you create or update a designated page on your website where donors can learn about the impact of contributing to your permanent endowment fund and becoming a member of your legacy society? Ramah Darom and Surprise Lake Camp both have nice examples to check out.

      • Can you collect and share testimonials from donors who have made outright gifts or legacy commitments to your permanent endowment, such as these examples from Camp Ramah in Wisconsin?

      • Can you print brochures inviting community members to join in your efforts to build a permanent endowment that can be handed out at community events, such as this example from Shalom Institute?

      • Can you add a line inviting community members to join your efforts to build a permanent endowment to the email signature of all staff and board members? “Be remembered forever and help to secure camp’s future by building our endowment with a gift now or a legacy commitment in your will, trust, retirement account or life insurance policy. Click here for more information.”

        Use this checklist for more ideas about the broad range of marketing materials that can help you get the word out in your community.

    • Practicing conversations about endowment giving with your team will help members feel confident reaching out to donors. Use this guide to help your team prepare. Your JCamp 180 Relationship Manager can also arrange a training on this topic for your team.

    • You are now ready to begin having conversations about building your permanent endowment fund with members of your camp community! Use your case for support, marketing strategy, target audience list, and the conversation skills you have practiced to launch your campaign. Starting with your donors and prospects most likely to respond “Yes!” enthusiastically - including your own board members - will generate early momentum and set examples for others to follow.

    • It’s essential to acknowledge and thank donors immediately after they make their gift, pledge, or legacy commitment. A formal letter included with their tax receipt, an email, quick phone call or handwritten card can all be great options for a timely thank you message. We will also explore how to build a great year-round stewardship program in Step Five.

    • For a Deeper Dive:
  • Step Five: Building Relationships That Last a Lifetime
    • Donor stewardship is the critical relationship-building process that takes place after a donor makes their gift. It is vitally important. Donors who contribute to your permanent endowment are investing in the future of camp, and their commitment to camp’s future will continue to grow when you continue to deepen your relationship. Personalized stewardship steps like reporting on the performance of your endowment fund, inviting donors to visit camp, and sharing stories of camp’s impact are excellent ways to integrate your endowment donors into all fundraising efforts and strengthen their connection to camp - and stronger relationships often lead to additional giving.

    • Stewardship is particularly important for donors who have made legacy commitments. A 2015 study found that most people will update their wills within the five years prior to their death, so sustaining relationships with your legacy donors for a lifetime is critical.That same study also found that donors increased their average annual giving by 75% after making a legacy commitment - deepening your relationship with legacy donors increases their lifetime giving as well as their after-life giving commitment (Russell James, 2015).

    • Creating and implementing a donor stewardship plan is essential to the success of all your fundraising efforts. A stewardship plan is simply the list of activities and timeline you will use to connect with your donors throughout each year. Stewardship activities specific to endowment donors should be included in your comprehensive fundraising and stewardship plan.

    • For a Deeper Dive:
Tookit Version 1, December 2023