A financial asset donation made to a non-profit group or institution in the form of investment funds or other property that has a stated purpose at the bequest of the donor. Most endowments are designed to keep the principal amount intact while using the investment income from dividends for charitable efforts.
Endowments provide ongoing benefits for those that receive them by earning a market rate of interest while keeping the core endowment principal intact to fund future years of scholarships, or whatever efforts the donor sought to fund. In some cases, a certain percentage of the assets are allowed to be used each year, so the amount pulled out of the endowment could be a combination of interest income and principal. The ratio of principal to income would change year to year based on prevailing market rates.
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