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WFAA CEO comments on endowment values

This message was sent to UW-Madison deans on 3/31/20.

The market continues to react to these unprecedented times, and I know that many of you may have questions about endowment performance and campus funds. As you may recall, our 16-quarter moving average spend plan policy is designed to smooth out sudden changes in endowment values and to buffer the impact on campus programs. We expect campus disbursement amounts will remain roughly unchanged in the coming quarter. In essence, when we add the value of an endowment share at March 31, 2020 and remove the value from March 31, 2016, it will leave that moving average value roughly unchanged.

Amid this continued uncertainty, our investments team is focused on the long-term while providing current spendable endowment income. Our chief investment officer, Julie Van Cleave, is working closely with her team and our Investment Committee to balance the portfolio and find new opportunities given our existing asset allocation and the disrupted market environment.

At this time, WFAA is not recommending any changes to the timing of moving new gifts into the endowment pool. If a donor requests to delay a gift’s entry into the endowment, we will make those exceptions and honor the individual’s wishes.

Our development team continues to shift focus from gift solicitation to informing, engaging, and communicating. Our development directors are focusing on relationship building, and our communications and marketing teams are finding new ways to build connection during this time. Our teams are working diligently to innovate during these disruptive times, as we know that donor support is more imperative than ever.

We welcome your thoughts or questions. Thank you,

Michael M. Knetter
President and CEO
Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association