In 1991, several of the church members at Roswell United Methodist Church (RUMC) in Roswell had the foresight to establish the RUMC Foundation, Inc. (RUMCF). This separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit helps church members create endowments to support causes close to their hearts. Grants from these endowments touch people at every age and life stage, enable missionary work around the corner and the world, and improve church facilities.
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation (Foundation) has been RUMCF’s institutional investment partner for over 20 years. We sat down with Executive Director Elizabeth Hamilton and incoming 2022 Board Chairman Brook Scardina to learn more about how their 45+ endowments and investment process works.
Q: What is RUMCF’s purpose and mission?
Hamilton: The RUMC Foundation operates to influence the spiritual and moral welfare of its supporters and the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the doctrine and beliefs of The United Methodist Church. In essence, the RUMC Foundation’s mission is to serve God’s work through investments.
Q: Why are endowments important to the church and its outreach programs?
Hamilton: As we move through the generations and time, we don’t know what will come of the way we worship in 10, 20, 50, 100, or 500 years from now. However, through the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that the world has become more virtual. Our ways and costs of serving God’s work evolve and change. Baby boomers and millennials are our largest generations as of now. Typically, major gifts are made by those over the age of 55. As Generation X approaches this age, there may be a financial gap in the timeline due to there not being enough in this population to fill the baby boomers’ shoes. Therefore, establishing endowments today is so important to support the future of missions, church budgets, and more. Endowments stand the test of time.
Q: How does the endowment process at RUMCF work?
Hamilton: Endowments are established through the generosity of a donor’s financial gift. Their gift is then invested, where the earnings are distributed as annual grants. A gift from an individual donor or a group of donors cumulatively needs to meet the $25,000 minimum requirement to initiate the investment. This initial investment amount can be given at once or over time. Gifts can be made as stock, real estate, cash, 401(k) transfers, etc. Often gifts are motivated by the IRS’s required minimum distribution or from the finalization of one’s giving as noted in a will. Sunday school classes have accumulated their giving, and generations within a family have created endowments in honor or memory of a family member. The RUMC Foundation partners with the Foundation, which invests the funds for the greatest sustainable return. Learn more at rumcf.org/endowmentsexplained.
Q: What are the advantages of partnering with GUMF on the management of these funds?
Scardina: I believe the RUMC Foundation and the Foundation share a strategic partnership with mutually aligned faith-based investment objectives. The Foundation provides a high-quality service offering with access to institutional quality investment solutions. The Foundation really serves as an extension of our staff in providing a suite of offerings coupled with financial solutions that enable the RUMC Foundation to advance the mission and body of work while employing a strategic partnership approach.
Q: What is the secret to RUMCF’s success in establishing 45+ different endowments?
Hamilton: It all begins with something important to our donors. One of our founding board members has said to me, “Times change, staff changes, volunteers change, and procedures change … but an endowment agreement stays consistent … as intended.” I also believe it is because our donors trust in their hearts that the RUMC Foundation will memorialize someone’s legacy forever. We have a responsibility to stay true to the donor’s wishes throughout time to ensure what matters most to someone continues to be supported for generations ahead.
Q: How does RUMCF cover its operational expenses?
Hamilton: The RUMC Foundation has in their bylaws that operational funds can come from endowment earnings; however, since our establishment, it has not. Instead, most of the operations budget is collected during the annual Fall Fund Drive. This consists of the Malone Dodson Golf Tournament honoring our beloved former pastor, the Rev. Dr. Malone Dodson, the Par-Tee Night Out, and other fundraising events that celebrate the RUMC Foundation every October. That means that 100% of the earnings identified for distributions go to support the donor’s cause!
Q. Could you please share RUMCF’s financial impact?
Hamilton: In 2020, the RUMC Foundation distributed $163,996 in grants bringing the total endowment lifetime distributions to $1,300,752.05. Visit rumcf.org to see our 2021 Year-End Review available mid-to-late February.
Q: Why should members and Sunday school classes at RUMC consider establishing an endowment with RUMCF?
Hamilton: Ironically, two of our 2021 officers are in two of the Sunday school classes that each have a class endowment.
Jim Dowland, 2021 chairman, 2022 vice-chair, and member of the Bereans Sunday school class, said, “Giving to the Foundation is a great way to remember or recognize people that have made a difference in your life or the life of the church. Legacy giving is an effective way to provide funding for meaningful causes for the next generation.”
Shaw Skillings, 2020 chairman, 2021 vice-chair, and Christians Under Construction Sunday School Class member (rumcf.org/cuc) founded the Heather Skillings Higginbotham Memorial Endowment (rumcf.org/skillings) to fight cystic fibrosis. He said, “An RUMC Foundation endowment is a perpetual gift that creates a lasting legacy. An initial endowment of $50,000 will more than double over 20 years while paying out more than the initial investment to desired RUMC causes. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.”
Q. What types of causes do RUMCF endowments support?
Hamilton: Our endowments support a variety of causes. Here are two examples. Additional endowments are featured at rumcf.org/ourendowments.
Carol Baumgartner Family Endowment for Caregiving
Carol Baumgartner passed peacefully in her sleep after a six-month battle with brain cancer in 2019. A steward of her community, she served as a school counselor and touched the lives of many students through the years. This endowment helps provide funding to the caregiver, be it transportation, medical, or simply help with general needs to ease the load. Visit rumcf.org/baumgartner.
RUMC Preschool and Kindergarten (RUMCK) has been educating Roswell’s littlest hearts since 1971. RUMCK aspires to promote a loving, Christ-centered environment to prepare each child for school readiness. In 2015, a group of donors with the leadership of John Lindsley, the former board chair, established the RUMCK Endowment with the goal of generating yearly income to be used to benefit the school, programs, and curriculum. The generous initial donors included parents, church members, and other stakeholders who supported the ministry of RUMCK. Visit rumcf.org/rumck.