Endowment Committee By-Laws
ENDOWMENT COMMITTEE BY-LAWS
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION
OF BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK
Adopted June 2, 1991
Revised June 3, 2001
Revised June 8, 2014
Revised June 14, 2015
Revised June 12, 2022
ARTICLE I. MISSION STATEMENT
This Committee is charged with the stewardship of the Endowment Fund of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton, New York. This stewardship shall include: the raising, the administration, and the disbursement of funds given to the Congregation for its endowment.
ARTICLE II. ORGANIZATION
Section 1. Relationship to the Congregation’s Board of Trustees and Congregation
This Committee shall be “semi-autonomous” in that it shall abide by these By-Laws and the By-Laws of the Congregation. It has a fiduciary responsibility to the Congregation. It need not obtain the prior approval of either the Board or the Congregation for its actions. It has reporting responsibility to the Board and the Congregation and is directly responsible to the Congregation for the success of its actions by means of the election process. This does not disallow seeking the advice of either the Board or the Congregation. As a semi-autonomous entity, the expenses associated with raising, administration, and disbursing of the fund’s assets shall be borne by the fund.
Section 2. Composition of the Committee
The Committee shall consist of eight persons, seven voting members and one ex-officio member as follows:
The President of the Congregation (or a delegate appointed by the President from the Board of Trustees).
A representative of the Congregation’s Finance Committee (to be chosen by the Finance Committee).
Five members nominated by the Leader Development and Resource Committee of the Congregation and elected by the Congregation at its Annual Meeting. No more than one of such five persons may be a member of the Board of Trustees.
The Minister of the Congregation.
Section 3. Method of election and term of office
Except as hereinafter provided, the term of each Committee member shall be three (3) years. No person shall serve more than two consecutive three (3) year terms. A person serving two consecutive three (3) year terms may be elected or appointed to the Committee again after a lapse of at least one (1) year from the end of such previous terms. In order to provide for overlapping terms of membership, the first year elections shall elect one person for a one year term, two persons for terms of two years each, and two persons for terms of three years each.
Section 4. Filling of vacancies
In the event of a vacancy on this Committee, for whatever reason, the Committee shall contact the Leader Development and Resources Committee to request designation of an appointee to serve until the next Annual Meeting of the Congregation, at which time someone shall be elected to fill the remainder of the term.
Section 5. Election and duties of Committee officers
The Committee shall elect from its elected membership a chairperson, a recording secretary, and a financial secretary. The length of term for these officers shall be determined by the Committee. The responsibilities of these persons shall be as follows:
The Chairperson, or person designated by the Chairperson, shall preside at all Committee meetings.
The Recording Secretary shall maintain complete and accurate minutes of all meetings of the Committee, and shall supply a copy thereof to each member of the Committee. The Recording Secretary shall keep a complete copy of minutes to be delivered to his or her successor. The Recording Secretary shall provide an annual report to the Congregation, and shall also provide reports to the Board upon request..
The Financial Secretary shall maintain complete and accurate records of receipts for the fund, income from the fund, and disbursements from the fund, including the names of donors and recipients. The names of donors, and those formally committing to donating in the future, shall be recorded in a book similar to the Congregation’s Membership Book. The wish of a donor to remain anonymous shall be respected.
ARTICLE III. TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS
Section 1. Practices and procedures
The Committee shall develop written practices and procedures to govern the work of the Committee.
Section 2. Contracts
All contracts of the Endowment Committee shall be authorized by the Endowment Committee and shall follow all church procedures for commitment of contracts and reimbursements.
Section 3. Other documents
The Chairperson and the Finance Committee representative shall be the only members authorized to sign vouchers on behalf of the Endowment Committee. Either one’s signature shall be sufficient.
ARTICLE IV. LIMIT OF LIABILITY AND COMMITMENT
Members of the Committee shall not be liable for any losses that may be the result of the investments of the assets of the fund except to the extent such losses shall have been caused by bad faith or gross negligence. No member shall be personally liable as long as he/she acts in good faith and with ordinary prudence. Each member shall be liable only for his/her own willful misconduct or omissions and shall not be liable for the acts or omissions of any other member. No member shall engage in any self-dealing or transactions with the fund in which the member has direct or indirect financial interest and shall at all times refrain from any conduct in which his/her personal interests would conflict with the interest of the fund.
ARTICLE V. MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
Section 1. Regular meetings
The Committee shall hold regular meetings at least quarterly to conduct their ordinary business. These meetings shall be open to the Congregation.
Section 2. Other meetings
In addition to the aforesaid regular meetings, the Committee, or subcommittees thereof, may hold other meetings. Such other meetings may be closed, at the discretion of the Committee, when discussions are to be held in respect to matters of a sensitive nature, such as personal financial data of contributors or potential contributors.
Section 3. Quorum
In order to transact business, at least four of the seven voting members of the Committee shall be present and of those four at least three shall be persons not also members of the Congregation’s Board. A majority of the voting members present shall carry any motion or resolution.
