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Foundation initiates Giving Tuesday for California Disaster Victims

By | Press Releases

Foundation initiates Giving Tuesday for California Disaster Victims
November 15, 2019
For Immediate Release

On Giving Tuesday, December 3, 2020, The Baptist Foundation of California will be encouraging individuals for help in providing funds to meet the needs of those affected by recent disasters in California. Giving Tuesday is a generosity movement began in 2012 to engage civic participation and positive social behavior.  Since its inception, Giving Tuesday has encouraged generosity among hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life and countless organizations in every country in the world. “Generosity is a fundamental value held by those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ,” said Jonathan Jarboe, president elect of the Foundation.  “Through this special ministry effort, we hope to raise significant funds from generous believers to assist those whose lives have been disrupted by the quakes, floods, and fires in our state.”

The mission of the Baptist Foundation of California is to raise, manage, and distribute funds for Baptist causes.   With financial systems in place, the sixty six year-old organization is assuring donors that 100% of their gift will be used to bring hope and assistance to those who are suffering.  The Foundation will partner with local churches, associations, and Baptist Disaster Relief to identify recipients. “It feels like California has experienced an endless stream of disasters within a very short span of time,” said Jonathan Jarboe, president elect of the Foundation.  “A trail of disruption has drastically changed the worlds of the men, women, and children across our state.”

On December 3, Giving Tuesday, Individuals will be asked, through a social media campaign,  to give a gift of $10, $50, $100, $250, or $500 to support the relief effort.  Prior to that date, a social media campaign will encourage their generosity and facilitate their giving.  A special on-line giving tab will facilitate gifts at “Often, disaster victims are forced to count their losses and begin a new life in the best way they know how,” Jarboe explained.  “Many times, options and resources are few.  The gifts received from this Giving Tuesday effort will bring comfort to these unfortunate and sometimes desperate individuals and families”.  Jarboe said, “the BFC is honored to serve Southern Baptist Churches, associations, and individuals known for their quick response to local tragedies.”  He encourages all to consider a generous contribution on Giving Tuesday, December 3, 2020.

Download this press release here!

Foundation and local church receive gift from Ventura lady

By | Press Releases

Foundation and local church recieve gift from Ventura lady
December 12, 2018
For Immediate Release

Patricia Juanita King passed away this past Spring in Ventura, California. Born in Denver, she graduated from Monroe City High School in Missouri and then obtained her teaching degree from Kirksville State Teachers College and a Masters degree in Library Science . Serving as a librarian for many years, she enjoyed reading stories to the children who would visit. Patricia was a member of Grace Baptist Church in Ventura, California since 1959 serving as a choir member and Sunday School teacher. She also volunteered hundreds of hours through Community Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and was an active member of the local garden club.

The Baptist Foundation of California has received a gift of $197,000 from the estate of Ms. Patricia King. Ms. King passed away last Spring and was a long-time member of Grace Church in Ventura, California. “The Foundation is grateful for this generous gift from Ms. King and what it will mean for the Baptist ministries we serve,” said Phil Kell, president of the Foundation. “We are honored by her generosity and her confidence in our work.” Kell said the gift will be added to the Legacy Fund held by the Foundation. The Legacy Fund was established by the Foundation’s Board to provide a mechanism for supporting the work of the Foundation and remembering the faithful Southern Baptist stewards who have made meaningful gifts from their estates to the Foundation.

Born in Denver, Ms. King graduated from Monroe City High School in Missouri. She then obtained her teaching degree and a Masters degree in Library Science from Kirksville State Teachers College. Serving as a librarian for many years, Ms. King also volunteered hundreds of hours through Community Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and was an active member of the local garden club.

In addition to her gift to the Foundation, Ms. King also left a significant gift to her local church. A member of Grace Church since 1959, she served as a choir member and Sunday School teacher. Her pastor, Nick Acker, said, “We are incredibly blessed by Patricia’s generosity! I believe her gift will continue to bless Ventura for decades to come!” “The generosity of Ms. King through her estate plan is a testament to her commitment to the Lord and Kingdom service during her lifetime,” commented Kell. “Her last act of stewardship will encourage others and continue to bless ministries into the future.”The Baptist Foundation of California exists to raise, manage and distribute resources for Kingdom causes. It is a Cooperative Program ministry of the California Southern Baptist Convention.

Download this press release here.

New Locations, New Name, New Staff

By | News

California Baptist Foundation has relocated to two new offices, changed its name, and hired several new staff members, all as a part of a board authorized plan to relocate, rebrand, and restructure.

