by Lisa P. Davidson, VAF Treasurer
VAF has always been fortunate to have careful financial stewardship and the support of its members. In recent years, our traditionally modest means have been transformed into a position of fiscal strength, due to the support of an extremely generous anonymous donor. Just this spring VAF received another $100,000 donation, the eighth from this amazing benefactor. Several years of well-attended and well-run conferences have also contributed to our financial health.
The VAF Board, as guided by the Finance Committee, has instituted an Investment Policy Statement with the primary objective of “preserving the long-term, real purchasing power of our assets while providing a relatively predictable and growing stream of annual distributions in support of the VAF operating budget.” In plain language, we want to maintain our nest egg for the future while increasing Board spending in key areas such as student support, conferences, and fieldwork. Currently VAF’s assets are placed in several Vanguard index funds. Starting with VAF’s 2017 budget, 4.5% of the net value of assets, averaged over the previous twelve quarters, is distributed to the operating budget. For the 2018 budget, this added $31,750 of income to a total operating budget of $106,740.
The new income stream has allowed VAF to expand its operating budget in important ways. Because VAF conferences are the heart of our organization, our operating budget now includes additional financial support for conference fieldwork and for conference planning services. VAF has also increased the pool of funding for the Ambassador Awards and Simpson Presenter Awards. In recognition of the success of the 2016 Durham conference, VAF made donations to Mendenhall Homeplace and Preservation Durham to support their ongoing work. Similarly, Preservation Utah received a donation after the 2017 Utah conference to create a “VAF Legacy Program” promoting field documentation through workshops for local partners.
Beyond conferences, initiatives such as the Orlando Ridout V Fieldwork Fellowship, the VAF special book series with University of Tennessee Press, and Buildings & Landscapes have received budget increases. Members with questions about the details of VAF’s operating budget, investment accounts, or any other financial matters are welcome to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).