Frequently Asked Questions About the Vision Endowment Program
What does the name "Eternal Vision" mean?
The name "Eternal Vision" signifies our focus on helping Christians lay up Heavenly treasure as they prepare for the day when they will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and receive eternal rewards for their service and stewardship. Our name also reflects the extended impact endowment giving continues to provide long after the lifetime of an individual donor. Because our Vision Endowments are secured by an assured promise to maintain Biblical standards, donations are guaranteed to have a significant impact for Bible-right ministry causes until the Lord's return.
Why should the ministry's endowment be managed through Eternal Vision as an outside organization instead of directly by our ministry?
To facilitate funding of the endowment, our planned-giving professionals provide confidential "third party" counseling to donors. The local church and Christian school still benefit directly from the gifts of donors. In addition, our legal and financial professionals are experts in managing the complex compliance requirements associated with the investment and management of endowment funds and many planned giving solutions. This provides the tremendous benefit of taking the burden of administration off your ministry's leadership and places that fiduciary responsibility on Eternal Vision.
How can we trust Eternal Vision?
EV is governed by a Board of Directors and an Educational Advisory Committee characterized by diversity vocationally, geographically, and politically. Decision-making power and confirmation power exist in both levels to insure no single group or individual could change the direction of the organization. Each Officer and Director maintains a Biblical testimony of local church membership and requirements of personal testimony and integrity in order to maintain good standing on the board. These standards include agreement in doctrine and philosophy.
In addition, EV applies GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures) standards in the handling of all funds, and the safe-keeping and investment of endowment funds are managed by a professional investment management company that specializes in institutional endowments.
How long will an investment last?
Once a gift is given to the Vision Endowment, it is never spent, only invested. The investment income is what provides the resources to accomplish the mission in the Christian schools. The impact of that gift continues in perpetuity until the Lord comes.
Who handles the endowment investing and what investment profile is used to promote growth and safeguard the principal?
According to our bylaws and the endowment documents themselves, the funds included in the endowment are to be professionally invested according to the strictest standards of investment. Eternal Vision's Board of Directors selects which investment companies will manage the actual investing. The endowments are carefully invested not only according to the legal requirements applicable to endowment funds, but also with Biblical standards in mind. We are careful to avoid "sin stocks" (companies engaged in a line of business that would be Scripturally questionable such as alcoholic beverages, gambling, tobacco, etc.)
Each Vision Endowment's investment objectives are:
- Preservation of principal to produce income,
- Regular income at a reasonable rate;
- High long-term total return from income and capital appreciation; and
- Investment of assets in institutions, companies, corporations or funds that are not in opposition to basic Biblical values and beliefs.
If Christian school teacher salaries are raised significantly through the Vision Endowment, will this damage the dynamic that is created with a "sacrificial servant" mindset versus a "career worker" mindset?
While this possibility exists, we do not believe that the "spirit" of the servant will be diminished by receiving an honorable compensation package. A servant with a sacrificial spirit will simply be able to do or give more. We honor the sacrificial spirit but desire to do better for these servants. For some reason, few see this as a problem when considering pastoral compensation. Proper pastoral compensation frees the pastor from being burdened with the things of this life so he can concentrate on those he serves. We believe the same will happen with Christian school teachers and we trust your school's administration to ferret out any applicants who might just be "in it for the money."
Couldn't our ministry establish an endowment for itself?
Of course, and some have tried, but ask yourself:
- Do I have the time to do it?
- Do I have the investing experience to do it?
- Do I have the estate-planning experience to do it?
- Can I sustain the institutional will-power to avoid spending the principal?
- Can I sustain the fundraising initiative that is required to fully fund the endowment?
- Will our donors give large gifts directly to our school to establish endowments? Are they doing it now?
- Why haven't I been doing it?
How long will it take for our Vision Endowment to reach "fully funded" status?
No one could forecast exactly how long it will take to fully fund an endowment. It should be understood, however, that this is a long-term, multi-generational process. Because the Vision Endowment is primarily funded through estate gifts, it may take many years before the ministry sees the tangible benefit of stewardship planning conducted today. Keep in mind, however, that every step of progress is permanent progress! And had this work been started in 1980, you would be fully funded by now!
How does Eternal Vision "preserve the integrity" of the donor's intent?
Preserving the integrity of donors' intentions is at the heart of the Vision Endowment program's success. When your ministry establishes a Vision Endowment, you formulate a promise to donors that articulates to them a commitment that you will remain firmly committed to the Biblical principles and standards that characterize your ministry today. When donors give to the Vision Endowment, they are accepting your promise and counting on Eternal Vision to preserve that commitment. As you will see from the sample endowment documents included with this package, our process is not a subjective judgment of your ministry and does not place EV in a position of command authority over your local ministry's autonomy to make the choices your leaders see fit to make.
The promise articulated in the endowment documents is divided into two areas: objective criteria and subjective criteria. For objective criteria, (i.e. clear-cut matters upon which no genuine disagreement could exist) such as the school's affiliation with a certain church or the contents of the ministry's official Statement of Faith, EV performs an annual confirmation. For the subjective matters dealing with the more fluid issues of "philosophies" and "standards," EV will send a document to your ministry on an annual basis that contains the promise you originally authored for the endowment, and your pastor (or senior leader), school administrator, and board chairman will certify the ministry's continued commitment to the Biblical principles contained in the affirmation. The endowment documents themselves acknowledge:
"Believing that the men of God placed by God in leadership positions of the local church remain best suited to judge the necessarily subjective matters of ministry philosophy and Biblical standards, Eternal Vision shall accept the provision of a fully executed affirmation as the final word on the matters contained therein."
Still have questions? Please contact our office and speak with a ministry representative. We would be delighted to help you understand our Bible-based Vision Endowment program and how it can help your Christian school solve the funding problem...forever!