Generous gifts of endowment from alumni, parents, and friends—and careful stewardship of their investments—are a vital component of Saint Mary's financial stability.

What is the endowment?

The endowment is composed of assets that are invested for the long term to support the College’s educational purposes. As the cornerstone of the College’s financial stability, the endowment provides program-support funding that is not dependent upon enrollment, tuition, or annual giving.

The College’s endowment consists of approximately 300 individual funds established to support scholarships, professorships, programs, and other College priorities. It includes both donor-restricted assets and assets designated by the Board of Trustees.

How does the College determine how much to spend from its endowment each year?

Endowment spending guidelines are adopted by the Board of Trustees as part of its endowment investment policy. Spending for any year is up to 5 percent, plus administrative and management fees, of the average endowment market value from the preceding 12 quarters. Spending amounts are determined at the end of each calendar year prior to the beginning of the fiscal year.

The 12-quarters-averaging formula helps to balance the quarterly volatility that occurs in financial markets and allows for a more predictable amount of support for the College’s annual operating budget. The five percent spending limit, in turn, is a prudent amount that stabilizes the need for ongoing support with perpetual preservation of endowed funds.

How does the College invest its funds?

The College invests endowment funds following an asset-allocation model that distributes investments over eight major asset categories, including U.S. equities; non-U.S. equities in both developed and emerging markets; private equity; core fixed income; high yield-fixed income; cash equivalents; and real assets, including private real estate funds; and publicly traded real estate investment trusts.

Investments within these categories are made with recommendations from the College’s investment consultant, Hirtle Callaghan, and the approval of the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees. College financial staff, Hirtle Callaghan staff, and the Investment Committee monitor the performance of individual managers and make adjustments as necessary.

Is there an optimal size for the College's endowment?

Endowment size goals are often expressed as a multiple of an institution’s budget. The optimal size for Saint Mary’s endowment is three times the size of the current year operating budget of $132 million.

How does the College seek funds to grow its endowment?

The Advancement Office seeks gifts of all kinds and especially encourages endowed gifts for scholarships, professorships, and chairs. Many alumni and friends remember Saint Mary’s College in their wills, estates, and through other planned giving vehicles. Unless otherwise specified, estate gifts are generally deposited into the endowment.

Do tuition and fees cover most of the College's expenses?

Tuition and fees cover approximately 91 percent of the College’s operating expenses. This high percentage of dependency on student tuition and fees makes the College somewhat vulnerable to downturns in enrollment levels.

Tuition and fees pay the ongoing expenses of maintaining the College, whereas gifts help the College to advance.

What are the benefits of giving to the endowment rather than giving to current expenditures?

Both types of gifts are important to the College. The full amount of an annual gift provides support for a particular program or student for a limited period of time, typically one year. An endowment gift, in contrast, provides an ongoing and typically increasing level of support in perpetuity, although the amount available for annual use—at least initially—is much less. For example, a one-time gift of $100,000 will provide 20 $5,000 scholarships in one year. That same gift invested in the endowment will provide one $5,000 scholarship in the year after it is received, but it will be awarded in perpetuity. Over time, the value of the endowed fund will grow as the overall endowment grows.

Endowment funding opportunities:

Please contact the Advancement Office if you are considering one of these options. 

Scholarships: $50,000 Unrestricted | $100,000 Restricted  

Fellowships, Lectureships and Programs: $500,000

Professorships: $1,000,000

Centers: $2,000,000

Chairs: $3,000,000

Do small gifts make a difference?

Every gift to Saint Mary’s College is important. The advantage of an endowment is the power of compounding that typically occurs with endowment investments. Small gifts to the endowment create a snowballing effect over time. Also, many campus departments have very little in the way of discretionary funds to take on new projects, seize new opportunities, or manage unexpected expenses; therefore, all contributions help. We are grateful for gifts of all sizes.

Get in Touch

To learn more about the opportunities and rewards of establishing an endowment at Saint Mary's, please contact Heidi Sornetta Butler, Major Gifts Officer, at 925.631.8666.