What is the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation?
The Northwestern Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that encourages and supports giving for the benefit of Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The Foundation acts as the principal organization through which private gifts are made and administered for the benefit of the University. The sole reason for its existence is to serve the University.
Why is the Foundation separate from Northwestern?
Oklahoma state law mandates the separation of state-supported universities and colleges and their foundations, as is the case with approximately 80 percent of public institutions in states throughout the nation.
The independent, not for profit Foundation can assure donors of confidentiality since it is not a state agency and therefore is not subject to the open records or open meetings laws. This confidentiality extends to files containing the donor's personal correspondence and documents pertaining to the gift and to the Executive Committee meetings where the gift might be discussed.
An independent Foundation is better able to protect donor intent in the use of the gift, free from any possible institutional of governmental pressures.
Its independence from Northwestern is a team effort. The Foundation works closely with the University administration and faculty, particularly the Office of the President, and the Northwestern Alumni Association.
Should all private gifts to Northwestern Oklahoma State University be directed to the Foundation?
Yes. Northwestern Oklahoma State University has designated the Foundation to receive, manage, invest and disburse private gifts to Northwestern. The Foundation is uniquely equipped to fulfill this obligation through an efficient, experienced staff with expertise in financial management and investment. Also, the Foundation has some limited flexibility, made possible by several unrestricted gifts, to respond to the University's unanticipated and unbudgeted needs and opportunities.
How have donors to the Foundation helped Northwestern?
Wherever you look on Northwestern's three campuses -- Alva, Enid and Woodward -- you see evidence of donor generosity to Northwestern through the Foundation. Some of these gifts prominently bear the donors' names: others are less visible but equally important in the lives and careers of the people who have benefited from the gifts. Private support through the Foundation is the extra edge for excellence in University programs -- over and above the basic needs provided to the University by state appropriations, tuition and fees.
The general categories of private support include:
Scholarships and fellowships
Faculty support through salary supplements and awards
Equipment for teaching
Often a private donation serves as seed money for a new program whose success will grow far beyond the original gift.
Who decides how gifts are used?
You do. As donors to the Foundation, you determine where your money goes and the guidelines for its expenditure. The Foundation staff works with you and/or your legal and financial advisors to accomplish what you want. You may designate a particular department or program or you may make an unrestricted gift. This gives the Foundation's trustees, in consultation with University officials, the authority to use your gift where the need is greatest. In either case, it is then the Foundation's job to see that your wishes are followed and to keep you informed on the status of your gift or any fund you establish.
What does the Foundation do with the gift I make to Northwestern?
Contributions are deposited in either an existing fund or a newly created fund as you have determined. The principal of endowed funds is invested with only the income being available for expenditure. The custodial funds are also invested, but the entire value of the fund, principal and earnings, is available for expenditure in accordance with the purpose of the fund.
Custodial funds have an account sponsor, usually a member of the University's administration, faculty or staff. The sponsor requests expenditures from the fund following the guidelines established by the donor for that fund and by Foundation policy for all funds. Upon Foundation approval, the checks are issued.
How much of my gift actually goes to the University?
One hundred percent of the principal of every gift to Northwestern is allocated to the purpose designated by the donor. None of the principal is used to cover operating costs.
How is the Foundation funded?
Operating costs are met primarily through approximately 1.5% of the return on long-term investments, a reasonable charge on the earning of the short-term custodial funds and through a few unrestricted funds.
Who governs the Foundation?
A volunteer Board of Trustees, comprised of 22 men and women elected for three-year staggered terms, governs the Foundation. The committee members are themselves donors to the university who have exhibited over time a dedication to Northwestern and a willingness to give of their time, resources and expertise. The committee members are drawn from many different professional and philanthropic backgrounds and are an invaluable resource to the university and the Foundation in attaining our private funding goals. Committee members are elected by the sitting committee from nominations made by alumni and friends of the university.
Who manages the Foundation's investments?
We employ an investment consultant who employs professional fund managers with demonstrated expertise in value growth funds, large and small funds, and fixed income funds, both domestic and international. The investment consultant monitors and reports to the committee on the performance of the investments. In addition, the committee appoints an investment committee whose job it is to monitor and advise the committee on the performance of the funds.
What is an endowment?
An endowment is a fund in which the invested principal remains intact in perpetuity and only the income may be spent for the purpose designated by the donor.
How is the payout rate on endowed funds determined, and how does it compare to other universities?
The Audit and Finance Committee of the Executive Committee annually reviews the endowment earning distribution process calculated on a 12 quarter rolling average of the market value of the portfolio. The rate for fiscal 2004-2005, for instance, was 6%. The Foundation returns 10% of the interest income to the principal to keep pace with inflation and to maintain a steady growth in money available to the fund sponsors. The Foundation seeks to avoid the extreme highs and lows in income that could damage the beneficiary program's long-term viability.
Endowment gifts may be important, but doesn't Northwestern need current funding too?
Yes, of course. Many gifts to Northwestern are made in anticipation of immediate or short-term payout -- new facility construction, equipment purchase, feasibility studies, conferences and speakers, for instance. But even short term funds may be invested to increase the value of the original gift. There are some donors who make an annual gift, such as to the Presidential Partners program, preferring to have the entire amount expended each year. The Foundation can accommodate those wishes as well.
What kinds of gifts can I make to the Foundation?
The Foundation accepts cash gifts, securities, gifts of property, deferred or planned gifts, life insurance, memorials, and matching gifts. Approximately 9,500 corporations and foundations throughout the country match, most often dollar-for-dollar, the contributions of their employees to educational institutions.
If a donor is unable to make an outright gift at this time, are there other ways to support the Foundation?
Planned gifts are the backbone of a long-range private support program for Northwestern. They can be tailored to meet the financial, income tax or estate planning needs of the individual donor. These giving vehicles include:
Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts
Charitable Remainder Unitrusts
Remainder interest in a personal residence or farm
Bequests through a will or living trust
How does the Foundation fulfill its responsibility to be accountable?
When you establish a fund with the Foundation, you sign a legal contract which ensures that the Foundation will carry out your wishes. Each donor, to either an existing or a new fund, receives a receipt for every donation to that fund. An audit of the Foundation's transactions is conducted annually by an independent accounting firm.
What does the Foundation do to acknowledge and report gifts?
The Northwestern Foundation will:
Send receipts for all gifts
Send personalized letters of appreciation for gifts of $250 or more
Subtract the fair market value of recognition items from receipts, when required by U.S. law
How many people work for the Foundation?
Eight full-time employees work in the Foundation's office at 709 Oklahoma Boulevard on the Northwestern campus. The staff includes the CEO, director of alumni relations, financial manager, relationship manager, communications and marketing manager, database and research manager, development officer, and office manager. All eight of these professionals are completely dedicated to the success of the Foundation, the university and its sponsors.