serves North Carolina Baptists who want to discuss how to leave a legacy for
ensuing generations through Christian estate planning. The Foundation maintains
that everyone should have a will and it encourages every Christian to include
ministry organizations as beneficiaries in that will. With certain estate
planning vehicles, the donor may realize income and tax benefits while he or
she yet lives.
To discuss the possibilities
for your life, contact the Foundation at (800) 521-7334 or through
Founded in 1920, North
Carolina’s Baptist Foundation observes its 90th anniversary this year and
three-fourths of its executive directors are on hand to help celebrate.
The Baptist Foundation, an
agency of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, functioned its first
42 years simply by having its five-member board supervise assets and
investments, which started with a $1,000 gift for Baptist Hospital. That gift
prompted the Convention to create an agency to handle endowment giving, but it
did not employ a fulltime director until Gordon Maddrey was hired in 1962 when
assets had reached $250,000.
Today Clay Warf is only the
fourth executive to oversee Foundation work. Assets under management now total
$128 million and its mission remains unchanged to help Christian stewards
undergird and enable ministry “until Jesus comes.”
North Carolina was the first
Baptist state convention to create a foundation, an idea that originated with
Gilbert Stevenson who was Wachovia Bank’s first trust officer, according to Ed
Coates, who retired as Foundation exec in 1997. Stevenson was a prominent
churchman and lawyer from North Hampton Country.
According to Coates,
Stevenson spoke for two or three successive years at the annual Baptist State
Convention meeting to push the notion that the Convention needed a trust
The first such agency in
Southern Baptist life, Coates said North Carolina’s Foundation is still
considered “a pilot, a key foundation and it is admired for what we do here in
terms of management.”
Coates was just the second
executive director, serving for 25 years after succeeding Maddrey in 1972. Upon
retirement in 1997 Coates was succeeded briefly by Scoot Dixon who returned to
Gardner-Webb University after just a year at the helm.
Warf succeeded Dixon and is
the first pastor to claim that seat.
To improve access to key
Foundation personnel, the Baptist Foundation inaugurated the concept of area
managers with Tom Denton operating out of New Bern in the east; Charles Fox in
Winston-Salem and David Webb in Morganton. That move multiplied the face of the
Foundation and puts personal service very near the vast majority of North Carolina
It also cut a lot of miles
off the schedules of Warf and Development Director Bill Overby, who started
with the Foundation in 1991. The Foundation’s current strength “has a lot to do
with the area managers who are out there every day,” Warf said.
He believes people are very
receptive to Foundation representatives because they aren’t selling anything.
“All we’re trying to do is
help them be good stewards and use their God-given assets to support the very
things they’ve loved and supported all their lives,” Warf said.
“No one profits from
anything an individual does in their estate plans,” Overby said. “We are just
there to help.”
The Foundation staff finds
their work “a joy” Warf said because they work daily with “the most generous
people in the world.” Staff gets excited about the generosity of people who are
looking for a way to support the ministries and institutions they love when
they no longer need the resources God has blessed them with in this life.
The Foundation took the lead
36 years ago when it began to sponsor an annual meeting for development
officers of North Carolina Baptist agencies and institutions. Coates came back
from a (now defunct) SBC Stewardship Commission event determined to be as
knowledgeable about trusts and financial instruments as he could and he put
training at the top of his list for all staff members.
For almost four decades the
Foundation has been instrumental in helping other development officers be
knowledgeable as well.
You can start small
People can establish an
endowment at the Baptist Foundation with as little as $100, an amount unheard
of in other foundations, and one that makes no business sense, Overby said.
But it makes the Foundation
accessible to anyone and “makes a lot of friends,” he said. No endowment will
begin to pay out to beneficiaries until it grows to $1,000.
Working with the Baptist
Foundation for estate planning makes sense for many reasons, said Coates,
Overby and Warf while visiting around a conference table in the Foundation
building in Cary. The building was erected on land donated by the Baptist State
Convention, whose staff office building is across the parking lot.
Persons establishing a trust
can typically enjoy capital gains tax savings, secure an income for themselves
and gain favorable income tax treatment. A single trust can support multiple
The purpose of the
Foundation has not changed in 90 years, but laws have changed and new vehicles
that benefit both donors and institutions have arisen.
The Foundation has expanded
into church fund management. Churches with funds beyond what they need for
operating can invest that money with the Foundation and enjoy favorable returns
without the worry and hassle of managing the funds themselves. And the money is
available to the church with 30 days notice.
In longer term investments,
churches are starting endowments with funds designated for missions,
scholarships or the cemetery, etc., Overby said. “The church can control the
investment but they can’t pull the principle back so the next generation can’t
pull the money for a new roof or to pave the parking lot.”
The Foundation cautions new
donors not to be so specific in designating the funds’ use that they will
become impractical in 100 years. With even moderate earnings, an endowment may
grow beyond the vision of its donor and if it is too severely limited earnings
may be restricted beyond being useable.
The Foundation charges a
management fee for the assets in its control.
The fee is one-half percent
for churches, and one percent annually for individual endowments. The
Cooperative Program funds about seven percent of the Foundation’s budget.
You need a will
Fewer than one-third of
persons have a will that directs distribution of their estate upon their death,
That means they are trusting
the state to know and carry out their wishes, which is impossible. Warf
encourages every Christian to create a will and to at least tithe his or her
estate to Christian work.
“From a Christian
perspective you haven’t taken care of your family; you’ve given up any
potential opportunity to give to your church or other Christian ministries when
you don’t have a will,” Overby said.
Even churches that are
disbanding have turned to the Foundation to handle their assets and to utilize them
for new work.
In April 2009 the Foundation
launched North Carolina Baptist Financial Services to provide loans to churches
affiliated with the Baptist State Convention.
The Convention made an
initial investment into the loan pool, which was also opened to individuals
purchasing certificates of participation.
With 26 loans approved for
$15.6 million, the new venture has “probably gone better than we could have
anticipated,” Warf said.
While the Foundation is
celebrating its past, Warf is excited because the future holds “so much
potential as more people are taking seriously their estate stewardship
Foundation leaders emphasize
that estate planning is for everyone, not just for those with large assets.
doesn’t matter how much you have, just be a good steward of whatever it is,”
said Overby. “When you bring it all together, it is significant.”
“Imagine the last 20 years
in your church,” Warf said.
“What if all those good
people you knew and loved who have gone on to their reward had left a tithe of
their estate to the church? Where would you be today?
“Think about 20 years from
now. You can do something about that.”