Frequently Asked Questions
What is the LOPC Foundation?
The Foundation is a tax-exempt Section 501 (c) (3) organization formed in 1993 to provide financial support to LOPC’s ministries, programs, and facilities.
How large is the Foundation?
In 2016 the Foundation was investing about $9.5 million. This amount fluctuates with the market, with disbursements and with additions to the portfolios.
What does the Foundation do with its funds?
Foundation funds are used only to support the Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church and its ministry. Its funds are used to expand LOPC’s mission outreach, to support vibrant, ongoing, as well as new ministries, and to maintain LOPC’s buildings and campus.
How is the money invested?
Currently the Trustees of the Foundation use Schultz Collins Inc., an investment advisory firm, to manage its portfolios with a philosophy of diversification through a range of funds to balance risk and return for the long term.
How are Foundation funds used by LOPC?
The funds that the Foundation holds are largely held such that only a portion of the funds are disbursed each year so that the corpus can grow over time.
There are funds that can be spent only on facilities including everything from engineering studies, to phones and computers, to the new HVAC system in the Sanctuary.
There are funds that are available for all ministries of LOPC other than facilities. This includes all areas covered by the current Teams of Session. There are several small endowments that can only be spent by certain Teams such as Youth, Seniors, Deacons, etc. These donor restricted endowments are always spent for just those purposes but often draw money from the General Portfolio to meet the needs that exceed the money from these smaller endowments in any given year.
Who serves on the Foundation Board and how are the trustees chosen?
There are seven Trustees, nominated by the Church Officer Nominating Team and elected by the Congregation. The current Trustees fill the term of a resigning Trustee by their own process. Trustees are elected for an initial 4 year term with the possibility of re-election for an additional three year term. At that point the Trustees must take at least one year off before serving a final one year for a total of eight years allowed for any given person.
Who are the current Trustees?
Dick James, President
Lynn Trowbridge, Vice President and Secretary
Phil Placier, Treasurer
When does the Foundation know what will be available for church use?
The Foundation operates on a fiscal year from Oct 1-Sept 30, while the church operates on a calendar year basis. This means that the Foundation notifies the Church in October with the amounts available based on the trailing 12 quarters average of Adjusted Asset Value of each endowment fund. The money not in the endowment portfolios but already in the Trustee’s accounts [for example, the Unexpected Facilities Projects Account] remains invested until the Trustees release money for use.
What is the process for applying for grants from the Foundation?
Grant requests come to the Foundation after the approval of Session. Teams make known their plans and needs for the coming year through meetings with the Finance Team during November of the preceding budget year. The money from the Foundation becomes part of the budget when it is adopted by Session in January/February. Generally there is money that is purposely left available for things that come up during the year. The money that is not spent for whatever reason is carried over into the following year. Individuals wishing to request money from the Foundation for use for a project would make their request through the relevant Team or through the Finance Team. If approved by these Teams it would then go to Session for its approval.
What is the Foundation doing with the large bequest that has recently come to the Foundation?
A bequest of just over $5 million has arrived in increments from 2015-2016 from the estate of Craig and Jean Gregerson. This bequest is an endowment restricted to use for facilities and building equipment. The money has been placed in a separate portfolio along with money previously restricted to this same use – from Holman, Christy and others. The Trustees have begun to draw on this endowment as allowed by CA State law to serve three needs of the church. One is to help with annual operating budget needs of the church. A second is to build up an account to cover the Reserve Study Project needs of the church over the next 30 years [see question about – What is the Reserve Study?]. A third is to build up an account to help with Unexpected Projects in the area of Facilities.
What is the reserve study?
In 2012 the Session asked the Foundation to pay for a Reserve Study Report. Session retained as a consultant, Reserve Analysis Consulting LLC, to prepare a Reserve Study Report. The purpose of this report was to identify the Campus building components that LOPC needs to maintain, repair or replace over the next 30 years. The study was based on component useful life, remaining life projections and industry standards, and on the maintenance information provided by LOPC staff. Using this Study and sound stewardship and maintenance practices it was hoped that LOPC could avoid the long term costs of deferred maintenance. Although the Study was completed in 2012 there was no source of funding to act on its recommendations over the coming 30 years. Session through their Emerging Needs Funds and the Foundation covered the costs jointly. With the receipt of the Gregerson endowment for Facilities maintenance and with the knowledge that the Sanctuary Project was underway, the Foundation paid for an update of the 2012 Reserve Study to be completed in the summer of 2016. The Trustees hope that within the next few years, the Foundation will be able to fund most of the Reserve Study Projects. This will relieve the LOPC annual budget from these uneven draws on the budget and will ensure that maintenance isn’t deferred.
How does the Foundation portfolio grow?
The Foundation grows through gifts and bequests from members and friends of LOPC. Small Memorial Gifts come in quite regularly. Outright gifts are also given with some frequency. People whom we call “Friends of the LOPC Foundation” provide for the LOPC Foundation in their wills and trusts leaving either a set amount or a percentage of their estate to the LOPC Foundation. When they fill out a simple form with us stating their intent, they become Friends of the LOPC Foundation. All Trustees are Friends of the LOPC Foundation as all have stated this intent. Others become Friends of the LOPC Foundation by designating insurance policies or IRA’s to the Foundation. There are many ways to give and any Trustee would be glad to talk to members or friends about this.
The Foundation Portfolios grow also through returns on investments. The Trustees try to balance the need to grow the portfolios for the future with the needs of the church and its mission in the world in the present.
Who can give to the Foundation?
Anyone! The Foundation can be used by estates both large and small to further God’s work through LOPC and its outreach to those in need.
What kind of gift can I make to the Foundation?
Cash gifts are given as direct gifts, or in honor of, or in memory of someone. Bequests through a will or trust either as a specific amount or as a percentage, are perhaps the most frequent way. There are also gifts through retirement plans and through life insurance policies with the Foundation made the beneficiary.
Gifts of real estate may also be given.
Contact any one of the Trustees for additional information and consult your own advisors.
Can I designate how my gift is to be used?
Most donors elect to give undesignated gifts that afford the Trustees discretion to determine how to meet the Church’s most pressing needs. Of course, if a donor designates how their gift should be used, the Trustees honor that intention.
Will my gift be taxed?
The LOPC Foundation is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Any assets specifically left to the Foundation will not be included in your estate for tax purposes. Leaving IRA assets to the Foundation also avoids the penalty tax that otherwise could reduce severely the pass-through to non-charity beneficiaries.