Frequently Asked Questions


Endowments are long-term assets of the foundation, created either by donor gifts or by actions of the board of directors. Their purpose is to generate annual support for scholarships, academic programs, faculty development or the general use of Towson University. The gift is invested, and a portion of the return is used each year to support the scholarship, college or program designated by the donor.

Endowments may be established for a wide variety of purposes, including undergraduate scholarships, fellowships, faculty chairs, program support and research. Gifts of endowment may be named for the donor or someone the donor wishes to honor or memorialize

For an individual fund to be eligible for spendable income, an amount equal to the minimum endowment level must be invested for at least six months as of the June 30 spendable income calculation date.

UPMIFA stands for the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act. It was adopted as a law in the State of Maryland on April 14, 2009.

UPMIFA changes the way that endowment spending decisions are made. It eliminates the historic dollar value concept, whereby spending was not permitted if the market value fell below the amount of the original gift (i.e. the fund was “underwater”).

Under UPMIFA, the foundation may apply a spending calculation to an endowment even when it is underwater, resulting in a prudent expenditure. According to foundation policy, if the endowment is underwater and the founding donor of the fund [i.e., the individual(s) who signed the gift document] is living, the foundation may seek the donor’s permission to spend the calculated amount in a given fiscal year. If the founding donor is deceased, the foundation board of directors will make the decision with careful consideration and in compliance with the prudence standards of the law.

Each fall, a spending rate is determined by the spending committee of the TU Foundation board of directors according to approved policy and taking into account the prudent standards introduced with UPMIFA.

The rate is then applied to the 20-quarter rolling average market value of each fund (as of June 30), yielding the amount available for spendable income. Any excess of the total return over the spendable income allowance is retained in the endowment and thus helps keep the fund growing over time.

Spendable income becomes available for use each July 1 – June 30. Each endowment is assigned to a program director, who has primary responsibility for spending the available funds according to the donor’s wishes as articulated in the gift instrument or memorandum of understanding.

The foundation charges each individual endowment a fee based on the March 31 market value, which serves to recover the cost of administering and carrying out the terms of the endowment. For endowments valued under $2.5 million, current policy mandates the fee charged shall not exceed two percent. (NOTE: for the past 5 years, fees actually charged have been less than 1%.) The percentage charged is reviewed annually by the spending committee to ensure that the fee is appropriate. The foundation’s goal is to maximize spending for the donor-specified purposes and minimize fees.

The foundation has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that endowment gifts are prudently invested today and in the future. In accepting an endowment gift, the foundation agrees to comply with donor restrictions covering the use of spendable income.

The endowment portfolio is invested under the direction of the Investment Committee of the Towson University Foundation Board of Directors. The committee’s goal is to provide a predictable stream of funding while seeking to preserve the purchasing power of the endowment assets.

The investment strategy for the endowment portfolio is to rely on total return, in which investment returns are achieved through capital appreciation (realized and unrealized) and current yield (interest and dividends). The TU Foundation targets a diversified asset allocation that places a greater emphasis on equity-based investments to achieve its long-term return objectives within prudent risk constraints, all while controlling administrative and management costs.

The TU Foundation has a stated policy for asset allocation, reviewed periodically, that sets parameters for what can be invested in various asset classes.

Endowment Investment Performance is measured against appropriate indices (e.g., S&P 500, Barclays, Aggregate, Russell 1000 Value, etc.) to ensure that investments are performing as expected.

To make a gift to the TU Foundation contact:

John J. Mease, Jr., Vice President & CFO
Phone: 410-704-3278

Glossary of Terms

AWARDS/SCHOLARSHIPS expenses are the amount of the spendable income that was disbursed for student scholarships and awards as stipulated in the gift agreement document.

FISCAL YEAR is the 12-month period July 1 through June 30.

GIFT REVENUE reflects the sum of all gifts received into the endowment during the fiscal year. There may exist timing differences between when charitable contributions are recorded by the TU Foundation and when they are actually credited to the specific endowed fund. This line may also reflect the transfer between funds of previously recorded gifts.

INVESTMENT REVENUE represents the net interest and dividends as well as realized and unrealized gains / losses earned on funds invested in the endowment portfolio during the fiscal year.

MARKET VALUE represents the actual worth of the endowed fund invested in the portfolio as of the specified date.

OTHER EXPENSES reflect the minimal endowment cost-recovery fees charged to the endowment (see the FAQ for more detail), as well as any bank fees, credit card transaction and wire transfer fees.

OTHER REVENUE includes additions to the endowment from other extraordinary sources (i.e., matching funds from fund raising challenges, transfer from other funds, etc.).

PROGRAM EXPENSES reflect the amount of the spendable income that was disbursed for program costs, including equipment, supplies, salaries, fellowships, travel, or other costs as stipulated in the gift agreement document.

SPENDABLE INCOME is the portion of the investment return that may be spent on scholarships, projects, etc., as calculated in accordance with the TU Foundation’s Spending Policy and the purpose in the original gift agreement document. 

TOTAL GIFTS RECEIVED TO DATE reflect all gift dollars received to the endowment since its establishment.