The Road to 67 — Local Investments for Local Programs

Heinz has 57 varieties. UF/IFAS Extension has 67 (counties, that is). Each of Florida’s 67 county Extension offices is unique; our clientele, our economy and natural resources, relationships with local government, specific needs and challenges, are different for each county operation. And within that diversity lies the real strength of Extension–the bonds we form within local communities.

So it only makes sense that, when it comes to fundraising, we operate on a local level as well.

The Road to 67 is UF/IFAS Extension’s initiative to establish at least one charitable endowment in each of Florida’s 67 counties. In coordination with UF’s Capital Campaign, we’ve set an immediate goal of setting up endowments in at least 34 Extension offices by 2022. With endowments established in 25 counties so far, we’re well on track to meet that goal, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

An endowment with the University of Florida Foundation starts with a base principal fund of $30,000. That sounds like a lot of money, but there are many ways to reach that goal.

For one thing, endowments can have single or multiple donors. You don’t have to go out looking for the deepest pockets in the county for the “big ask.” (Although, if you are looking to target potential donors, UF/IFAS Advancement can help you find them.) An endowment can be built up by many donors giving smaller amounts. Many of these donations can come from fundraising events and email campaigns. You can also establish pre-endowment funds to build up an endowment over 5 years.

There are many ways that donors can give. They can write a check, make a bequest in their estate, or share publicly traded securities, life insurance, assets from retirement plans, or real estate. There are tax advantages to many of these gift opportunities, and UF/IFAS Advancement can help you navigate those with your donors.

Every endowment on the road to 67 is a story in itself. A lawmaker who wants to send 4-H youth to Tallahassee so they can learn to engage in government. A casual lunch conversation about Extension with a grower that ends with them writing a check. A team of Master Gardeners who are slowly building their legacy fund, one plant sale at a time.

Once established, endowments are a perpetual source of funds for your program. The principal fund is never touched, but generates interest of at least 4% annually. For an endowment of $30,000, that’s roughly $1,200 per year in a spendable account that can be used for anything outlined in the purpose of the gift agreement.

Endowments aren’t a use-it-or-lose it proposition. If the money in the spendable account isn’t used up within the year, that money doesn’t go away. Instead, you can either keep it in your 171 account for a rainy day, or you can add it to the principal fund, where it will build up and generate even more dividends in the years to come.

Endowments, once established, generate funds only for the purposes that are agreed upon between Extension and its donors. Want to develop a 4-H scholarship fund? Once it’s endowed, spendable income from the investment goes to 4-H scholarships, and nothing else.

The hard work that agents, partners and donors put into establishing an endowment within their county becomes a legacy that supports Extension programming for years to come. It’s an opportunity to make a lasting difference in your community.

Most importantly, you and your donors can see the results of their philanthropy right in your own community. It keeps money within the county to help residents at the local level.

So far, 4-H endowments have been the most popular. Why? Because 4-H has a large volunteer base, it’s a well-established outreach program in local communities, it involves youth development, and many donors grew up with 4-H and in some degree owe their success to 4-H’s brand of experiential learning. It’s a recognized brand name–people might not  know Extension, but they know 4-H.

I’d like to see the success of 4-H fundraising spill over into other Extension programming. Doing that begins with making household names out of programs like Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, various Ag efforts, Sea Grant, Master Money Mentors and many others.

The Road to 67 is more than a fundraising campaign. It’s committing to local communities, educating stakeholders about the resources and programming UF/IFAS Extension provides and making that programming available. Like everything in Extension, its about raising awareness, understanding needs and communicating effectively.

Katherine Davies and the UF/IFAS Advancement team are there to help you. Advancement has database information that can help you find potential donors in your area. They can explain to donors and to you how endowments and other forms of giving work. Fiscal regulations change often—they can give you the latest information. They can also help you figure out what to do with in-kind donations, such as equipment, supplies, etc., which can’t be put towards endowments.

The UF/IFAS Advancement webpage recently added a Faculty Fundraising Toolkit that includes a guide to establishing an endowment and tips for speaking with donors, printable brochures for giving opportunities, a simplified form for registering donations, and many other resources you’ll need.

For more information about Charitable Giving and the Road to 67, visit UF/IFAS Advancement’s webpage at https://give.ifas.ufl.edu/

The Road to 67 is Extension work at its best—forming bonds of mutual trust and cooperation between the county office and the local community.

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