New Haven II

     3.  Eight years ago, our investment process was remarkably simple.  The Investment Committee met three times a year for about half a day, discussed the current situation with the portfolio managers and went home.  Since then, the amount of assets under the Committee’s eye has almost tripled, we retain a consultant to provide staff support for the committee, to help it carry out its responsibility to establish investment policy, devise appropriate strategies for implementing that policy, and monitor investment performance.  We meet five to six times per year for a full day and do a considerable amount of work between meetings.  New Portfolio managers are now at work, and we have in place a working structure which, while it does not guarantee superior investment results, makes their achievement more likely.

     In addition to professionalizing our investment structure, we have diversified significantly the kinds of investment vehicles we are employing.  We believe diversification spreads risks, increases investment opportunities, and tends to counter cyclical trends evident in listed securities.  We have, and are making use of venture capital pools, real estate investment trusts and other funds, oil and gas drilling programs, a value-oriented small capitalization stock mutual fund, and other special situation directly placed investment.   We want our investments in many baskets.

     4.  The progress at the Beacon Press has been most gratifying.  We have tailored our expectations of the Press to the acceptance of it as a university press model and not a commercial trade publisher.  This is not only more realistic, but fits in with our sense of the appropriate mission for Beacon.  An advisory Board of distinguished publishing figures is in place;  a forward moving five year business and financial plan guides operations.  Beacon's list is once again distinguished enough to attract positive media attention, not to mention growing sales.  Most of this, of course, is due to Wendy Strothman, Beacon’s Director, who has led the turnaround.

     5.  Visions for Growth, the first Association-wide capital fund drive since merger, was conceived, conducted and completed during the past eight years.  This was truly a milestone, not just because we needed the $4 million, but because we needed to test ourselves to prove we cared enough to carry through on an effort such as this.  It was good for the institution’s cardiovascular system.  It also enabled us to provide seed money for a number of truly important programming initiatives;  field services, new congregations, extension ministries, the new hymnal, and Beacon Press.

     6.  Six years ago we established a special task force to assess how to increase significantly our giving to the Annual Program Fund.  Working with the Development Office, we recommended as the single most predictable method of increasing APF income, an increase in the suggested share per capita giving by congregations from the then $12 per member level. The task force’s theory was that there was no other source than ourselves for the additional financial support we needed, and the congregations would respond if the call was issued.  Looking back, it doesn’t seem like a very brilliant piece of creative thinking by the task force, but I can tell you that at the time, it was considered pretty revolutionary by some.  We were right, and the congregations did respond, and we are stronger today as a result.

     The Annual Program Fund has moved into the lead as the principal source of income, ahead of that received from our endowment.  In the coming year the APF is expected to provide 45% of budgeted income, versus 40% from investments.  This is a great tribute to the efforts of our development staff, the APF volunteer organization, and, most of all, to our contributing congregations.  Our investment return has grown as well, but hard working people can often do more than hard working investments.

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