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endowment performance and practices presented at briefing

March 25, 2014 | ECF Press Release

2013 results continue long-term growth and exceed investment goals.

The Foundation hosted its second annual investment forum on endowment performance and practices on March 19, 2014. Presiding over the forum were ECF investment committee chair Ralph Segall (Chief Investment Officer, Segall, Bryant & Hamill), and committee members John McCarthy (Chief Investment Officer, Centaur Capital Partners, Inc.) and Bill Blanchard (VP-Private Banking USA, Credit Suisse).

9.4% average annual return since 1988

Since its inception in 1988, the Foundation’s endowment has earned an average annual return of 9.4%, a rate that has allowed the endowment to meet its funding requirements, offset the impact of inflation, and grow to support incremental spending. The 2013 investment return was 14.1%.


Segall observed, “Like many others, we were pleasantly surprised by the stock market in 2013; yet any one year’s results are not critical to our thinking. We have always viewed our investing activity as a marathon, not a sprint, and generating consistent returns over time is our objective.”

ECF board and investment committee member McCarthy summed up the group’s mission this way: “Why we do what we do, to borrow from a popular Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, is to balance future needs with the needs of today.”




investment and spending policy

The Foundation’s Investment and Spending Policy is designed to address the tension between saving and spending to provide for Evanston’s current and long term needs. The current policy enables the Foundation to take an annual 5% distribution from endowment to fund community programs, initiatives and grants, preserving the rest of the funds to grow at a rate higher than the 5% spending plus inflation to meet the community's needs in perpetuity.

Committee member Ingrid Stafford commented on the quality and experience of the thirteen member investment committee, “The Foundation is fortunate to have so many senior investment management professionals on the committee, both as board members and public volunteers. The cumulative professional investment experience of the committee is almost three centuries.” The all-volunteer work of the investment committee saves ECF an estimated $75,000 in financial consulting expenses per year.

The investment committee evaluates ECF’s portfolio performance against four standards: 1) the Foundation’s 5% annual spending target, 2) a passive index of financial market benchmarks 3) investment results of community foundation peer groups, and 4) risk-reward analysis. Segall concluded, “The Evanston Community Foundation is doing very well compared to its peers.”

2013-2014 investment committee

Ralph Segall, Investment Committee Chair (Chief Investment Officer, Segall, Bryant & Hamill, former ECF board chair)
Karl Berolzheimer (former ECF board chair)
Bill Blanchard (VP-Private Banking USA, Credit Suisse, ECF board treasurer)
Diana Cohen (ECF board member)
William Goldstein (President, Chesley, Taft & Associates, LLC)
Joan Gunzberg (ECF board chair)
Peter Lewis (Managing Partner, LFL Advisers, LLC)
John McCarthy (Chief Investment Officer, Centaur Capital Partners, Inc, ECF board member)
Mark McCarville (Partner, Braydon Partners, former ECF treasurer)
Kevin Mott (Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Financial Services – Evanston, ECF board member)
Eric Robison (Vice President & Private Banker, BMO Harris Private Bank, ECF board member)
Penelope Sachs (past ECF board chair)
Ingrid Stafford (Associate VP for Financial Operations and Treasurer, Northwestern University, former ECF board member)

about the foundation

The EVANSTON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, founded in 1988 with current assets of more than $19 million, helps Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive, and just community. It builds, connects, and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the common good. The Foundation builds endowments for current and future opportunities, fosters private philanthropy, focuses the impact of collective giving, finds solutions to community challenges, allocates grants, and provides leadership training.