Frequently Asked Questions

What is the U.P. Catholic Foundation?

The U.P. Catholic Foundation is a separately incorporated permanent endowment vehicle designed to grow the Catholic faith through endowment building for the Diocese of Marquette. Endowment growth will provide for the financial stability and sustainability of parishes, Catholic schools and other Catholic causes in the Diocese of Marquette.

What is the purpose of the U.P. Catholic Foundation?

The Foundation serves to unite diocesan entities in faith and solidarity, provide socially responsible investment of endowed funds, and invite all Catholics into communion with others while becoming part of a much larger spiritual vision and fruitfulness. It serves as a repository to maintain and pool endowed funds, and provide opportunities to create new endowed funds, all of which are administered by the Foundation. Each fund is a component part of the Foundation with its own name and purpose as established by the founding donor.

What are the benefits of working with the U.P. Catholic Foundation?

Individuals, parishes and schools can enjoy stewardship of endowed funds without the work of endowment administration. The Foundation handles all endowment administration, investment and spending policy, gift acceptance, and fund agreements. By shouldering the administrative burden, the Foundation makes it easy to establish endowments, which in turn will strengthen the financial stability of parishes and schools. Socially responsible investment policy upholds Catholic teaching. Perpetually governed by Catholics.

What is an endowment?

An endowment is a permanent fund from which income can be used in accordance with the wishes of the donor. The fund’s principal value is not spent. The principal includes the initial contribution given to establish the fund, as well as additional gifts to the endowment. The assets of the Foundation grow through sound and socially responsible investment policies and from additional gifts. An endowment fund should not be confused with a capital fund, a reserve fund or a special project fund, all of which generally allow expenditures of principal.

Why would anyone want to establish an endowment?

Excellent programs require substantial, consistent and permanent funding. An endowment provides a stable base for that funding. In general terms, by creating or giving to an endowment, an individual can take another step in living out a life of stewardship – giving of time, talent and treasure in gratitude for God’s many gifts to us. Stewardship is not a one-time act of giving, but rather a way of life. As good stewards, each of us plays an important role in perpetuating Christ’s work in the Church. Fulfillment of the Church’s mission is dependent in part on the sustained support of the people of the Diocese of Marquette.

How does the U.P. Catholic Foundation benefit parishes and Catholic schools?

Distributions from endowment funds support a variety of Catholic ministries right here in the Upper Peninsula. Grant distributions are made directly to the beneficiary as designated by the donor. Parishes and schools enjoy stewardship of endowed funds without the work of endowment administration. The UPCF handles all endowment administration, investment and spending policy, gift acceptance, and fund agreements. By shouldering the administrative burden, the UPCF makes it easy to establish endowments, which in turn will strengthen the financial stability of parishes and schools. The UPCF offers socially responsible investment and is perpetually governed by Catholics. Endowments will help to smooth out the ups and downs of parish and school annual income by providing a stable and consistent form of funding.

Are funds invested in a way that agrees with the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church?

Yes, the U.P. Catholic Foundation adheres to the policies set forth by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. We are the vehicle through which donors may share gifts and know their intentions will be carefully followed. A capable group of Catholics who follow the tenets of our faith and serve as the Board of Directors ensures the funds will always be governed with strong Catholic values. Many of our donors tell us this is important and is a deciding factor as they make their gift plans.

Is the U.P. Catholic Foundation only for Big Givers?

No. The Catholic Foundation invites everyone to participate in the spirit of charitable giving and realize the joy of helping others. Gifts of any size are welcome, and indeed, essential to the Foundation’s mission. Many people will contribute through bequests made in their will or other planned gift instrument. There are many times when our gift may appear small, but, like the widow’s mite, it is much larger in the eyes of God, when it is given with a sense of love and gratitude. For administrative efficiencies, minimum levels are established to start a new fund, and before grants can be made to the beneficiary.

How do I make a gift to the Catholic Foundation?

Gifts may be made to existing funds at any time. Use our secure online giving system, or mail checks to UPCF, 1004 Harbor Hills Dr, Marquette, MI 49855. For stocks and other gift types, or to start a new endowment fund, please contact Terri for assistance by telephoning 906/227-9108 or email Foundation staff may collaborate with you and your financial planner, personal attorney and/or CPA to ensure your gift provides important benefits to you as well as the Church.

How do I establish a new endowment fund?

New funds to benefit a parish, school or other diocesan entity can be established with a minimum gift of $10,000. When you customize our simple 2-page boilerplate Fund Agreement, start-up legal fees are waived. Once the fund reaches $50,000, annual distributions begin. You can also establish other funds with a minimum gift of $75,000 plus start-up legal fees. Start by contacting us to discuss your charitable intent. Telephone Rob at 906/227-9108 or email

What is the best way to fund my endowment?

For individuals, that is a question best answered by you and your trusted financial advisor who knows your personal financial situation. Be sure to share your charitable intent with your advisor. A good place to begin looking a different ways to fund your endowment is our interactive planned giving website where you can learn about popular gift types, download planning guides, calculate your benefits, and more. There is even a resource page for professional advisors with important information they will need to assist you with completing your gift.