A Relocation of the Foundation’s office, which has been based in Fresno for 65 years, is now complete.  Philip Kell, the Foundation’s President says, “Our new offices, one in the Gateway Seminary building in Ontario, and the other in the Convention’s Ministry Resource Center in Fresno, will position us to better serve Southern Baptists throughout California.  We are committed to serving our churches, their ministries and members.  These new locations will allow us to be more in tune with their needs and give us more face time in responding to those needs.”

A Re-branding campaign is introducing a new name and logo.  Since its founding, the Foundation has been known as California Baptist Foundation.  But, in August the foundation’s board of directors approved a name change to the Baptist Foundation of California.  “It is a subtle change, but very intentional,” says Kell.  “We considered a new name without Baptist, Foundation or California in it.  But, after a lengthy study and much prayer, we knew we wanted to keep a strong connection to Baptists and our California history.  We are proud to be known as the Baptist Foundation of California.”

In addition to a name change, a new logo is intended to provide a new face for the Foundation’s values and service.  “Though we are certainly maintaining the integrity and strength of which the Foundation is known, as the organization grows, we want our new logo to be a continual and fresh reminder of the values we cherish and the professional service we provide,” said Kell. “A new name and logo will position us to better communicate our mission to reach and serve even more churches, individuals and institutions.”

The board of directors also authorized the restructuring the Foundation to accommodate new and improved services to be provided by the organization.  That expanded growth and emphasis has necessitated the hire of new staff members to strengthen the team.  Among those staff members recently added to the leadership team are Tom Jones and Harold Woodall… no strangers to California Southern Baptists.

Jones comes to the foundation from his position as the sixth president of Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.  Since he began in 2012, the University has experienced enrollment, academic and athletic advancements, several building renovations the construction of a new residence hall and golf driving range.  In addition, the campus footprint was expanded by 42 acres to a total of almost 250 acres and several large gifts were consummated including a recent $3 million estate gift.

Prior to serving at Williams, Jones served as the Vice President of Advancement for Gateway Seminary for 12 years.  He has also served in the advancement departments for other institutions including California Baptist University.  “Tom brings years of experience, a lifetime of wonderful relationships and some great managerial skills to our team,” says Kell. Jones began his duties December 1.

Woodall comes to the Foundation with more than 30 years of experience in the commercial lending business.  For 10 years he was in charge of lending operations for Ministry Partners, a Southern California financial organization which specializes in church lending.  Prior to that time Woodall worked for Bank of America, California Baptist Foundation and other commercial lending firms.

“Harold is one of the best church lending specialists, if not the best church lending specialist, in the country,” said Kell.  “He knows the church lending business, and he is always focused on the best interests of the church. That is the primary reason we added him to our team.  We exist to serve churches, their members and their institutions.”  Woodall started work this past August.

In addition to these, the Foundation has also added Jonathan Maffei, a Trust Operations Paralegal; Christina Martinez, a Church Lending Assistant; and Bradley Frailey, a senior accountant.

After 25 years of service to the Foundation, Kell is confident in the future ahead.  “The Lord has blessed our service to California Southern Baptists and we are confident these new changes will advance our efforts even more,” he said.  “It is a privilege to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as we assist committed believers in their stewardship of God’s providence.”

The ABC’s of Investing for Churches

By | Church Investing

Let’s face it.  Most of us do not have the expertise to invest our church’s funds without the help of an investment professional.  But, when that investment professional starts talking about alphas, betas, basis points and covered calls most of us start thinking about what we are going to have for lunch.  I know.  I have been working in the institutional investment world for over 25 years, and I still cringe when I have to review a 20 page investment report, or listen to a 20 minute summary of the markets.

But, after 25 years of reading and listening, there are some things I have learned about financial advisors and investment managers that might be helpful to you.

  1. Selling – The advisor’s job is to make his firm look good and sell you something.
  2. Sleight of Hand – Advisors know how to distract you with data while hiding poor results.
  3. Sizzle – Many advisors specialize more in sizzle than in substance.

I am really not trying to be critical.  I am just telling you what I have experienced over and over again in my 25 years of working with advisors and fund managers.  So, while I listen to them and read their reports, I always keep these three things in mind.  They are salesmen.  They will always try to paint a good picture of what they can do for you.  And their companies spend millions of dollars to prepare reports to dazzle and amaze you, while distracting you from looking at any negative information about your investments or their performance.

Attorneys call this kind of sales pitch “puffery” and financial professionals are experts at puffery.

So, I have learned to focus on three primary things when investing church funds:

  1. Allocations (between your chosen asset types);
  2. Benchmarks (for your chosen asset types); and
  3. Comparisons (of your returns to your chosen benchmark returns over your chosen time periods).

Allocations are first.

