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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. 

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 2019 NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments (April 2020) This session, recorded at the 2020 Endowment and Debt Management Forum in Washington, DC, provides an overview of the results of the annual survey.

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.

Socially Responsible Investing Resources

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?  In the past, college and university investment committees may have been reluctant to fully adopt SRI/ESG strategies. As fiduciaries, boards are required to seek the maximum return for their endowments with minimal or manageable risk. Using negative screens may interfere with this fiduciary standard. 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.  All educational endowments, no matter how large or small, have unique characteristics that distinguish them from other pools of investable wealth, notably their tax exemption and long-term investment horizon (in theory, a perpetual one). Management of an endowment is typically led by the chief business officer and requires a partnership between the institution’s governing board and investment office.  Written by Randy L. Greene, you'll learn more about the internal structures needed at the institution including, accounting and record keeping, communication plans and managing the day-to-day operations of the endowment resulting from investment activity in the Endowment Management chapter of College and University Business Administration.

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.

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.

Hedge Funds and Endowments' Operational Infrastructure (October 2018)



Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research



Final Endowment Tax Regulations Adopt Reasonable Approach

September 18, 2020

The IRS and Department of the Treasury finalized rules governing the net investment income tax imposed on certain private colleges and universities. Many provisions in the final rules reflect the comments submitted by NACUBO and other stakeholders.

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  • January 30, 2020

    College and University Endowments Report 5.3 Percent Average Return in FY19 as Endowment Spending Rises

    Findings from the 2019 NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments have been released and show how endowments fared and supported students, faculty, and campus operations in FY19.

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  • October 18, 2019

    NACUBO Responds to Congressional Letter on Diversity in Endowment Management

    NACUBO President and CEO Susan Whealler Johnston has responded to a letter sent by six members of Congress concerning diversity among the leadership of firms managing college and university endowments. She highlighted NACUBO resources and our commitment to encouraging diversity in asset management leadership and the business officer profession as a whole.

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Press Release

  • 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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  • January 30, 2020

    U.S. Educational Endowments Report 5.3 Percent Average Return in FY19

    Nearly half of endowment withdrawals fund student financial aid

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  • August 31, 2020

    NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments

    This annual survey provides comprehensive analysis of investment returns, asset allocations, and governance policies and practices at higher education institution endowments and affiliated foundations, representing over $630 billion in endowment assets.

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  • May 26, 2020

    Historic Endowment Study Data

    Historical endowment market values and investment returns, net of fees, for endowment study participants from 1990 to 2018

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Upcoming Events

  • January 01, 0001

    NACUBO Town Hall: Financial Responsibility Rules and Clarifications

    November 30, 2020 | 1–1:45 pm ET

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  • December 04, 2020

    Unconscious Bias: Increasing Awareness as Leaders

    December 4, 2020 | 1–2:00 pm ET

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