Since the 25 percent drop that Emporia State’s Foundation suffered in its endowment last spring, the fund has seen an increase of 8.7 percent as of Feb. 28.
“We’re seeing improvement just like the economy,” said Judith Heasley, director of the ESU Foundation. “We’re slowly recovering along with everybody else.”
The endowment hit an ultimate low of less than $44 million less than a year ago but finished out Fiscal Year 2009 at $49 million. The endowment currently rests at $53.7 million which is closer to its total from the beginning of FY2008, July 1, 2008, of $57.5 million.
“It has a direct correlation with the economy,” said Trisha Ott, chief financial officer for the ESU Foundation. “As you see the Dow going up, our investments will also go up. We have recovered some and I do anticipate that it will gradually keep going up.”
As of Dec. 31, 2009, 19 percent of the funds that are used to give scholarships are underwater, which is up from 36 percent on Dec. 31, 2008.
“The good news is, it’s only 19 under,” Heasley said, “but it’s better than 36 under. That shows that we are slowly rising. This is close to being as bad as it was in 1929. To recover in 12 months is (not going to happen).”
Funds that are underwater cannot pay out scholarships unless the original donor can give an additional gift to pay the scholarship amount.
“When a fund is underwater, our options are to not make an award or to ask our donors, who are only in a position to make an outright gift, if they would consider making a donation equal to what their scholarship normally is,” Heasley said in a previous interview. “If a scholarship normally is a $500 scholarship and the fund is underwater so it’s not going to pay out, (we would ask that donor) would they be willing to contribute $500 to us so that it could be allocated directly to financial aid.”
The exact amount that will be available for student scholarships is still to be determined.
“That number is changing as we are (giving) donors calls and asking if they are able to give an outright gift for those that are underwater,” Ott said. “We’re still trying to gather unrestricted scholarship funds. We’ll have a better idea on May 1.”
Donor contributions are an important part of the scholarship monies that students will receive.
“Last year we came very close to what our average allocation was to the institution” Heasley said, “because of the generosity of the donors. We are shooting for the same type of result.”
Ott said that money is only being solicited from donors whose funds are currently underwater.
Heasley said that while many of the improvements can be attributed to the stock market, donor gifts have also played a role.
“There is a decline in giving this year,” Heasley said. “People are being more cautious with their dollars and they’re not giving as much. They may still be giving but the amount of the donations are lower. They still love us. They still want to give to us but they don’t have the disposable income to be able to make that gift on the level that they used to.”
The good news of a basketball championship, Heasley said, can bring additional donors.
“It creates an interest in ESU,” she said. “Our alumni office was getting emails from alums because (the alumnus) are so excited. Any type of interest, any good news out of ESU helps us fundraise.”