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Creating an Endowment or Scholarship

Endowment funds for the benefit of WVU are held by the WVU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization whose purpose is to receive and manage private contributions for the benefit of the University.

Endowments can be designated by the donor to impact a specific program or area within the University (including West Virginia 4-H, the Mountaineer Athletic Club and Potomac State College), or remain unrestricted to meet the most critical needs of the University. Donors can name a new endowment, and many choose to honor a loved one, recognize a favorite professor or create the endowment in their own name. Gift minimums apply to certain projects.

Donors may use either outright gift or deferred gift vehicles to establish named endowed funds. Outright gifts of cash or stock can be made completing the endowment immediately, or through a pledge over a period of up to five years. Deferred or planned gifts such as bequests, income producing gifts, life insurance and retirement assets can also be used to establish an endowment in the future when the gift is received.

The WVU Foundation staff works with each donor, on an individual basis, to tailor both the type of asset used and in preparing the guidelines for the administration of each endowed fund.

The purpose of an endowment is to provide ongoing support for the current and future activities of WVU and its affiliates. It is, therefore, a perpetual, self-sustaining source of permanent funding for the benefit of WVU. Each year, a portion of the endowment's earnings are paid out, while the principal (or corpus) is retained for future growth. As a result, it is imperative that the endowment grow its investment assets at a real (inflation-adjusted) rate that is sufficient to support an annual spending stream and preserve the purchasing power of the endowment in perpetuity.

The two key ingredients that are required for the endowment to grow its assets are: 1) new gifts and 2) investment performance. In order to achieve the latter, it is necessary to aggressively manage the endowment's investment portfolio so that, over the long-term, it can generate net absolute returns in excess of the required spending payout, thereby creating intergenerational equity.

Endowment Investment Policy

Endowments are invested by pooling the funds together in a manner similar to a mutual fund. The pooled investment fund is managed by professional investment managers and is broadly diversified across asset classes/investment managers with oversight from the WVU Foundation Board Investment Committee. The Foundation charges a 1.35% annual investment/management fee on endowment funds to defray the cost of Foundation operations.

Endowment Spend Policy

Endowment funds are invested so that a gift today will fund a donor’s objective in perpetuity. The objective is to provide an annual payout that keeps pace with inflation while maintaining the purchasing power of the original gift over time.

Annual payout is determined as follows: 

  1. New endowments received during the fiscal year will be included in the fiscal year spend calculation and made available for use by the University the following July 1. This will give new endowments an opportunity for earnings growth while invested in the endowment pool during the first year. Donors may also provide cash spend gifts which would be made available for immediate use by the University.
  2. Established endowments receive the same payout as the prior year plus inflation (but not less than 3.00% or more than the 4.00% of the current market value).
  3. In order to preserve and grow principal, funds with a market value (MV) slightly above/below original gift value will receive a prorated amount of full spend.

    Funds with a market value above original gift value by >10% will receive full spend payout or 4%; all other funds will receive a reduced payout as follows:
  • Funds with a market value above original gift value by 5-10% will receive 93.75% of full spend or 3.75%.
  • Funds with a market value above original gift value by 0-5% will receive 87.5% of full spend or 3.50%.
  • Funds with a market value below original gift value by 0-5% will receive 75% of full spend or 3.00%.
  • Funds with a market value below original gift value by 5-10% will receive 62.5% of full spend or 2.50%.
  • Funds with a market value below original gift value by >10% are not eligible for a spend payout.
  • Endowments funded with pledge payments will be invested and upon reaching the minimum endowment amount become eligible for Spend payout the following year.
  • Scholarship Endowments

    Establishing a named endowed scholarship is an ideal opportunity to permanently link a donor's name, or the name of someone the donor wishes to honor, with the traditions and future of WVU.  Just as the name attached to an endowed scholarship will be held in perpetuity at the University, so also will a service be rendered to future students, and through them, to West Virginia and the nation. 

    More information on scholarship endowments

    WVU Foundation Endowment Minimums and Pledge Guidelines

    Naming Opportunity Minimum
    Demand Fund $10,000
    General Endowment $50,000
    Student Travel/Awards $50,000
    Scholarships Foundation Scholar - $1,000,000
      Bucklew Scholar - $500,000
      College Award - $100,000
      FAD Award-Department Level - $50,000
      FAD Award-Unit Level - $25,000
    Graduate Scholarship $100,000
    Graduate Fellowship $250,000
    Visiting Lecturer/Artist/Speaker $100,000
    Faculty Support $100,000
    Professorship $1,000,000
    Chair $2,000,000
    Distinguished or Department Chair $4,000,000
    Deanship $5,000,000
    Department/Program Opportunities begin at $5,000,000
    Building Contingent on Construction Cost and BOG Policies
    College Contingent on BOG Policies

    • A Letter Of Commitment will be used for pledges of $50,000+ 
    • Donors who wish to make a pledge under $25,000 may do so through reoccurring credit/debit card, ACH through their financial institution or annual fund pledge form    
    • Pledge Status Reports will be mailed in May and November of each year for pledges >/= $50,000.
    • Electronic reminders will be emailed in November of each year for pledges < $50,000.   

    Note: Individual college's and school's endowment minimums may differ due to special financial consideration. Donors should consult the individual college's or school's website for a listing of its endowment minimums.

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