For this fiscal year, which began on July 1, Council designated $45,000 to match donations to the Endowment Fund. The Endowment Fund Board determined that these matching funds would be applied only to temporarily restricted fund donations from July 1 to September 30, 2019, with the objective of helping these funds achieve restricted status. These matching funds were quickly expended on July 1 thanks to the generosity of SOT donors.
Considering this high level of generosity and the original intent of the matching funds, the Endowment Fund Board requested and Council allocated additional matching funds that allowed four of the six funds still in temporarily restricted status as of July 2, 2019, to reach permanently restricted status! In addition, SOT will continue matching donations to the two remaining temporarily restricted funds—the Future of Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Endowment Fund and the Dr. William M. Baird Travel Award Fund—until September 30, 2019, up to the point that they reach permanent status. Thank you to the donors for their enthusiastic support of the Endowment Fund!
For those of you a little less familiar with the Endowment Fund, or who would like a little insight into how the Endowment Funds are used and the origin of the matching program, the SOT Endowment Fund is a family of Mission and Named Funds that help advance the science of toxicology by providing financial support for the Society’s strategies and programs.
Since its creation in 2006, the Endowment Fund has provided support to the Society to pursue its Strategic Priorities, especially through the Mission Funds (i.e., the Education Mission Fund, the Global Activities Mission Fund, and the Strategic Priorities Mission Fund), which are managed by Council and have provided funding support for components of the Society’s strategic plans during the last two decades. The Mission Funds have supported activities such as the Undergraduate Diversity Program and travel for scientists from developing countries to the SOT meeting, IUTOX CTDC and ICT meetings, and other major toxicology conferences. The Mission Funds are of great importance, as these funds are used by Council to bolster programs and initiatives that need seed money or extra support.
In addition to the three Mission Funds, the Endowment Fund is composed of almost 50 restricted Named Funds. Managed mainly by SOT Regional Chapters, Special Interest Groups, and Specialty Sections, most of these Named Funds are engaged in recognizing the achievements of students and postdoctoral scholars, encouraging diversity in toxicology, and providing support to scholars from developing countries to participate in US-based toxicology events. The Named Funds support important aspects of the SOT Strategic Plan, such as developing a robust pipeline of toxicologists and facilitating career development, but there are restrictions on how these funds can be used, as each was created with a specific priority or objective in mind, which limits their ability to be used to support broader Society initiatives.
Several years ago, Council instituted a matching program to stimulate the growth of the Endowment Fund, with the intent of assisting individual funds in achieving permanently restricted status—a status that would allow the fund to continue to support the purpose for which it was established. Since the establishment of the matching program, Council annually assesses the status of SOT programs and initiatives (including new priorities and objectives) and the Endowment Fund to determine if matching funds are available and would benefit the Society’s mission. The matching program has been highly successful since its creation as all but a few of the Named Funds have attained permanently restricted status. At the same time, Council has noticed an imbalance in the use of the matching funds: of the $1,422,452 in matching funds provided by Council through fiscal year 2018–2019, $1,059,053 has been used to match donations to the Named Funds. While this provides great support to the priorities of the Named Funds and thus the Society’s efforts to recognize and assist students and early career and diverse toxicologists, it has limited the funds available to support other SOT initiatives related to more intangible objectives, such as enhancing the Society’s communication efforts and the skills of the SOT members.
Therefore, in consideration of focusing on some of the Strategic Priorities in the 2019–2023 plan—priorities determined through surveys and consultations with the SOT membership—Council has elected to suspend matching funds for fiscal year 2020–2021. This is not a decision to permanently terminate the matching fund program. Council will continue to assess the strength of all the Society’s programs and initiatives each year and will allocate funding where it will best benefit the Society, its members, and the mission it serves.