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Endowment Funds: Plant seeds and watch them blossom

June 2023

When Financial Consultant Josh Langholz was just getting started nearly 30 years ago, his father made a comment, which stuck with him to this day.

“My dad was a Lutheran pastor, and he told me when someone passed away who had named the church as part of their legacy, the money always seemed to come when the church needed it most,” Josh says. “I think about that during conversations about charitable planning with my clients.”

Together with Thrivent Charitable, Josh has helped several congregations establish endowment funds, including the church his family attends. “Thrivent Charitable has all the tools to make sure people can give the gifts they want,” he says.

An endowment fund is an investment tool designed to provide long-term support to a church or nonprofit organization’s mission. Beyond the investment return, Thrivent Charitable offers resources to organizations to help grow the fund through a full range of giving options, which may not be available at a smaller nonprofit or local church.

“How churches use the funds in their endowment is up to them to decide. For some it can help patch holes in their annual budget and for others it’s used mainly for mission trips and community outreach,” Josh says. As an example, one congregation he worked with designates 5% of their endowment fund each year for their general fund.

Josh introduces endowment funds when talking with church leaders about how they can help their members share generosity. "I will ask them to introduce me to their pastor. Every church is different, but pastors are willing to hear about options that will benefit the church,” he says.

At his own congregation, Josh has many opportunities to meet prospects who hear his report on the endowment fund at annual meetings. He also has offered charitable giving workshops to a group of retirees. They are an ideal age to learn about qualified charitable distributions and receptive to including the church in their long-term giving plans. “QCDs are a sweet spot when giving to a church’s endowment,” he says.

The minimum to establish an endowment fund with Thrivent Charitable is $25,000. Once it is established, individuals can make gifts to it using cash, publicly traded securities, real estate, closely held stock, life insurance and retirement assets. Gifts can also be made through bequests, beneficiary designations. Donors who want to receive income can make their gifts with charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts.

Josh says, “What I’m doing is planting seeds. I help get their endowment fund started and then watch it blossom over time.”

Contact our team of gift planners to discuss unique solutions for your clients. Email us or call 800-365-4172 to get started.