What Is an Endowment?
Clearly, achieving a $100 million endowment is a huge win for our community. But what exactly is an endowment?
An endowment, quite simply, is philanthropic investment set aside to earn revenue to fund future charitable activities. In the case of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, our supporters invest money in our endowment fund, which is then managedUnited Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas. The foundation’s investment committee stewards the endowment funds, much like an individual retirement account, working to get the best possible return each year.
It’s common to think that endowments equal cash assets, when in fact United Way can only access the funds generated by the performance of the assets. An endowment is set up to steward funds in perpetuity, so each year we can only access the money we earn from our investments.
Setting Our Big Goal
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has been an important part of the North Texas community for nearly 100 years. Although new challenges emerge each year, we remain consistently committed to our North Star– improving access to education, income and health for every North Texan.
Of course, as the last few years have demonstrated, success, is dependent upon leadership’s ability to focus on building the capacity of the organization to rapidly adapt, live its purpose, and grow.
Our leadership understands that regardless of what the future holds, it is vital that United Way secures the funding to address the unexpected and drive measurable impact in our region for generations to come.
As Sampson recalls, the idea for the endowment campaign was born out of a desire to secure the organization’s future.
“The motivation was to build a permanent source of funding that would enable us to drive measurable impact in our community in perpetuity,” she said. “The endowment provides funding stability during times of economic uncertainty and volatility. It also allows us to make commitments far into the future, knowing that resources to meet those commitments will continue to be available.
In 2014, United Way and our Foundation leadership launched the Unite Forever campaign—the first endowment campaign in United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ history—with a goal of raising $100 million in 10 years. In the year of our 90th anniversary, we officially kicked off the campaign, led by co-chairs Ed Galante, a long tenuered Exxon Mobil executive; Roger Staubach, the legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback; and the late Ruth Sharp Altshuler, an iconic and beloved philanthropist.
Galante explained why he stepped up to help lead the campaign: “I have long been a strong believer in United Way’s business model of harnessing the collective capacity of the community to give and then depending upon a capable staff and cadre of dedicated community volunteers to put those contributions to good use. The Unite Forever campaign was intended to ensure that this good work continues in perpetuity. For me it was a no-brainer to be involved.”
Galante, Staubach and Altshuler, along with United Way Foundation members and some of our most loyal supporters, made significant, pace-setting investments that inspired more than 2,000 others to join them during these last seven years. Early giving to the campaign exceeded $20 million and established incredible momentum.
Following the passing of Ruth Altshuler, Mary Templeton answered the call to serve as co-chair along with Galante in the final closing years of the campaign. The two co-chairs, along with United Way Foundation Board Chair, Terri West, re-energized the volunteer leadership of Unite Forever vice chairs in 2020 with a goal to close the Unite Forever campaign by May 2022.
Unprecedented Support from the Live United Movement
Thanks to an incredible degree of support from change-seekers across North Texas, we achieved and even slightly exceeded the $100 million goal just in time for our 2022 United Way Awards event, held May 12. As Sampson explains, not only is it remarkable to meet the $100 million goal, but it’s almost unbelievable to have reached it three years ahead of schedule.
“When we started this process, meeting a $100 million fundraising goal for an endowment seemed nearly impossible,” she said. “It was counter to our historical annual fundraising activities to support grants for community impact. But we made the impossible a reality—so much so that we finished the campaign three years early, and we exceeded the goal.”
Galante, who helped advance the Unite Forever campaign since its inception, says he is proud of the results of more than seven years of hard work—and what it means for North Texas.
“Surpassing the goal three years ahead of schedule demonstrates that the premise of our endowment campaign resonated with donors,” he said. “It shows how our community feels about the good work that United Way does and how people want to see that good work continue. The success of the campaign is also a testament to the hard work of our staff and campaign cabinet that helped to make it all happen.”
To Sampson, surpassing the campaign goal in just seven years means one thing: The Live United movement is energized, engaged and aligned on the best way forward for creating opportunity for all North Texans.
“People believe in United Way’s mission passionately, and they are willing to invest in our ability to drive measurable community impact forever,” she said. “It’s a record-breaking achievement. It’s breathtaking to realize that our endowment campaign is the second largest in the United Way universe. Only the United Way of King County, in Seattle, will have a larger endowment, and that is thanks to an $85 million kick-start from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Thank You for Living United
This incredible achievement and historic moment is only possible thanks to you: the unstoppable Live United movement, our friends and neighbors who are leading change in North Texas.
Thank you to our Unite Forever leadership, our Board of Directors, and each and every donor who made this campaign a success. Your commitment will support individuals and families across our region in perpetuity, making our community a better place for generations to come.
Interested in joining the movement to improve access to education, income and health? Although our Unite Forever campaign is closed, you still have an opportunity to Live United by making a donation, advocating for policy changeor volunteering with United Way.
This article was published on: Jul 12, 2022