S&FMA Endowment FAQs

Q: What is the purpose of the S&FMA Endowment?
A: The impetus for starting the Endowment was to create a reserve of funds available to cover critical expenses to ensure the Band will live on for future generations. The Band functions on a July-June fiscal year budget in which operational expenses are covered by income within that year. Experience shows that gigs come and go, costs increase and unexpected expenses arise. In the past, shortfalls in operating funds have threatened the viability of the Band to continue.

Q: Why an Endowment? Why not just have a reserve within the Band’s budget?
A: There are several advantages to establishing an Endowment:

  1. The Endowment’s purpose, per the Charter, is to “educate the public, and particularly aspiring musicians, in the art forms of marching band music…” Therefore the Endowment can reach out to the larger arts community and fund endeavors such as grants to support music education in schools.
  2. As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit with the IRS, contributions are tax deductible. This encourages donations. Also, income from Endowment investments is tax-free in most cases.
  3. As a separate entity, Endowment funds are protected from possible litigation against the Band. Since the Band performs for public and private customers in a variety of venues, someone could claim that it is liable for an accident, distress, or property damage. A significant reserve fund owned by the Band might be a target for litigation.
  4. The Endowment funds are managed by a Board of Directors who must act within the confines of the Articles of Incorporation, the Bylaws and the IRS rules for non-profits, thereby protecting the funds from inappropriate management.

Q: How does the Endowment raise funds?
A: Since 1999, when the Endowment was established, many hours of hard work have been donated in efforts to raise money, including:

  1. Contributions come primarily from individual donors who believe in the Band and want to support its long term continuation. We are grateful to all of the donors.
  2. Proceeds from activities such as the “King, Queen, and Royal Pain in the Ass” Contest, the $5 Gig Raffle, and calendar sales.
  3. Ticket sales to the Endowment-sponsored “Side Show” musical performances. Professional musicians, including Francine Reed, Tommy Dean, and Tony Winston, to name just a few, volunteered their time and talents.
  4. In 2014, the Endowment received its first ever public grant from the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs Power2Give Program.

Q: How large is the S&FMA Endowment?
A: Endowment funds have been raised over 15 years by our volunteers – slowly, one dollar at a time. As of 2015, the Endowment has approximately $90,000. Endowment funds, except for a small operating budget, are conservatively invested to earn income for future use. We hope to earn 4% annually. Funds are disbursed for grants to support the band while maintaining as much principle as possible.

Q: Why does the Endowment need so much money?
A: The original goal of the Endowment was to invest $100,000 and allow the Band to operate on the investment income. This was a reasonable goal in 1999 when interest rates where much higher than today. In the current market, income from $100,000 won’t cover the Band’s total operating budget. But the Endowment has covered critical costs, funded worthy projects, and allowed the Band flexibility regarding paying gigs. So even though we are “well endowed”, we continue to raise funds in hopes of meeting the $100,000 goal while at the same time awarding grants to support the Band.

Q: Why should I donate to the Endowment?
A: As a long-standing tradition, the SFMA charges no membership fees and does not require any other financial contribution from members. Also, the Band will never require members to sell band candy, tropical fruit, wrapping paper or underwear. The Band (including the Endowment) has no paid personnel. The Band also eschews corporate sponsorship so that we can “Be The Band” in all our splendid creative ways. So…. if you love being in the Band, feel the Band has added to your life and happiness, given you opportunities you couldn’t even imagine – then you might want to donate to the Endowment to make sure the Band can be at its best now and is here in the future for others.

Q: How has the Endowment Fund supported the Band in the past?
A: The Endowment has awarded the Band grants for new musical instruments and repair of older musical instruments. Endowment funds have covered operational costs such parking lot security during rehearsal and the liability insurance required under our lease with the Little Five Points Community Center. Endowment funds have enhanced Band’s marketing and communication activities by covering the cost of the SFMA website template and underwriting Band communications related to the 40th Anniversary in 2014.

These are examples of major expenses that could not be handled within the Band’s annual operating budget. Additionally, the Endowment arranged for the donation of dorm rooms from the College of Charleston for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival which made participating in the Spoleto performances inexpensive for band members. Currently, the Endowment is working on a project to dampen the sound in the rehearsal space.

Q: Who gets to run the Endowment?
A: Individuals are appointed to the S&FMA Endowment Board of Directors by the Band Council. The Bylaws call for “not less than three and no more than nine members” to the Board. Appointments begin in January. Actions by the Board are governed by the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws which are recorded with the Secretary of State of Georgia. Information on the current Board of Directors can be found here (link to Meet Your Endowment Board web page).

Q: Being on the Endowment Board seems really cool, err, I mean that I would like to support the future of the Band. How does one get to be a Board Member?
A: The Mouth will formally notify the Band of the opportunity to apply to be on the Endowment Board. Anyone can notify the Mouth, via e-mail, of their interest in being on the Endowment Board. The Band Council and Endowment Board may also seek out and recommend candidates. The Band Council will consider the applicants and make the appointments. Feel free to contact any of the current Endowment Board Members for more information. Officers within the Board of Directors (President, Treasurer and Secretary) are determined by the Board members.

Q: Does the Endowment do anything besides raising money and spending it on Band expenses?
A: Yes. The Endowment can fund grants that serve the broader mission of promoting the joy of playing music through performances and music education. In this way the Endowment serves as connection between the Band and the broader community. For example, as part of the Power2Give grant the Endowment is coordinating with elementary schools to promote “a life-long pursuit of instrumental music by bringing the joy of public musical theatre and costuming”.

Q: How are grants awarded by the Endowment? What do I have to do to apply for funds for a project that will support the Band or musical community?
A: To request funds from the Endowment you must complete a grant application form to describe the intended purpose and use of the funds, including a budget. The application asks that you explain how your project contributes to the overall mission of the Endowment and/or Band. Traditionally, the Endowment posts a notice in the Fall of each year asking for grant submissions. Funds are awarded for use the next calendar year. The Board, however, can entertain grant requests at any time of the year. Ask any Endowment Board member for an application or go to the Endowment Resources page.

Q: How does the Board decide what to fund and not to fund?
A: As noted earlier, the Board must operate under the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws. Therefore, all expenditures must support the purpose of the Endowment as stated in the Articles: “….to educate the public, and particularly aspiring musicians, in the art forms of marching band music, including, but not limited to, the promotion, demonstration and performance of such art forms in schools, at public events, and where people gather to enjoy music…” Costs that cannot be tied directly to supporting music learning and performance (or related overhead) cannot be supported. Unsupportable costs include food, beverages and entertainment costs for Band members. The Board of Directors takes very seriously their fiduciary responsibility for managing the Endowment funds in a legal fashion. Honoring the intentions of the many donors who contributed to the Endowment is also a primary consideration. The Board strives to spend the funds as promised to the hundreds of individuals who have supported the Band via the Endowment.

If you have any questions please feel free to chat with any of your Endowment Board members who would be happy to answer any of your questions!  Thanks!

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