A new effort to balance 50-plus years of investments

Tim O'DonnellSeptember 23, 2016 - 

When it comes to managing investments, the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend must do one thing well—find balance. (Okay, that requires us to do a lot of things well!)

That's according to the organization's new investment consultant leader, Senior Vice President Tim O'Donnell of Fund Evaluation Group. In an effort to revitalize the Community Foundation's investment structure, CFGRB hired FEG to assist with investments. Financial advisors will continue to manage the portfolio, but FEG will provide oversight and make recommendations for improvements.

"We act as an extension of staff so everyone is aware of how the portfolio is doing," O'Donnell said. "We act as a liaison to make sure all the parties are doing what they're supposed to be doing."

O'Donnell has started the new partnership by reviewing the Community Foundation's investments and meeting with financial advisors to discuss portfolio strategy, construction and fees. Kathy Graves, vice president of finance and administration, said O'Donnell will then move forward to make recommendations on how to improve the way the endowment pool is managed. "Tim and his firm bring a wealth of experience and we are confident this will help us become even better stewards of our community's resources."

Community foundations nationwide face a unique hurdle because they have to meet the needs of communities today while also planning for tomorrow. "It's like a 75-year-old and a 25-year-old sitting down at a table together with their portfolios in front of them," he said. "The 25-year-old has the benefit of time and can build growth. The 75-year-old is focused on stability of return and income."

CFGRB is operating a portfolio that has to address the needs of both. "You could accomplish those goals independently, but a community foundation has to meet the needs of both of those at the same time," he said. "They need long-term growth, but they also have an annual distribution."

It's not an easy task to accomplish. "The current needs of the community are important," he said. "But if we spend too much, we're saying the needs of today are more important than the needs of tomorrow."

CFGRB has been great to work with because of the committed staff. "We're in the beginning stages and we have a lot of work to do, but they have a very knowledgeable and engaged committee," he added.

FEG advises on $48 billion of assets, with about $5 billion of that in almost 50 community foundations around the country. A majority of the investment advising O'Donnell does involves community foundations, an aspect of his job he enjoys.

"This is not a responsibility we take lightly," he said. "Our mission is to help the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend achieve their mission. We're fighting the good fight. We are generating a return that will directly increase the positive impact the foundation can have on the community."

And that's a balancing act that's good for donors, and the region.

More information about our investment strategy will be available in late-October. Watch our website and e-newsletter for details.

"The Foundation ensures that our dollars are used as efficiently as possible."

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