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What is the Georgia Southwestern Foundation?

The GSW Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that serves Georgia Southwestern State University. Incorporated in the state of Georgia in 1979:

Manages assets and invests endowment funds to maximize their value for GSW;

Administers gift fund accounts in accordance with the donors' wishes for the benefit of Georgia Southwestern State University;

Assists Georgia Southwestern in raising funds from the private sector.

Through sound fiscal management, the GSW Foundation Board of trustees are committed to fundraising in support of the students, faculty and staff of GSW. Through sound fiscal management, the trustees oversee that funds are invested and administrated in accordance with donor intent.

I thought GSW was state supported. Why does it need gift funds?

The state takes great pride in Georgia Southwestern State University, and provides as much funding as it can. The annual money allocated to GSW from the University System of Georgia is based on the enrollment of two years prior to their funding. Competing demands for state dollars, however, mean that less than 44 percent of GSW's operating budget is provided by the state appropriation; Georgia Southwestern is state assisted rather than state supported. Since tuition and fees provide only another 18 percent of the budget, gifts are becoming increasingly important to Georgia Southwestern.

What does the Foundation do with the gift I make for GSW?

Exactly what you tell it to do. Typically, about 98 percent of gifts are designated by donors for a particular scholarship, school, department, or program. The Foundation deposits those gifts directly into one of more than 200 accounts established at the Foundation. Your gift is restricted when you write on your check, pledge card, or other correspondence how you would like it to be used. All checks should be made payable to the GSW Foundation with designation in the bottom left hand corner as to where the gift should be applied. This designation is confirmed on your receipt.

Expenditures of these gift funds are made by department chairs and supervisors, who are GSW administrators, faculty, and staff. Expenditures must be for purposes which meet the guidelines established for that account. The Foundation issues checks amounting to over $1.3 million each year.

Why is the Foundation separate from GSW?

All gifts benefit Georgia Southwestern State University, but the Foundation is specifically organized to provide the management, reporting, and stewardship services that donors require. The Foundation has the fiduciary management responsibilities of the funds which results in greater efficiency for the Foundation and the University. Most public colleges and universities have separate foundations – and for good reasons.

Donors who give in support of GSW can be assured of confidentiality because the Foundation is a separate, not-for-profit corporation. Donors, and others, have on file highly personal correspondence and documents relating to their gifts. Laws mandating that the records and meetings of state institutions be open do not meet the donors' expectations for confidentiality.

The Foundation manages millions of dollars in endowment funds, and the return on these investments contributes significantly to the gift funds available to GSW. Unlike state appropriated dollars, gift funds can be invested in equities and other instruments for long-term growth. Generally, these earn a significantly higher rate of return than state appropriated funds can realize. The difference in earnings can be substantial.

Georgia Southwestern State University prepares annual budgets in advance to cover operating costs for personnel and the physical plant, and has very little discretionary funding. Gifts offer flexibility to GSW because they add to the pool of discretionary funds.

When priority needs are identified by the University, these unrestricted gift funds can be used upon approval of the Foundation Board. Gift funds can also be used for purposes that cannot be funded with state appropriated funds.

Who governs the Foundation?

The 35 current members of the Board of Trustees govern the Foundation, and the Foundation staff reports to them. Elected by their peers, many trustees are leaders in business, the professions, and civic affairs. All serve without compensation and contribute their considerable expertise. They meet two times a year as a body and some attend monthly committee meetings between full sessions. In addition, they contribute generously of their own resources.

The trustees provide external oversight of the Foundation's operations. The trustees recognize a responsibility to reflect in their membership the diversity of GSW alumni and friends.

How does the Foundation fulfill its responsibility to be accountable?

The Foundation recognizes its responsibilities to maintain both the public and the private trust. The Foundation openly discloses information about its policies, activities, financial statements, and other information to further the understanding of its mission and operations. In turn, the foundation honors its obligation to maintain donor confidentiality and to pursue accepted business practices. In addition to the external oversight provided by our Board, the foundation meets federal, state, and local regulatory requirements.

As part of our reporting responsibility, we produce the following items:

  • Financial audit, conducted by a Certified Public Accountant;
  • Annual report of giving and activities, including recognition of donors;
  • Operating budget, including sources of funding;
  • Policies on disbursement of gift funds;
  • Investment policies, expenditure guidelines, and quarterly performance reports;
  • Return on investments;
  • Development liaison between Georgia Southwestern State University and the GSW Foundation;

Tax form 990, available by request for inspection at the Foundation office.

These items are available from Georgia Southwestern Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 926, Americus, GA 31709, 229-931-2014.

Who decides how the Foundation expends unrestricted funds?

The President of Georgia Southwestern State University determines which projects to present to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for funding approval, after consulting with faculty leaders, the university administrators, deans, department heads and other campus groups.

Can a GSW faculty member go directly to the Foundation for funding or other assistance?

Faculty and/or staff should first discuss funding needs with his/her department chair, program director, dean, or vice president as funding may be available through the department. If funding is not available, the GSW Foundation’s Executive Director, who serves as the university’s chief advancement officer, may be approached. The Executive Director can assist in finding resources.

How are Foundation operations funded?

The annual operating budget is derived from donations to the Foundation's operating fund and quasi-endowments. Earnings from these endowments can be used at the discretion of the Board, but the corpus or original principal is not spent.

What services are provided by the Foundation?

The Foundation provides funds for the University's priority needs as well as services to manage assets and administer gift accounts for Georgia Southwestern.

The Foundation also:

  • Manages investments;
  • Provides accounting services for gift accounts;
  • Administers more than 200 scholarship accounts and restricted funds for the benefit of GSW students;
  • Handles specialized donor relations;
  • Provides funds for publications and donor recognition brochures;
  • Plans events to recognize donors and volunteers;
  • Assists in maintaining records for donors and alumni;
  • Assists with feasibility studies for proposed fundraising campaigns.

What are the investment policies of the Foundation?

We oversee an independent investment management firm that manages the investments of the GSW Foundation.

The Foundation is a long term investor. This enables us to purchase long term assets. By keeping our long term objectives in mind at all times, we hope to weather the periodic bad times when investors with short term orientations tend to quit the game. Experience has demonstrated that this long term focus has provided us with better long range results.

We believe it is better to own than loan. We expect the stock market to provide greater total returns, income and capital appreciation than the bond market does.

We expect continued inflation. We believe some inflation is a natural by-product of our economy and our political process.

Because we have no intention of spending any of the principal funds in the endowments, market value fluctuations are of a lesser concern with long term investing.

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