Responding to questions from our KGVO Talk Back show audience regarding the possible use of financial gifts and endowments by the University of Montana to help solve the school’s financial situation, we spoke directly to the UM Foundation.

Senior writer for the UM Foundation, Kate Stober, explained the ways that monies received by the foundation can be utilized.

“One of the ways that a supporter can donate to UM is to give a gift that goes into our endowment,” Stober began. “The amount that they donated is the principal and that’s invested, and then we take the annual income interest from the endowment every year. Some donors will give a gift that is earmarked for something specific, like a certain department or scholarship, and our job is to make sure those wishes are honored.”

Stober said some donors give what are termed ‘unrestricted gifts’.

“If it’s a cash gift that’s unrestricted it can go anywhere to the area of greatest need, so a lot of those gifts are going to support the university at this critical time,” she said. “Some donors will donate those unrestricted gifts into our endowment and so every year we’ll use the interest that the university will direct where it’s most needed, and that’s the purpose of the UM Excellence Fund that supports many areas on campus.”

Stober said 2017 was the best fundraising year ever for the UM Foundation.

“Over $80 million was raised for UM, and part of that number was the single largest gift ever given by the Franke family to support the Franke College of Forestry and Conservation and the Franke Global Leadership Initiative,” she said. “Donors also helped to establish several faculty chairs so the donors are supporting those faculty salaries.”

The UM Foundation website lists 47 employees who work for the organization.