Inside a Community Funder’s Investment Strategy and Charity Endowment Program

When we’ve covered the work of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in the past, we’ve largely focused on its health funding to support prevention, direct services, children, and other vulnerable populations. But today we are taking a closer look at this community funder’s investment strategy, which has enabled it to develop the largest charitable endowment program of its kind in the nation.

Earlier this fall, the foundation published a blog post titled, "Growing Philanthropy Through Investment Performance,"which described how the community funder has worked with donors to create permanent endowments to serve the local community since 1969. The way that the funder has invested its endowment has helped its grow and expand like never before.

According to that blog post:

Since 2006, the Community Foundation has received $297 million in gifts and has granted more than $234 million back to the community. In the same time period, the market value of our assets increased from $485 million in 2006 to $850 million in 2016. More than 76 percent of this growth, or $302 million, was a result of investment performance.

Now that’s what we call smart investing. 

But something else interesting about OCCF’s strategy is its charitable organization endowment program. With over 330 nonprofits participating, it’s the largest program of its type in the U.S. Services provided by OCCF to nonprofits through the program include fund management, fund administration, development and gift facilitation, planned giving, online giving, training, and CE opportunities. Any public charity that serves Oklahoma communities can apply to participate. And if approved, charities can start an endowment with $40,000 or more of their own money or from their donors.

The foundation’s president, Nancy Anthony, explained the endowment funds like this:

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation administers permanent endowment funds for the benefit of hundreds of charitable and educational organizations through the Charitable Organization Endowment Program. Our extensive program impacts all interest areas for charities in our community and is instrumental to their stability, especially during uncertain economic times. We also provide development, communications, training, planned giving services, and online resources, while working with staff and board members of the organizations to help strengthen and increase their endowment funds.

So just recently, OCCF announced that it would be distributing over $8 million to around 360 charitable organizations in central Oklahoma through its charitable organization endowment program. At the end of June, the market value of the funds in this program topped $167 million.

The latest round of grants is going to an incredibly wide range of causes, including education, health, community development, senior adult services, the environment, animal welfare, history and preservation, neighborhood associations, religious organizations, social services, arts and culture, and youth-serving organizations. One particularly large grant of $2,483,514 is going to the Science Museum of Oklahoma, while other grantees were the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Heritage Hall School, Deer Creek Public Schools Foundation, and the Oklahoma Historical Society. You can view a full list of new grantees and grant amounts here.

We should add that all of the funds are invested into a general pool, so everyone is impacted by the group’s investment performance. And lately, OCCF’s investments have been spot on. Aside from this endowment program, the community foundation administers a six separate grant programs, and each has its own set of guidelines. You can learn more about those on the grants program page.