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Endowment Management

College and university endowments are collections of funds that support students, staff, and the institution’s mission. Endowment funds are designed to be sustainable over the long term, typically to honor an institution’s promise to a donor’s intent for their gift in perpetuity. Chief business officers manage endowments to be perpetual, growing, and consistent sources of revenue for colleges and universities, supporting both current and future students.

NACUBO has a wide variety of resources for those looking for endowment basics and for college and university business officers with endowment oversight responsibilities.

Your Endowment Questions, Answered

New for 2022: Explore answers to 10 common questions on what college endowments are used for and how they’re managed, with data from the 2021 NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments.

NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments

The NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments is an annual survey of institutional endowment investment performance, asset allocations, spending and governance.

Results from the 2021 NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments (February 2022) This webcast provides an overview of the results of the annual survey.


2022 NACUBO Endowment and Governance Programs

NACUBO will offer a series of programs in 2022 focused on endowment leadership and the relationship between the chief business officer and the board of trustees.

Microlearning: Endowment Fundamentals

Economic Sustainability Leadership

Earn CPE in this self-paced course on endowment fundamentals which features five 10-minute episodes:

  1. How Endowments Work
  2. Asset Allocations
  3. Spending Policies and Practices
  4. Fundraising
  5. Governance

Each episode is about ten minutes and features college and university endowment experts sharing their knowledge on each respective topic. Complete the course however it fits into your busy schedule—one episode at a time or in one sitting. Either way, you’ll earn 1 CPE credit for completing the whole course and gain wisdom that will help you along your higher education journey.

Socially Responsible Investing Resources

An Introduction to ESG Investing (September 2021) This slide deck provides a basic explanation of investing that incorporates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations and includes data about US assets under management using sustainable investment strategies by type of investor, ESG criteria, and more.

The Need for Diversity in Investments (June 2020) In an interview with NACUBO, Celena Aponte of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center discusses some of the barriers to, and ultimate benefits from, increasing diversity in investments and fund managers. This NACUBO Solutions Exchange resource is available for NACUBO members only.

NACUBO Responds to Congressional Inquiry into Diversity in Endowment Management (October 2019) In the fall of 2019, several members of congress sent a letter to NACUBO expresscing concern about a lack of diversity among the leadership of firms managing college and university endowments. This is an area NACUBO is keenly focused on, Johnston wrote back.

Seeing SRI in Context (March 2019) Do SRI/ESG Strategies Lower Endowment Returns? NACUBO conducted a comparative analysis on the overall impact of SRI on short-term and long-term investment performance between institutions that use SRI and those that do not.

Diversity in Portfolio Ownership (Podcast, April 2019) Juan Martinez, Vice President, CFO, and Treasurer of the Knight Foundation, joins NACUBO senior director of federal affairs, Liz Clark, to talk about diversity in the asset management industry. Research supported by the Knight Foundation looks at trends in women and minority-owned asset management firms— and the results challenge long-held assumptions in the field and open the door to a more aggressive acceptance of diverse portfolio ownership.

COVID-19 Impacts on Endowments and Charitable Giving

COVID-19 Endowment Impacts and Stewardship Strategies (June 2020)

Last year, the 2019 NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments® (NTSE) gathered data from 774 U.S. colleges, universities, and affiliated foundations to study FY19 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019). In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that the crisis is bringing to college campuses across the country, NACUBO and TIAA issued a survey to the study participants on April 27, 2020, to learn more about the impact on endowment values and investment and spending strategies.

Endowments: How are Colleges Responding to Current Needs Without Shortchanging the Future? (Podcast, June 2020) Maeesha Merchant, senior vice president and CFO at California Institute of the Arts and Tom Heck, chief investment officer and CFO at the Ball State University Foundation, join NACUBO Vice President Liz Clark to discuss the role of college and university endowments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Economy and Charitable Giving (Podcast, June 2020) Brian Flahaven, senior director for advocacy for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), joins NACUBO’s Liz Clark to discuss the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on charitable giving at colleges and universities. “There’s a lot of uncertainty,” he says. “Uncertainty is the enemy of charitable giving.”

Questions about Endowments? (April 2020) Access an FAQ to learn more about how the early 2020 market downturn impacted endowments.

Investment Governance in Times of Market Volatility (May 2020) How do you navigate the current market volatility and avoid the emotional side of investing? (Originally Aired May 1, 2020) This 30-minute webcast is now available on demand and is complimentary for NACUBO members.

Endowment Fundamentals

Endowment Management, College and University Business Administration This resource is complimentary for NACUBO members, $70.00 for non-members.

Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)

Uniform state law provides fundamental rules for the investment of funds held by charitable institutions and the expenditure of funds donated as “endowments.” Those rules support two general principles:

  1. Assets would be invested prudently in diversified investments that sought growth as well as income, and
  2. Appreciation of assets could prudently be spent for the purposes of any endowment fund held by a charitable institution.

These two principles have been the twin guide stars of asset management for endowments since UMIFA became the law of the land in nearly all U.S. jurisdictions. Learn more by exploring these UPMIFA resources.

On-Demand Webcasts

Investment Governance in Times of Market Volatility — How do you navigate the current market volatility and avoid the emotional side of investing? (Originally Aired May 1, 2020)

Reaching Expectations (March 2020) In spite of volatile markets, many university endowments hit their long-term return objectives in FY19. Are these stronger results sustainable? The recording is available for on demand access.Or, read more in coverage from Business Officer.

Hedge Funds and Endowments' Operational Infrastructure (October 2018)


Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research


Press Release

  • February 18, 2022

    Higher Education Endowments Post Strong Returns During the Pandemic But See Inflation as an Emerging Challenge

    Student financial aid receives largest portion of endowment spending.

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  • September 18, 2020

    NACUBO Applauds IRS and Treasury for Reasonable Approach to Problematic Endowment Tax

    The IRS and the Department of the Treasury released final rules for the endowment excise tax and took a measured approach to an otherwise misguided levy on certain private colleges and universities.

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  • May 18, 2022

    Historic Endowment Study Data

    Historical endowment data from institutions that particpated in the annual NACUBO endowment surveys

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  • March 01, 2022

    2021 NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments Sponsors

    Thanks to the many corporate sponsors for their support of the annual endowment study.

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Upcoming Events

  • July 21, 2022

    What Is the Optimal Organizational Structure for a Finance Office?

    August 25, 2022 | 12:30–1 pm ET | Online

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  • June 02, 2022

    Washington Update (September 2022)

    September 16, 2022 | 2–2:30pm | Online

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