University of Colorado Foundation
The University of Colorado Foundation is an essential partner of the University of Colorado, advancing the University’s mission by delivering exceptional donor experiences, safeguarding donor intent, ensuring adequate funding of advancement operations, and providing prudent management of the assets entrusted to the Foundation.
The University of Colorado Foundation is the portal for philanthropic giving to the University of Colorado and is responsible for receiving, managing, and investing the endowments and other gift funds the Foundation holds for the benefit of CU.
We deliver exceptional customer service – we are proactive in addressing the needs and prompt in responding to the requests of our internal and external stakeholders.
We act with integrity – we are committed to transparency and following best practices in the work we do.
We are innovative – we promote a culture of shared knowledge and new ideas.
We embrace our fiduciary responsibilities – we strive to be excellent stewards of the resources entrusted to us.
We are welcoming and inclusive – we foster a collaborative workplace environment that encourages and enables us to appreciate and respect one another.
About the University of Colorado Foundation
For over 50 years, the University of Colorado Foundation has partnered with the University of Colorado to enhance philanthropic support for CU. Private support for the University, given through the philanthropic portal of the Foundation, enables the University to transform lives through education, research, clinical care and community engagement. See the Impact Report 2022 and the CU Foundation’s Audited Financial Statements for highlights of the Foundation’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. See CU Foundation’s Financial and Investment Documents for additional years, fiscal policies and guides.
The Foundation was founded in 1967 by a group of dedicated alumni and community leaders who sought to raise and invest private funding for the University to augment its other revenue streams. The CU Foundation is a legally separate 501(c)(3) charitable organization that functions as a part of CU Advancement.
The Foundation focuses its efforts on donor stewardship through customer service and assurance in gift acceptance, processing and administration. During the fiscal year 2022, the Foundation processed 78,306 gifts and commitments. The Foundation invests and allocates gift funds in a manner consistent with the purposes established by donors, and distributes dollars from its managed funds to support a wide variety of programs and activities throughout the University system and on its four campuses.
As of December 31, 2022, the Foundation managed more than $2.7 billion in assets for the benefit of the University of Colorado, including more than 3,000 current fund accounts and more than 3,000 endowment funds. The endowments collectively were valued at $1.96 billion, and the Foundation’s Long Term Investment Pool (the “LTIP”) was valued at $2.5 billion.
In the first six months of fiscal year 2023, the University of Colorado Foundation’s Long Term Investment Pool (LTIP) returned a gain of 2.3% (net of fees). The LTIP’s 3-year annualized investment performance was +9.1%, its 7-year performance was +9.5%, its 10-year performance was +8.9%, and its 15-year performance was +6.6%. See the Investment Update for a current report on the LTIP’s recent investment performance.
Governance and Staffing
The Foundation is governed by an elected Board of Directors. Board committees include an Investment Policy Committee, a Finance/Operations Committee and an Audit Committee. See a list of board members and committee chairs.
The Foundation’s day-to-day operations are overseen by Jack Finlaw, its President and CEO, who works with an administrative staff of 20 employees. Read more about the Foundation’s executive team.
The Foundation follows an outsourced chief investment officer model (OCIO) and contracts investment management services through Agility, a private investment management firm. The Foundation’s Investment Policy Committee establishes the investment policy parameters within which the OCIO operates, and monitors the OCIO’s performance with an independent consultant’s assistance.
The Foundation generates revenue from three primary sources:
- an assessment on endowed funds in the LTIP;
- a distribution from the Foundation’s short term investment pool;
- a distribution from a board-designated quasi-endowment.
Of the $47.5 million in revenue budgeted for the fiscal year 2023, the Foundation will retain $6.2 million to fund its operations and transfer $35.7 million to CU as a contribution towards funding CU Advancement’s operating expenses and IT infrastructure investments.
Endowment Spending Policy
The Foundation’s Board of Directors has established an Endowment Spending Policy that sets the parameters for spending from the endowments the Foundation holds for the University’s benefit. The board is committed to investing and administering all endowment funds in compliance with applicable federal and state laws and industry standards.
The Endowment Spending Policy’s objective is to achieve a balance between the University’s present and future needs. This means balancing the needs of current beneficiaries and the University’s advancement operations, while preserving an endowment’s purchasing power to support future beneficiaries. The policy aims to provide the University with perpetual, growing and consistent revenue and to preserve each endowment’s real value, net of annual distributions and fees.
The Endowment Spending Policy has three components:
- a distribution formula
The annual distribution to a CU program from an endowment is paid on the first day of each fiscal year (July 1) in an amount equal to 4% of the endowment’s trailing 36-month market value as of the prior December 31.
- an assessment to fund advancement operations
The annual assessment to fund CU Advancement operations is 1.5% of the market value of each endowment. The fee is calculated as of December 31 and paid on the following July 1 of each year.
- rules relating to the suspension of distributions
The Foundation suspends distributions from pure endowments when the endowment’s market value is less than 90% of its historic gift value.
On behalf of CU Advancement, the Foundation convenes quarterly meetings of Trustees who are members of a national philanthropic council for the University of Colorado. Trustees serve as informed advocates for higher education and as ambassadors for CU. Trustees also commit to making personal gifts to CU at a level that reflects that CU is among their top philanthropic priorities. See a list of Trustees.