December 15, 2017

Investing with Faith / Elisa Smith

Endowment distributions fulfill response to social teaching

Elisa SmithMany Advent Giving Trees are up in parish churches throughout central and southern Indiana, and tags are ready to be selected. Our participation in this activity is a response to Catholic social teaching, and challenges us to live our call to love our neighbor as we love God.

One archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation endowment, the Christian Social Action Endowment for St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, is living out that call year-round by funding Christian social action initiatives at the parish, national and international levels.

Bill Spangler, chairman of the Christian social action commission at St. Luke Parish, recently shared with me, “Back in 2005, we helped the commission take $250,000, raised during a capital campaign and invest it in an endowment fund to be used for supporting Christian initiatives outside that parish.”

With the $12,000 to $16,000 income the endowment creates each year, the commission provides small grants, mostly $1,000 and under, to support projects consistent with the goals of Catholic social teaching. The commission supports everything from local teachers’ outreach programs to projects fighting poverty in Appalachia, Honduras and Tanzania.

“I like the fact that most of our grants are small grants,” Spangler told me. “They go to help organizations that aren’t tremendously well-funded. Our grants are a good kick-starter for programs that are just gaining some wind or in desperate need of funding.”

Spangler also admitted that establishing an endowment fund was not his first thought. Fortunately, another commission member, Fred Hofheinz, who worked for Lilly Endowment, Inc., in Indianapolis, suggested establishing one through the Catholic Community Foundation.

“To see this go on year after year and have the kind of impact it has had is amazing,” said Spangler. “I would not have thought of it myself because outreach people often get caught up in immediate needs, but it’s been extraordinarily beneficial. Twelve years of really helping others, it’s a legacy that I think we are very proud of.”

If you find yourself wondering how you can also use endowment giving to create a legacy for Catholic ministries in need, feel free to reach out to me by e-mail at or by phone at 1-800-382-9836, ext. 1482, or 317-236-1482. You can also visit our website at We’ll be happy to assist you in the same way we did St. Luke’s Christian social action commission.

From all of us at the Catholic Community Foundation, have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

(Elisa Smith is director of the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation. Tax information or legal information provided herein is not intended as tax or legal advice and cannot be relied on to avoid statutory penalties. Always check with your legal, tax and financial advisors before implementing any gift plan.)

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