Fund eyes endowment

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In the face of the stumbling economy, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is reviewing the investment of its endowment.

The foundation, which has seen the value of its endowment decline to $60 million from $65.5 million a year ago, has hired Cincinnati-based Fund Evaluation Group as its new investment consultants to help map its investment strategy, says Patrick Weiner, the foundation’s vice president for donor services and development.

Fund Evaluation Group, which replaces Boston-based Cambridge Associates as the foundation’s adviser, will meet with the foundation’s investment committee Nov. 12.

The investment adviser helps the investment committee – chaired by John Englar, senior vice president, corporate development and law, at Burlington Industries – develop a strategy for allocating endowment assets, select investment managers and track their performance.

The foundation puts roughly 60 percent of its endowment into equities and 40 percent into fixed-income investments, mixing large-cap and small-cap funds, growth and value funds, and domestic and international funds.

The foundation works with five investment managers – Los Angeles-based Trust Company of the West; Iridian Asset Management in Westport, Conn.; New York-based Lazard Asset Management; PIMCO Funds in Stamford, Conn.; and The Vanguard Group in Valley Forge, Pa.

“We’ve hired Fund Evaluation Group to help us review the selections that have been made and offer selections on how we might reallocate, given the current market,” says Weiner.

The new investment consultants represent more than 40 community foundations and will make presentations to the foundation and its donors, says Marie Schettino, the foundation’s vice president, finance and administration.

The new consultants, for example, met Nov. 13 with the board of the new United Way foundation that will be housed at the community foundation to examine strategies for investing funds in the new foundation.

Schettino says the foundation pools all its funds – both endowment funds and donor-advised funds – for investment purposes.

Endowments, which donors create as a perpetual source of philanthropy for the community, typically make annual payouts to charities equal to 5 percent of their average fund balance for the five previous quarters.

Donor-advised funds, which can last for generations, typically are set up to meet donors’ charitable goals, which can change over time. The funds may provide current tax benefits to donors, who can recommend that the foundation make gifts from the funds to specific charities.

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