Q: What is the purpose of the S&FMA Endowment?

A: The Endowment was started to create a reserve of funds available to cover critical expenses, which will 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 earned 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.

In recent years the Endowment has broadened its mission to include direct support of music education in our community, such as grants to schools for music curriculum and instruments.

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 reaches out to the larger arts community and funds 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 resulting from an accident or another unforeseen event involving the S&FMA.
  4. A board of directors manages the Endowment funds, and they 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 primarily from individual donors who believe in the band and want to support its long term continuation.
  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, have 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.

Check out a list of recent past fundraisers here.

Q: How large is the S&FMA Endowment?
A: Our volunteers have raised the Endowment funds over 20 years – slowly, one dollar at a time. As of January 2019, the Endowment has approximately $100,000. 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 grant cycle while maintaining as much principal 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 were 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 to award grants to support the band and broader musical community.

Q: Why should I donate to the Endowment?
A: As a long-standing tradition, S&FMA charges no membership fees and does not require any other financial contribution from members. Furthermore, the band will never require members to sell band candy, tropical fruit, wrapping paper or underwear. The Band also eschews corporate sponsorship so that we can “Be The Band” in all our splendid creative ways. If you love the band and it has given you opportunities you couldn’t before imagine, then please donate to the Endowment so the band can continue to be independent.

Q: How has the Endowment Fund supported the band in the past?
A: The Endowment has awarded grants to the band to fund such expenditures like new musical instruments and the repair of older musical instruments. Endowment funds have covered operational costs such as parking lot security during rehearsal and the liability insurance required under our lease with the Little Five Points Community Center. Endowment funds have enhanced the band’s marketing and communication activities by covering the cost of the S&FMA 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 subsidizes the Spoleto performances for active band members.

Q: Who gets to run the Endowment?
A: The Band Council appoints individuals to the S&FMA Endowment Board of Directors. The bylaws call for “not less than three and no more than nine members” to the Board. Appointments begin in January and last for three calendar years, with three members staggered to roll off each year. 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.

Q: How does one become a Board Member?
A: The Mouth will formally notify the band of the application period 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. The board members determine the officers within the Board of Directors (President, Treasurer and Secretary).

Q: How do I 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 describing the intended purpose and use of the funds with a budget. The application asks that you explain how your project contributes to the overall mission of the Endowment. Click here to go to the Grants page for more information.

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…” The Endowment cannot supports costs that are not directly related to supporting music education and performance (or related overhead). 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 many individuals who have supported the Band via the Endowment.

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