Just What is the IWCS Endowment Fund?

by Allen Nemetz # 7668 — Posted 10-22-2014

The simple answer is that it is a fund established to further the purposes of the organization as stated in Article II of the IWCS Constitution, which is printed in your Membership Directory. A more complete answer would be that these purposes include wood identification, classification, collection, standardization and craftsmanship. Take a look, since there are nine detailed purposes listed in our Constitution that open a large umbrella over what we are all about. But this is really only a start in defining the fund.

The Bylaws, also in the directory, help define how the fund works. It includes who is involved and how they report to the Board of Trustees and some direction on funds management. Beyond the Bylaws, there is the booklet of Roles and Responsibilities as well as Policies and Procedures which provide some guidelines. Started in 2001, this booklet was expanded over the next several years and provides “how to” information for Oficers, Trustees and committee members. Let’s look at what this all means to the Endowment Fund.

The Bylaws define the Fund committee as having five members selected by the President-elect with approval of the Trustees. One member shall be the Immediate Past President, one the current Secretary- Treasurer and three selected from the general membership with one of those designated as the Chairman. Terms of service, replacement and meeting requirements are also spelled out. Likewise, Fund investment guidelines are outlined. Those guidelines reflect a conservative approach in an effort to protect the Fund from wide market swings. Currently the committee consists of Garry Roux (Past President), Patti Dickherber (Sec-Treas), Robert Parker, Greg Reed and myself, Allen Nemetz, as Chairman. Patti Dickherber has one vote.

A few years ago, Greg Reed wrote an article in WOW on the Fund and listed the grants and scholarships that have been made over the years in support of the goals of the Fund. But how does the ball get rolling? The committee has help from the booklet in the form of Application Guidelines. For those who are interested in seeing if they meet the requirements of the Fund, we send out a copy of the guidelines that were formalized in 2008. They cover applicants for both Scholarships and Grants in Aid and what level of detail is needed. This is needed to provide the committee with information to evaluate the merits of the application in meeting goals of the IWCS. An email request to me for a copy of the guidelines will get one sent within a few days. Anyone can apply, but non-members require an IWCS member to vouch for the applicant or application and be able to address committee questions. No IWCS assets shall financially benefit members.

So what does this all mean? Well, the Fund was established by IWCS members to further the goals of the organization. Money has been donated or designated to be invested in a special fund and held separate from other funds. Each year the dividends on the investments are available for Scholarships and Grants in Aid as stated above. It is the committee’s responsibility to review and then recommend to the Board of Trustees what of the available money should be awarded. If no requests are made or none are approved, then the dividends are folded into the principal of the fund. At the end of the next budget year the process starts over again. If monies have been awarded the Chairman includes a status of the award in the yearly report.

So how does the Fund grow? Over the years the fund has received a combination of large and small donations and major royalties from publication of books done with Forest Products Society. Many donations have been made in honor of a member who has passed and in some cases regional meetings surpluses have been moved into the fund. Recently, at the suggestion of Tom Kinney, a separate line has been added to meeting applications giving members an easy way to grow the fund while writing out a check for the event. A line has been added to membership renewals for the same purpose.

What’s the current status of the Fund? Considering the last few years of economic stagnation, our own general loss of membership and the need to raise dues, we’re just moving with the market and not adding to the principal. Also, surpluses from regional and international meetings have been needed for the general budget. So the ball is in the members’ court!

If, like me, you agree that the original concept of the Fund is valid, then we all need to do whatever we can to grow the IWCS. More members will result in a more dynamic organization that will generate the money to grow the Fund and provide the outreach that will educate more wood enthusiasts.

A recent Fund grant is a good example of the way we can help expand wood knowledge. In 2011 Jim Zoellner requested grant money be made available to help finish Vol. 2 (South America) of Dr. M. M. Grandtner’s World Dictionary of Trees. Jim saw a copy of Vol. 1, which covers North America and was so impressed that he felt this work would meet the objectives of the IWCS Endowment Fund. The committee agreed as did the Board of Trustees. As of December 2013 Vol. 2 was printed and is for sale. Although Dr. Grandtner recently passed away, we have been told work continues on Vol. 3 and not far behind are 4 & 5. The Fund does not have grant requests for these, but when completed this set will provide the most complete listing of the world’s trees. We can be proud of supporting projects such as this.

With more knowledge of the Fund, keep your eyes open for opportunities to put it to use.

Allen Nemetz, Endowment Fund Chairman as 2014