For parishes, schools and other diocesan entities, endowments can be funded through individual bequest giving, capital campaigns, pledges, and memorial/honorary gifts. In some cases, unrestricted assets may be transferred to the Foundation (please contact Tim at To create a culture of sustained, generous giving, it is important to regularly educate, invite and remind people. Hold an estate planning seminar, create an educational page on your website, and regularly include such information in your newsletters, bulletins and announcements.

Who manages the Foundation?

The Board of Directors are leaders in their parishes and communities and are accountable to both donors and recipients. As good stewards, they have hired a professional investment advisory firm (the National Catholic Investment Pool) to manage and invest the assets of the Foundation, and have the Foundation’s year-end financial statements audited every year. The Board is responsible for compliance with federal, state and canon laws. The Board is advisory to the bishop, although the bishop does not attend regular board meetings or manage the day-to-day activities of the Foundation. The Foundation maintains a service agreement with the Diocese of Marquette to manage the day-to-day accounting functions and development activities.

Who keeps track of the investments and donations?

The Board of Directors, through the service agreement with the Diocese of Marquette, receives and acknowledges all gifts and distributes those gifts according to donor intent. There is an Investment Committee made up of local professionals who monitor all investments for the Board of Directors. The Foundation is audited by an independent accounting firm each year. Audit reports are published on our website.

Can the Diocese claim funds being held at the U.P. Catholic Foundation?

The Foundation is required by law to distribute the funds in accordance with donor intent, which is documented in the Fund Agreement. A Fund Agreement is drawn up when a fund is established. The Diocese may assist with the distributions and compliance functions in accordance with each fund’s purpose, but cannot otherwise claim funds.

Can funds be designated for use in my parish?

Yes. Parish funds may be established by the parish or by an individual or family for the sole benefit of the parish. Once a parish fund is established, others may add to it at any time in any amount (so long as the establishing donor allows this). Distributions may be used only for the purposes documented in the Fund Agreement.

Does the Catholic Foundation displace my lawyer and my financial advisor?

No. The Catholic Foundation works closely with professional advisors to create only the charitable giving component of your financial and estate planning. With professional advisor knowledge and insight, we strive to develop a plan that is consistent with your overall personal, financial and spiritual goals, both currently and well into the future.

What is the spending policy?

A determination of the percentage of funds to be distributed each year is recommended by a Spending Committee. In accordance with the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA), the Foundation, at a minimum, considers the following factors:

  • The duration and preservation of the endowment fund
  • The purposes of the institution and the endowment fund
  • General economic conditions
  • The possible effect of inflation or deflation
  • The expected total return from income and the appreciation of investments
  • Other resources of the institution
  • The investment policy

When possible, the distribution amount is a percentage of fund assets based on a five year weighted average.

Once a Catholic entity sets up an endowment, can that entity take out money from the principal for other purposes such as capital projects?

No, all endowments are permanent and, thus, the endowment principal cannot be withdrawn and used for other purposes. The income from the endowment, however, may be used for purposes consistent with the Fund Agreement.

Can we/I add to our/my endowment fund?

Yes. In fact, most Catholic entities and individuals develop a plan for building their endowment. You may add to your endowment fund in any amount at any time.

What is the cost for endowment administration and investment?

The administrative fee is 75 basis points (0.75%) of the fund balance, up to $5 million. Fund balance over $5 million are charged 20 basis points (0.20%). The fee is calculated on the December 31 fund balance, disclosed in an annual letter to the beneficiary, and charged one time at the beginning of the fiscal year. The National Catholic Investment Pool cost includes the actual fees charged by the investment managers, the custodian, and the investment consultant. There is also a cost-based administration fee charged by the Michigan Catholic Conference. In total, average annual investment fees are less than 45 basis points (0.45%). The overall percentage is well within industry standards and should be a good return on your investment.

What services are provided to fund beneficiaries?

Parishes, Catholic schools and other entities that are beneficiaries of Foundation endowments can expect all accounting functions including tracking and reporting of fund activities, quarterly financial statements, annual audited statement, and endowment spending compliance support. They can also expect development activities including gift acknowledgment, stewardship of donors and gifts, grant writing and maintenance, gift solicitation and solicitation support, and all work necessary to bring estate gifts to completion. In partnership with the Diocese of Marquette, additional services such as estate planning seminars and campaign support may be provided.

How does the UPCF assure that donor intent is followed in perpetuity?

We do this through 1) a Fund Agreement that sets out the purpose of the fund at the time of inception, (so everyone is clear on intent and there is a signed contract between the donor and the UPCF) and 2) Local Advisory Committees that steward the distributions. Before the UPCF makes the distribution, the Local Advisory Committee must provide the UPCF with the following information, every year:

  1. Expected use of funds to be distributed by UPCF
  2. Other resources of the school/parish being used for this purpose
  3. Confirmation that funds most recently distributed by UPCF were spent in conformity with donor intent

The UPCF Board of Directors is responsible for reviewing this information each year, from each of our fund holders. In this way, we steward the mission of UPCF and are accountable to our donors and fund beneficiaries.