In fundraising circles, we're taught that "annual giving helps keep the lights on, but endowments ensure your long-term viability." We're blessed in northeast Indiana that The Lutheran Foundation has been helping area Lutheran schools secure their future with an endowment-services matching-grant program since the 2009-2010 school year. Basing the amounts each year per school on a fixed amount, plus student enrollment, The Lutheran Foundation challenges schools to match, $1 for $1, new gifts to the school's endowment. Now that SGO Scholarship efforts have slowed down a bit, we want to direct everyone's attention to the endowment-services match.How do endowments help? Use the 5-percent rule: if a school has an endowment of $100,000, for example, then the school could earn $5,000 ($100,000 x .05) every year, forever. Move that example to a $1,000,000 endowment, and the school could enjoy an extra $50,000 in annual funds without doing anything else. Period. Think about that. What could your school do with an extra $50,000 a year?And, should investments in the fund grow more than 5 percent, the annual benefit can grow, too. And on that note, The Lutheran Foundation manages its matching portion of the endowment, and offers to manage all of a school's endowment at rates and benefits hard to beat anywhere else.So why bother to write about the endowment-services grant? Speaking frankly, not every school is attempting to meet the match. Fourteen of the 17 schools are participating, but only 63 percent of the total available funds are being taken. I just hate to giving up "free" money.Looking at the numbers since 2009-2010, more than $700,000 in matching funds have been, as our boss, Mark Muehl, says, "left on the table." That's $55,000 a year lost for our area schools. Forever.Curious if your school fully meets the match? Wonder how you can help? I'm willing to wager that your principal and school board chair would love to talk to you about it. If not, talk to me about it.P.S. Will bequests to the endowment are a great way to perpetuate your current annual support. More on that in a future e-newsletter.