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The Story Behind the ACWL-Nuveen Endowment Fund & Campaign

We have been talking a LOT about the ACWL-Nuveen Endowment Fund and campaign to raise $500,000 and the dollar-for-dollar match from the George & Betty Hilt Donor Advised Fund. You may be thinking, how did this endowment fund get started and why is it such a big deal? Also, is there a way that I can help?

First, what is an endowment fund? An endowment fund is like an investment fund, except the beneficiary is a nonprofit organization. The way it works is pretty simple: money donated to the endowment fund earns interest. That interest can be withdrawn each year to provide income for the nonprofit to cover costs such as utilities, salaries, or even programming. The invested money, or principal, remains in the fund. The more money in the fund, the more interest earned. The ACWL-Nuveen Endowment Fund is held at the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. Each year we earn approximately 4% interest - this is called the spendable balance. Let's break down the impact of that 4% interest: if your principal is $500,000, you can pull about $20,000 in spendable balance each year. If your principal is $1,000,000, that number jumps to $40,000. Our goal is to get our endowment to $1,000,000 which means the ACWL-Nuveen can provide more arts programming for Muskegon County and the White Lake community!

The ACWL-Nuveen Endowment Fund was started over 15 years ago, spearheaded by then board chair, David Pickard. Pickard recalls in a recent conversation, "During 2005, the twentieth year of the Arts Council, the Board and I, as Chair, recognized the need to establish a long term and growing source of operating funds, and therefore initiated an endowment campaign". Late in 2016, the endowment effort really got a boost when John Hilt committed to a $500,000 match from the George and Betty Hilt Fund. Mr. Hilt states, “As the sole advisor to the George and Betty Hilt Fund, it’s been my pleasure to create the $500,000 matching fund in George’s name. My uncle George loved the north Muskegon County area and had many fond memories of Sundays spent with his siblings at his father’s property on the White River. George also loved children and loved to see them excel. What better way than with the ACWL-Nuveen Endowment fund to honor his memory?”

ACWL-Nuveen Staff and Board hit the ground running in 2016 to start raising those funds. The goal was to have the campaign completed within 5 years – by the end of 2021. With the unanticipated hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hilt Family graciously agreed to give us an extra year to raise funds and collect pledges. Today, this campaign is run by Susan Newhof. Susan is very proud of the work the Endowment Committee has done and heartened by the support of the White Lake community and states, “This endowment fund is a rare achievement for a small non-profit organization. It is a sign of both the maturity of the ACWL-Nuveen and the community’s open-hearted support of its mission.”

Today, with contributions and committed pledges, we have just $46,342 left to raise. And with an anonymous donor pledging to kick in the final $15,000 if we make it to $485,000 by the end of 2021, we really only have $31,342 more to go! If you are interested in helping us cross the finish line, please visit And if you would like to help us reach our goal by the end of this year but can’t make a donation right now, you can always make a pledge! Pledges would need to be committed by the end of 2021, but you would have up to 3 years to complete the donation. To learn more about making a pledge, call (231) 893-2524 or stop by the ACWL-Nuveen: 106 E. Colby St. Whitehall.

As David Pickard says, “Thank you for loving the arts … forever!”


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