ARTICLE VI. REPORT TO THE BOARD
The UUCB Board appoints a Board Liaison to the Endowment Committee. The liaison communicates significant committee activity to the Board. Consistent with all committees of the Congregation, the Endowment Committee will submit an Annual Report in June. This report shall include all significant activity of the Endowment Committee such as: committee membership, new members to The Susquehanna Society, grants and financial disbursements, and Endowment Fund activity (gain/loss and the value of the account).
ARTICLE VII. REPORT TO THE CONGREGATION
The Committee shall provide an annual report to the congregation in advance of the Annual Budget Meeting. This report shall include the accomplishments of the Committee for the past twelve months and the plans for the next twelve months. The topics to be reported shall include its activities with regard to raising, administering, and disbursing funds. Information about the investments shall be provided, including: type of investment(s), gain or loss, and the value of the account(s). This report shall be conspicuously posted in the church and available to Congregation members at least seven days prior to the date of the meeting. Recognition shall be accorded to the donors and planned givers of the past year.
ARTICLE VIII. FUNCTIONS
Section 1. Raising of Funds
- a) The Committee shall periodically apprise the Congregation of the existence, credibility, and worthiness of the Endowment Fund.
- b) The Committee shall provide for the continuing education of Congregation members about the charitable aspects of estate planning, ways to transfer assets, the use of wills and trusts, life insurance, annuities, gifts of real property, securities or other tangible property such as art works and antiques.
- c) The Committee shall encourage and assist members and friends of the Congregation in making contributions to the Fund.
- d) The Committee shall solicit gifts throughout the year, dealing with donors individually.
- e) The Committee shall not hold general fund drives that would compete with regular Congregational pledge campaigns and anticipated capital fund drives.
Section 2. Administering the Fund
- a) The Committee shall accept donations to the Fund, add the donor information to a permanent record kept for that purpose, use the services of the Congregation’s Collector and Treasurer to channel the donation to the investment agency, and use the services of the Congregation’s Office Administrator to thank the donor. The donation shall not be held in the Congregation’s Treasurer’s account for more than one month. Donations received by the Collector or Treasurer shall be reported to the financial secretary in sufficient detail for the records. The Committee shall develop procedures for handling donations other than cash/money.
- b) All assets shall be held in the name of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton, New York Endowment Fund.
- c) It is preferred that donations not be earmarked for special purposes. However, the Committee shall be authorized to receive donations, the income from which may be earmarked for special purposes.
- d) The Committee shall invest the fund’s assets in a prudent manner.
- e) The Committee shall consider the Congregation’s social and ethical positions when formulating investment strategy.
- f) The Committee shall use professional management services such as an investment management agency, a bank trust department, or the UUA pooled income fund. The Committee shall not be directly involved in the buying and selling of particular investment vehicles such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
- g) The Committee shall monitor the success of the professional management service(s), and make decisions concerning the wisdom of continuing with a given service.
- h) The financial activity of the Endowment Fund shall be audited or reviewed as a part of the annual audit or review of Congregation finances.
Section 3. Disbursing the Funds
- a) There shall be no invasion of the accumulated original monetary value of the gifts to the Fund.
- b) Once the initial threshold of $50,000 has been reached, the Committee is encouraged to disburse the available proceeds and not to withhold it for further growth. The primary means for Fund growth shall be the Committee’s fund raising activities.
- c) A financial model for determining the proceeds available for disbursement, and designed to protect the fund from erosion by inflation, shall be chosen by the committee (e.g., the UUA-recommended Harvard Model).
- d) The proceeds may be disbursed as follows, in any ratio determined by the Committee:
(1) Capital improvements to Congregation property.
(2) Community outreach programs, such as local non-profit organizations.
(3) Educational grants, such as developing Congregation leadership and student activities.
(4) Wider mission, such as the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
(5) Other charitable purposes.
(6) Congregation operational expenses, but such disbursements are discouraged and should be made only after serious deliberation.
(7) The expenses of raising, administration, and disbursing the fund’s assets.
- e) The Committee shall seek suggestions for worthwhile recipients and projects from the Congregation, the Board, and Congregation committees.
ARTICLE IX. ASSISTANCE ALLOWED
- a) The Committee may request other members of the Congregation to serve as advisory members.
- b) At the expense of Endowment Fund income, the Committee may obtain professional counseling on investments, fund raising, or legal matters as it deems to be in the best interests of the Fund.
ARTICLE X. AMENDING THE BY-LAWS
These By-Laws may be altered or amended by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the Congregation present at any regular or special Congregational Meeting, provided that notice of the proposed change is included in the notice of the meeting, which shall be distributed to the Membership at least ten (10) days prior to that meeting.
ARTICLE XI. DISSOLUTION
Section 1. Dissolution of Endowment Fund and Committee
The Endowment Committee may be dissolved by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the Congregation present at any regular or special Congregational meeting, provided that notice of the proposed dissolution is included in the notice of the meeting, which shall be distributed to the membership at least ten (10) days prior to that meeting. The membership may determine at such meeting, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote, the disposition of the assets of the Endowment Fund.
Section 2. Dissolution of the Congregation
In the case of dissolution of the Congregation, all assets of the Endowment Fund, subject to all claims against it, shall be vested in the Unitarian Universalist Association or its successor to be held in trust for the benefit of a future Unitarian Universalist Society in the Binghamton vicinity.