Legacy of Gratitude Program:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who should make a Legacy Gift?
Any person, young or old, who would like to create a Legacy of Gratitude in thanksgiving for the many blessings God has bestowed. A gift can be structured for nearly any circumstance. The best gift is one that fits your particular situation and desires, and that reflects your values.
2. Isn’t the Legacy of Gratitude program only for large gifts or wealthy people?
No. A gift of any size is significant. All gifts are invested in the endowment to grow in perpetuity. Any gift can make a large impact over time, because it will grow.
3. How will my gift be used?
It will be invested in the endowment, which is like Westminster’s savings account. Since the principal is not spent, the income from your gift will continue to support Westminster in perpetuity. Gifts are used to help Westminster fulfill its mission, and for capital improvements to help maintain our historic building. Although Westminster prefers unrestricted gifts so that they may be deployed as needed, a donor may elect to direct a gift to a specific program or initiative if desired (note: this needs to be in writing at the time of the gift).
4. Who manages the endowment and when was it established?
The Board of Trustees manages the Endowment. It was established in 1914 with a $5,000 gift from Charles Thompson.
5. What are the goals of the Endowment Fund?
To spend income, preserve principal, and protect against inflation. Over time, the endowment’s return has been about 7-8%. It provides indispensable support to Westminster’s annual and long-term budgets. The annual operating budget receives about 16% of its support from endowment income, and the capital budget, for ongoing building maintenance, receives 100% of its support from the endowment.
6. What happens to my Legacy Gift when Westminster receives it?
The Board of Trustees will direct the gift to a Designated Fund. It is Westminster’s history and tradition that these gifts go to the Capital Fund. An unrestricted gift is preferred because it provides the most flexibility for future needs.
7. Can I direct where my gift is invested?
As mentioned above, Westminster prefers an unrestricted gift because of its flexibility. However, a donor may direct a gift to a Fund, such as to an existing Designated Endowment Fund (Capital, Operating, or Program Fund), or a new Designated Endowment Fund (this generally requires a gift of at least $50,000).
8. What are the programs that comprise the Endowed Program Funds?
Mission, Music, Westminster Counseling Center, Town Hall Forum, Meisel Scholarship, Women’s Ministries, and Camp Ajawah – all receive support from the Endowment.
9. May I make a gift in memory of someone?
You may make a Legacy Gift in memory of a loved one; however, in order to establish a fund in the name of that person, the amount would need to meet the criteria of a new Designated Endowment Fund as described above.
10. How will I be recognized for my Legacy Gift?
Current plans are to hold an annual event for those who have made provisions for a Legacy Gift, in order to thank them.
11. I prefer to keep my gift and / or plans confidential – can I do this?
Yes. Westminster respects a donor’s desire for confidentiality and anonymity. Gift amounts are never made public. And, if you indicate so in writing, Westminster will not include your name on any roster of Legacy Givers.
12. Who can help me decide how to make a Legacy Gift?
Contact Mary Hess, Director of Legacy Giving, as a first step. She can work with you to discuss your objectives, and put you in touch with additional resource people as needed, such as the Presbyterian Foundation or local experts. You should always consult with your financial and / or attorney for specific legal or financial advice for your particular circumstances. The role of Westminster is not to provide professional advice, but rather to help you identify possible ways to make a gift that reflect your values. You may also contact a member of the Legacy Committee (see brochure for names).
13. How does Westminster work with the Presbyterian Foundation?
Westminster draws on the expertise of the Presbyterian Foundation to plan, structure, and manage life income gifts, in recognition of our shared goals in the Presbyterian tradition. For example, the Presbyterian Foundation administers annuities on behalf of some of our church members.
14. Can I set up an annuity or another vehicle with an organization other than the Presbyterian Foundation?
Yes. Any organization or Foundation that offers these services may be used.
15. I’m not sure I will have enough money to last my lifetime. Can I still make a Legacy Gift?
Perhaps the easiest way to make a gift is to create a bequest in a will that simply designates some percentage, or dollar amount, of the remaining estate to Westminster. In addition, certain annuity vehicles can provide income during a donor’s lifetime, which can be a significant help to the donor’s current circumstances. Contact Mary Hess or visit the Westminster website for bequest language to share with your attorney, or to explore an annuity.
16. If I make a legacy gift, should I still make an annual contribution?
Yes. Generally speaking, a Legacy Gift is considered an “ultimate gift,” i.e. over and above regular annual pledging.
17. What about Memorial Gifts?
Memorial Gifts are separate from the endowment, and are accounted for separately. They are not considered Legacy Gifts.
18. Is Westminster’s endowment managed according to a socially responsible investment policy?
Yes, Westminster subscribes to the guidelines of the “Committee of Social Responsibility through Investment” established by the General Assembly.
19. Comment on the ethics of an endowment - should we really be building it or should we be spending the principal for current needs?
Prudent investment policy and commitment to previous donors dictates that Westminster maintain an endowment as a “savings account” in order to guard against unforeseen circumstances (economic downturn, accidents or natural disaster, etc.). Westminster’s philosophy is that current members should support current needs; therefore the annual operating budget is supported mainly by pledge income. In general, Westminster has endeavored to keep the operating budget’s support from the endowment to about 1/6th of the total.