Many museums, as well as other cultural nonprofit institutions, often have a significant pool of assets that help to provide a portion of the funds that are expended during any given year of operation. These pools of assets, called endowments, are extremely unique and often misunderstood by the greater public. For instance, how is it possible an institution with a large endowment can appear financially healthy, yet lose money for a number of years and require staffing layoffs? In this course, students learn the characteristics of endowments, with an emphasis on the typical makeup of museum endowments, as well as the choices and decisions arts management teams and boards must make with respect to utilizing their endowments in the most efficient and effective manner possible. The course also teaches the specific formulations that determine the amount of resources that are available for use by the organization in any given year and the pluses and minuses associated with each.
Harvard Division of Continuing Education