Lakes Alive Campaign Update
Total Pledges: $2,266,604
Total Received: $1,523,574
The end of 2015, approximately midway through the campaign, is a good time to take a hard look at our progress and outlook for the future of our Capital Campaign. It’s helpful to remember why we embarked on such an ambitious project. Back in 2010 it was becoming clear we were going to need more funds to protect the lakes and to control the growing milfoil problem. It was equally clear the state support was declining both as a percentage of our needs and, in some years, on an absolute basis. Thus we proposed to raise $1,725,000 of which $1,250,000 would go to create an endowment yielding (we hope) $50,000 annually for our operations. The remaining funds were earmarked to provide $175,000 of immediate additional operating funds (it takes a while to build a working endowment), add to our Reserves and pay campaign expenses. If we exceeded our goal, the additional funds would go to the Reserves fund.
The great news is you have as a community exceeded our hopes and our goal with Total Pledges of $2,266,604. As of year-end 2015, we have received $1,523,574 (67%) of the pledged amount and hope to reach 93% by the end of 2017. There are some additional pledges beyond 2017. A “thank you” seems insufficient. Your gifts and commitments are making the difference by providing the resources to carry on the preservation efforts and milfoil control specifically.
So what have we done with money received? In keeping with our original targets (mostly!) we have allocated, and in some cases spent, the funds as follows:
- Endowment Investment Fund = $975,000
- Reserves Investment Fund = $230,000
- Provided support for operations in 2013, 2014, 2015 totaling = $90,000
- Paid campaign expenses totaling = $166,165
- Paid investment management fees for 2014 and 2015 = $9,329
- Held ~ $50,000 in cash to help meet 2016 operational needs
This is great progress toward the “Now and Forever” goals of the campaign. Some near term needs have been met and the Reserves reinforced; the Endowment Fund, with the principal to be held in perpetuity, is at 78 % of its goal. Campaign expenses exceed the original target, but are still expected to finish below 9 % of the total raised: a very credible number in the world of fund raising.
A word or two about the investment funds progress. The investment program began in the second quarter of 2014 when we engaged John Wright and SKY Investment Group to manage the Endowment and Reserve Funds. The funds are invested for the long term (turnover is typically less than 15%) in a blend of stocks (60%) and bonds (40%). Objectives include a minimization of risk while seeking a 4+ percent return. In a 2014 world of stock market highs and many bonds yielding less than 2 %, this was a challenging time to initiate our investments. So far our funds have been less volatile than the markets, rising and falling less than either the Dow or S&P 500. In the recent market tumble of January 2016, our funds declined by 2.6% while the S&P 500 lost 5.0%. The overall yield from dividends and interest is approximately 3.7%, approaching our yield target during difficult times. We plan to begin drawing income from the Endowment Fund to support the milfoil control program in the fourth quarter of 2016. The draw (currently estimated at $30,000) is based on 4% of the average quarterly fund balances since inception. If additional funds are required, they will be taken from the Reserves Fund.
In summary, the campaign is proceeding well. Funds have already met immediate budget needs and the Endowment funding is ahead of schedule. Thanks to your strong and generous support we have the ability to meet new (and growing) lake preservation challenges. Without your financial support, the expanded milfoil control plans and program would not exist. We have enclosed your account statement for your records and financial planning. If you are a donor with a zero balance, perhaps you will consider surprising us with an additional donation. We promise to use it wisely. If you have questions, concerns, simply want more detailed information, or know of additional potential donors please call Jay Michael at 802-352-4301 or write at email@example.com.