Conservation Agreement Fund

A U.S. based non-profit protecting some of the most important conservation resources on the planet

Conservation Endowments: Frequently Asked Questions


Please tell me about your investment managers.
Aren’t endowments expensive? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on urgent needs in the present?
Shouldn’t projects be establishing endowments through national conservation trust funds in their own country?
Is it practical to fund everything through an endowment?
Are all CAF endowments permanent? Can you also manage “sinking” funds?
How much does CAF charge for endowment management?
Is there a minimum amount required to open an account?
How long does it take to establish an endowment account?

Please tell me about your investment managers.

CAF endowments are managed by the Arbor Group at UBS Financial Services. The Arbor Group provides investment management services for foundations, endowments, and high net worth families. Best known for their work globally with conservation trust funds, the Arbor Group specializes in socially and environ-mentally responsible investing. UBS is one of the world’s leading wealth management firms.

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Aren’t endowments expensive? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on urgent needs in the present?

Endowments are expensive. However, protecting biodiversity is a long-term endeavor, and as with colleg-es, universities and other permanent institutions, conservation has a need for both short and long-term funding. This is particularly true of projects involving habitat protection in developing countries. Such pro-jects have well-defined, recurrent costs including things like community benefits and patrolling that are not always well-suited to short-term funding sources. Many areas of importance to conservation are also prone to political instability which can interrupt donor contributions and put at risk projects that have taken many years and much investment to establish. Endowment funding can be critical to allowing projects to weather such hard times. An established endowment can also help to attract additional funding (e.g., lega-cy investments and bequests) and offer funders assurance of a stable and reliable investment context by providing periodic audits of project spending and performance.

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Shouldn’t projects be establishing endowments through national conservation trust funds in their own country?

Investing through a national trust can be a good choice in countries where they exist but in many areas this is not an option. Although efforts are underway to establish more national funds, experience has shown that this can take a considerable amount of time. Moreover, in many developing countries it is simply not feasible to consider establishing a dedicated endowment for an individual project due to an unstable cur-rency, a lack of suitable long-term investments, or other factors. A CAF endowment in these cases can be a very attractive alternative. By bundling endowments CAF is able to offer (at a very competitive rate) the kind of asset management that is otherwise only available to much larger institutional endowments and high net worth individuals. CAF endowments also offer other advantages, including investment in a stable currency as well as access to the U.S. stock market and tax deductible contributions from U.S. investors.

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Is it practical to fund everything through an endowment?

It is neither necessary nor practical to fund all project expenses via an endowment. However, endowments can form a very important part of an effective and diversified funding strategy particularly for projects ad-dressing intergenerational issues such as biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management.

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Are all CAF accounts permanent? Can you also manage “sinking” funds?

CAF accounts can accommodate both short and long-term funding, including permanent endowments and sinking trusts. Our partner UBS Financial Services manages investment of funds with at least a 6-12 month time horizon while grant and other program funding that is not intended to be invested is placed in a regu-lar commercial checking account held by CAF.

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How much does CAF charge for endowment management?

UBS charges CAF a flat rate of 1% per year on funds placed in our umbrella endowment account. Additional fees charged by CAF vary depending on an endowment’s size and the specific services requested by our clients. Please contact Richard Rice (RichardERice@gmail.com) at CAF for more information on fees.

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Is there a minimum amount required to open an account?

No. Each case is handled individually. That said, we charge a minimum annual fee of $1,000 for endowment management, so very small accounts may not be realistic.

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How long does it take to establish an endowment account?

Establishing an endowment account is very easy and usually requires only a few days.

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