More and more nonprofits are looking to endowments as a means to diversify their sources of funding. Endowments have long been a favorite funding tool for institutions of higher learning. Whether a nonprofit is new to endowment management or has been managing endowments for decades, a recent survey commissioned by AccuFund and conducted by Nonprofit-PRO shows some interesting statistics.
Over a third of the recipients are handling endowment accounting with Excel and Quickbooks. Another 25% must find a way to manage endowment accounting on the accounting system used by their organization for general accounting. A mere 9.5% of the organizations surveyed have a solution specific to endowment management.
It’s remarkable that managing and tracking such an important aspect of an organization’s funding strategy is done without the benefit of a specialized software solution. Beyond being inefficient, it doesn’t put the organization in a position to best serve their constituents.
Donors want more transparency. The departments depending on the funds generated by the endowments don’t have easy access to and visibility of available funds. Evidence of this is the survey’s findings on the frequency of periodic fund statement reports provided to donors. Less than 50% of the respondents provide reporting on an annual basis. Only 23% are providing reporting more than once a year, and a startling 17% said they never provide periodic fund statement reports to donors.
With competition for donors becoming more acute with each passing year, it’s time that organizations invest in the technology that allows them to provide the information reporting that could convince a donor to support the endowment. I think the door should be closed on the “we’ll just manage as best we can with what we have” mindset. Managing by spreadsheet is not the optimal way to manage multi-million dollar endowments, let along attract more gifts.
More of the survey’s findings can be found here.