The first thing any good financial advisor is going to do for you is evaluate your risk tolerance and investment objectives.  Many church clients are risk adverse and just want their money in “insured” bank accounts.  While this is a very safe approach to investing, it severely limits the returns you can expect to achieve, and I have doubts it would satisfy the master in Jesus’ parable of the talents.  Yes, you should at least put the money in a bank to earn interest, but the parable teaches we are expected to do more.

It is prudent to keep some funds in insured bank accounts, especially operating funds or cash reserves.  But, if your church has long term savings, or endowment accounts you should really consider investing a portion of those funds in stocks, bonds or other alternative type investments.  History has shown that over time your investments will have a much better return if you do.  And, the law requires you to diversify these types of institutional funds.  (Can you say, “Uniform Investment of Institutional Funds Act or UPMIFA?”).

If you are responsible for investing church funds, you must take the time to work through this allocation process thoughtfully and prayerfully with others on your team, and your financial advisor.  And remember, you can always change the allocation model for any of your funds.  In fact, you should review your allocations periodically with your advisor to ensure each fund’s asset allocation remains appropriate under your changing circumstances.

Allocations are first.  Benchmarks are second.

A benchmark is nothing more than a standard of reference for measuring performance results.

The investment industry has dozens and dozens of benchmarks that are used to measure the performance of various types of investments.  One of the most familiar is the S & P 500 which is nothing more than the value of a basket of 500 widely held US stocks.  There are benchmarks for many classes of stocks, such as small US companies, large US companies, international companies, emerging markets, and others that are a mixture of various types of stocks and/or bonds.

Choosing your benchmarks carefully is important, to ensure that each benchmark closely resembles the types of investments you have chosen in the asset allocation of each of your funds.  You want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples when you look at your investment reports.

I have seen investment advisors choose a more favorable benchmark to make his returns look better.  Without good benchmarks you really have no real way to evaluate the returns of your funds.

Allocations are first.  Benchmarks are second.  Comparisons are third.

When you are reviewing an investment report you should always compare your current asset allocation with your target allocation.  Over time gains, distributions and other transactions can increase one asset type in a fund and decrease another.  A fund should be rebalanced to your chosen allocation at least once a year.

Next, double check your benchmarks for each fund to make sure they are correct.  Whether by accident or intention I have found statements with the wrong benchmarks displayed.  Again, you want to be comparing apples to apples.

Once you have verified that your allocations and your benchmarks are right, you are ready to compare your actual returns (after fees) to their related benchmarks over appropriate periods of time.  If your returns after all fees are below your benchmarks, your advisor or manager is underperforming. That is the very definition of underperformance.

A good investment report will include the rate of return realized for each investment in the portfolio over several periods of time.  The rate of return should be shown in the performance section of the report.  Normally you should see the rate of return for “the month to date” (MTD), “year to date” (YTD), 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and 7 or 10 years.  There may also be a column for “since inception”.

These numbers tell you each investment’s rate of return over the specified period of time.  If your investment report does not give you the rates of return ask your advisor if the report can be modified to do so.  Without the rate of return being shown on the report, you can only guess at how your investments are doing.

You also need to determine what period or periods of time you are going to focus on as you evaluate your returns.  Most of us are investing for the long haul, and no advisor hits a homerun every year.  So, rather than focus on a single year, or even two years, focus at 3, 5 or 7 year returns.  This really tells you how the advisor is doing over time.  With the endowments we manage I am more concerned with the 7 or even 10 year returns.

Too many investors fall into the trap of firing a manager after one bad year, and hiring the manager who had the highest return last year, only to find the new manager is low this year, and the old manager is high this year.  That is called chasing returns.  It rarely works, and it could result in additional fees.

Once you know what your rates of return are for each component of your portfolio, you are ready to compare those returns against the benchmark returns for the same periods.  Your returns after fees should at least be equal to the appropriate benchmark.  Any advisor or manager who fails to hit their benchmarks over time is underperforming and you may need to replace them.  And make sure you are looking at returns after fees.  Ask for a fee schedule so you will know how much you are paying for your manager’s services.  Many managers never clearly disclose the fees they are charging.

Finally, be careful about comparing your returns to the returns of other organizations with different allocations and different asset classes.  If you are invested 50 percent in stocks and 50 percent in bonds, your returns should be different than someone who is invested 70 percent in stocks and 30 percent in bonds.  Learn to compare apples to apples.

Once you learn to focus on Allocations, Benchmarks and Comparisons, you can quickly look at your investment reports to see how your investments are really doing while your advisor drones on and on about alphas, betas, basis points and covered calls.  And you will have good, pointed questions to ask your advisor about your actual returns and allocations.

So, don’t be overwhelmed or distracted by the puffery.  Focus on the things that matter and learn to ask good questions.  You will be amazed good pointed questions about allocations, benchmarks and comparisons will cut through all the smoke they are puffing, and keep you focused on performance.