An endowment is an investment in the future of the university. It is a permanent gift
that provides one of the most secure sources of future revenue for this university
to have leading-edge research and vital support for students, faculty and programs.
Endowments are the most lasting way a donor can give, benefiting the mission of the
university and ensuring excellence in perpetuity.
Creating an endowment
- $25,000 is the minimum endowment level at the university; endowments can be established with as little as $5,000 at other USC campuses.
- A College or School requires a minimum gift of $10 million or more for endowment.
- A Department requires a minimum gift of $3 million for endowment.
- A Center or Institute requires a minimum gift of $1 million for endowment.
- A Deanship requires a minimum gift of $5 million. Deanships help attract and retain brilliant scholars and leaders.
- A Chair requires a minimum gift of $1.5 million.
- A Distinguished Professorship requires a minimum gift of $1 million for endowment.
- A Professorship requires a minimum gift of $500,000 for endowment.
- A Carolina Scholar Award requires a minimum gift of $300,000.
- A National Merit/Achievement Scholar Award requires a minimum gift of $150,000.
- A Fellowship requires a minimum gift of $100,000.
- A Lectureship requires a minimum gift of $100,000.
- A Scholarship requires a minimum gift of $100,000 to establish an endowed scholarship
fund designated for a specific academic discipline/program with restrictions and/or
How do endowments work?
Endowment funds are managed to provide a permanent source of income to support the educational mission of the university. The endowment, a set of pooled assets, is generally composed of many individual funds and is invested in a purposeful and accountable manner in order to generate income that:
- honors the donors’ intended purposes for their gift;
- supports the operating budget of the institution; and,
- is reinvested to protect the value of the endowment against inflation.
How do I create an endowment?
Contact University Development at 803-777-1601, and we will draft a brief gift agreement
that will govern your gift according to your wishes. You may designate your endowment
for a specific purpose as long as it is consistent with university policy and state
and federal laws. Once a gift is accepted, the conditions of the gift are followed
in perpetuity. Endowments may be funded with cash, securities and deferred gifts at
How is the spending allocation determined?
Once your endowment is fully funded and invested for at least one fiscal year, an annual spending allocation will be calculated for your fund. Waiting at least one fiscal year allows your endowment to earn investment returns to support spending and increases the probability of an annual increase in the amount available to spend from your endowment. If, during the first year of eligibility, the endowed gift does not exceed the original amount, then no initial spending allocation is allowed.
The annual spending allocation is based on a predetermined rate applied to the average
balance of your endowment and is limited to available investment return. The current
spending allocation is up to 4.25 percent. The average balance of your endowment is calculated using the previous
monthly balances for up to 36 months. This averaging smooths the effects of market
fluctuations. Unused spending allocations are carried forward to be used in subsequent
years. Investment return in excess of the spending allocation is retained within the
endowment, increasing its size over time, therefore increasing the amount of support
generated for the donor’s specified program.
How does the market affect my endowment account?
Earnings added to the fund fluctuate with the markets. Although the portfolio is well diversified, some investments might occasionally lose value. The spread of the investment allocation helps compensate for losses by a particular style of investment and takes advantage of earnings realized when an investment style is in favor with the market.