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What is the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana?

The Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization in Montana, incorporated in 1999 to provide long-term financial support for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, including its many Catholic parishes, schools and ministries. This is accomplished through the Foundation’s promotion of and building of permanent endowment funds, through gifts from private donors. The Foundation also administers permanent endowments for Catholic organizations located within our diocese, with the approval of the Bishop.

What does the Foundation do?

Like you, we love Christ and want to be of service to Him and His Kingdom! The Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana brings together people that share a common passion – strengthening the Catholic Church. Our donors love God, their faith and their local church communities and want to make a positive impact in our diocese. Our donors give through a range of charitable giving options  that help fulfill their charitable and financial goals.

The Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana is all about helping build a strong today and an even stronger future for the parishes and ministries in our diocese that make up our family of believers and help bring others to Christ. Through the creation and power of permanent endowments, the Foundation provides a means for people to support the Catholic Church and achieve their own, personal philanthropic goals. Endowments generate income to help sustain the long-term strength and viability of the Catholic Church in our diocese. Our mission is to ensure that the Catholic Church in our diocese does not just exist in the status quo, but flourish!

Our work would not be possible without the careful stewardship and administration of the more than 100 charitable endowments and planned gifts entrusted to us. A dedicated board of directors, as well as an experienced and professional staff provide personal service and local expertise to deliver the greatest impact for your charitable giving to benefit the Catholic Church in our diocese. 

What is an endowment?

An endowment is a forever fund. When you advise a charitable organization that you want to “permanently endow” your gift, you are simply placing a permanent restriction on your gift. For example, a gift placed in the offertory collection at Sunday Mass can be used by the parish for whatever is the greatest need at that moment. Your gift is received; your gift can be immediately spent. But a gift you permanently endow with the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana is never spent.  It is invested with other endowed donations for the “greatest needs” or for specific Catholic parishes, schools, organizations or ministries. A portion of a permanent endowment’s balance (principal and earnings) is distributed each year, creating a constant, reliable income stream that will solely be used to benefit the purpose for which it was given – in perpetuity. In this way, your gift will not only help the Church today, but forever!

Your gift can be used to create a new endowment or it can be added to an existing endowment. Click here to see a current list of permanent endowment funds at the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana that are currently helping to ensure the long-term viability and future of the Catholic Church in our diocese.  

Why would an individual want to create or support an endowment?

For so many reasons! Here are a few:

  • Many people love knowing that their gift, given today, will not only impact the Church today, but help it forever! They especially appreciate the leverage of giving this way and are happy with the impact their one gift can make on the entire future of the Church in our diocese.
  • Giving to endowment perpetuates your values, providing an excellent way for you to share what is important to you with your family and others.
  • Endowments can provide a long-lasting tribute or legacy for yourself, your family or loved one. Click here to learn about named endowments.
  • You may add to endowments over and over again, as may others, knowing that the larger they grow, the greater the stability of a constant income stream for the endowment beneficiary.
  • Montanans who give to permanent endowments may qualify for a hefty 40% tax credit, called the Montana Endowment Tax Credit. Quite an incentive!
  • By creating or contributing to an endowment, you are providing stability to the Church. A Catholic entity such as a parish or school can tell the community that the parish or school is providing for the future and intends to continue serving the community for many years to come.

Who manages the Foundation?

The Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors composed of clergy and lay people from throughout our diocese who bring special skills and passion for the Catholic faith to the board.  The Foundation is staffed by a full-time President and a part-time Special Projects Assistant.

Board of Directors Our Staff

What are the investment goals for the Foundation?

The Foundation’s endowment portfolio is managed in a manner that complies with the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) and that will:

  • Preserve and maintain the real purchasing power of the principal in the portfolio
  • Produce a total return, which, when compared to the current marketplace, would be better than average performance for fund managers with similar investment objectives
  • Specify investment objectives for each program served

Can funds be withdrawn from a permanent endowment?

Because of their permanent nature, funds may not be withdrawn from endowments with the Foundation. Distributions are provided annually to the fund beneficiary to be used only for the purpose for which the endowment was established by the donor.

How much money is necessary to start an endowment fund?

An initial gift of any amount can establish an endowment, however distributions to the fund beneficiary do not begin until the value reaches $10,000 and the endowment has been in existence for a full calendar year.  Gifts of any amount are always gratefully accepted to an endowment! Gifts of $1,000 or more may be given through a planned gift that may qualify the donor for the 40% Montana Endowment Tax Credit.

Does the Foundation charge a fee for managing endowments?

A 1.75% annual administrative fee is assessed on all endowments. This fee is regularly reviewed by the Foundation Board. As the total value of the Foundation’s endowments grow, it is planned that this fee will be decreased over time.

What is the Foundation’s distribution policy?

The Finance Committee of the Foundation Board makes an annual recommendation to the Board for a distribution payout to fund beneficiaries, within established Board guidelines. The suggested rate is set annually after giving due consideration to the following factors:

  • Fund duration
  • Fund purpose
  • General economic conditions
  • Projected and actual rates of inflation or deflation
  • Actual and projected total return
  • Approval of the annual audit
  • Other resources and factors, as may apply
  • Foundation investment policy

The distribution rate is calculated monthly as a percentage of the fair market value using a three-year rolling average of the unit value. A 4.5% cap and a 3% floor have been put in place to help moderate spending during times of volatility.  The cap rate and the floor rate can be changed by the Board, but the Board shall act to provide stability and long-term growth of the Foundation and all assets entrusted thereto. Undistributed earnings are invested back into each particular endowment for continued growth and future earnings distributions.

Why does the Foundation cap the income distribution to 4.5%?

Limiting the distribution to 4.5% helps meet the investment objective of providing growth in principal combined with a sufficient return on investment to generate a continual income over time.  A 4.5% cap and a 3% floor have been put in place to help moderate spending during times of volatility.  The cap rate and the floor rate can be changed by the Board, but the Board shall act to provide stability and long-term growth of the Foundation and all assets entrusted thereto.  The 4.5% limit allows a portion of the income to be reinvested in the principal to build the endowment.

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