Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Foundation for the Diocese of Helena, Inc.?
The Foundation for the Diocese of Helena, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 1978. The Foundation’s mission is to serve and strengthen the people, parishes, ministries and apostolic mission of the Diocese of Helena. The Foundation shall accomplish its mission by, but not limited to, the following:
a) Building and managing permanent endowments that provide an ongoing source of income to parishes and the Dioceses of Helena, with careful management, the resources entrusted to the Foundation continue to grow and that growth translates to improved financial sustainability to our Catholic ministries.
b) Providing financial support through the Grant Program, the Foundation disburses it unrestricted financial resources to assist parish and Diocesan ministries.
c) Disbursing fund in accordance with the wishes of donors and in accordance with the goals of the Foundation and applicable laws.
d) Assisting donors and working with their professional advisors in developing both current and planned lifetime charitable giving strategies in order to minimize income and estate taxes and maximize a financial legacy in perpetuity for both their heirs and the Church in the Diocese of Helena
e) Creating long-term funding solutions for programs and ministries for the Diocese of Helena.
Who governs the Foundation?
A Board of Trustees governs all operations of the Foundation. The 17-member Board is made up of lay and religious leaders who have demonstrated their concern and caring for the church, who are widely respected and geographically representative of our diocese, and who are known to have the skills necessary to oversee an organization that receives, invests and distributes funds on behalf of the programs and services of the Diocese of Helena. The Bishop and Vicar General of the Diocese of Helena both serve on the Foundation board in an ex-officio capacity.
Who handles the Foundation’s investments?
The Board engages professional money managers with proven track records of successful investing to help manage the endowed funds of the Foundation. Currently, the Foundation works with Wells Fargo Wealth Management and The Investment Group, both in Helena. The Finance Committee closely monitors investment activity to insure the best possible service and results that benefit our Diocese.
Does the Foundation have investment policies?
Yes. The Board has adopted comprehensive and theologically sensitive policies and guidelines to regulate its investments. Summaries of these policies are made available upon request.
Why should I consider an endowment over an outright gift?
Many people believe that endowments are only for very wealthy people and big institutions like universities. In fact, an endowment is for anyone who wishes their favorite charities to benefit forever. With an endowment, the gift stays permanently invested, while an annual distribution or grant from its earnings is made to support the charities designated forever.
Can I pick who I want to benefit from my gift?
Yes. The distributions of funds are always exclusively and only as directed by the donors, as long as falls within the mission of the Foundation.
How are endowments established within the Foundation?
Donors are encouraged to add to the one of the primary endowment funds of the Foundation. However, a donor, parish, school or other diocesan organization that is considering the creation of an endowment other than those listed should:
– Clearly establish and state the purpose which the endowment will serve.
– Declare who will be the recipient(s) of income from the endowment.
– Decide what initial resources will be contributed to establish the endowment.
– Declare a contingency or alternate beneficiary should the original purpose for which the endowment was established cease to exist.
– Declare any restrictions to be placed on utilization of income gained from investments of the endowment.
What is the minimum initial contribution for an endowment?
There is no minimum contribution required to establish an endowment. However, there will be no distribution of earnings gained by a particular endowment fund until the basis of that fund exceeds $5,000. Until the fund reaches $5,000, all earnings are invested into the principal of the fund. The Board reserves the right to set a higher minimum basis for distribution as is beneficial to the operations of the Foundation.
What if the entity or purpose for which an endowment was established ceases to exist?
If a contingency or alternative purpose is declared by the donor at time of funding the endowment, the future distributions from the endowment will be made in keeping with that purpose. If no alternate purpose is declared, the fund will be distributed to a successor decided by the Board of Trustees on the basis of use that most closely follows the donor’s original intent.
How permanent is an endowment?
All resources placed into an endowment are, in effect, no longer available for use by the establishing donor, parish or organization. Only the earnings from these resources will be distributed in keeping with the declared purpose. When a particular fund is set up or contributed to, the establishing donor, parish or organization and all of its constituents must fully understand and appreciate the benefits of this feature of Endowment.