A small group of clergy discuss wisdom shared by the Rev. Lovett Weems at a June session of the Financial Leadership Academy. John Coleman photo

Mid-Atlantic Foundation cited for excellence in managing investments

The Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation in October became the first faith-based community foundation to earn Fiduciary Standard of Excellence for Investment Stewards certification from the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX), an independent certification organization.

“As our assets under management approach $100 million, this third-party certification of our sound investment practices and procedures is very gratifying,” said Jack Brooks, MAUMF executive director. “Churches choose to invest with us first because they know we understand their ministry, but it’s just as important that they know we follow the best practices in the industry.”

MAUMF says it pools church assets across a family of common funds to achieve greater diversification, more flexible asset allocation and better overall returns. Staff members “work closely with each church to make sure their investment is structured to meet their goals and their investment timeline.”

MAUMF’s screens its portfolio of “socially responsible investments” to ensure alignment with United Methodist priorities and values, according to Brooks. The foundation also reinvests half of its fees in education and consulting that it offers to all churches—not just investors—in the three annual conferences it serves: Eastern PA, Peninsula-Delaware and Baltimore-Washington.

Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation Financial Leadership Academy LogoClergy from all three conferences are participating in the foundation’s landmark 18-month Financial Leadership AcademyThey will attend the second of seven sessions Oct. 23-24 in the Baltimore area.

Certified church growth consultant and popular author and trainer Clif Christopher will teach on a subject he knows very well: Stewardship. Attendees will learn best practices for conducting stewardship campaigns, how to increase giving for mission and ministry, and how to prepare and lead churches to implement capital campaigns.

Christopher is founder and CEO of the Horizons Stewardship Company and author of The Church Money Manual: Best Practices for Finance and Stewardship, among other popular stewardship ministry books.

Meanwhile, clergy and lay teams began the new, companion Academy for Church Finances in October, attending the first session: “A Theology of Stewardship and Personal Finance.” Designed to help congregations “achieve a more robust climate of giving and responsible and effective financial practices,” the first-time academy will offer three more sessions in 2018-19, all at the Baltimore-Washington Conference Mission Resource Center in Fulton, Md.

Beyond its remarkable education efforts, the Mid-Atlantic Foundation’s CEFEX recognition is based on 21 fiduciary practices to increase long-term investment performance and decrease investment risk, while evaluating management fees, expenses and staff. The annual certification process involves a detailed review of documents, investments and procedures followed by onsite interviews with key personnel.

“Our board is pleased to be the first foundation of our kind to earn the CEFEX certification,” said Thomas Black, president of the MAUMF board. “It was a rigorous process for the board, our staff as well as our financial partners. But it sends a strong, positive message to our community and has helped us refine and improve our processes even further.”