THE ENDOWMENT

Over 50 million people are trafficked or enslaved in the world today. Trafficking is lucrative, growing, and remains one of the top three criminal industries, and yet:

Anti-trafficking work remains underfunded.

Trafficking is profitable and highly funded. Anti-trafficking work is underfunded. This lack of funding slows the fight against trafficking, including the identification of trafficked victims, delivery of aftercare services, and prosecution of criminals.

Anti-trafficking funding is often unpredictable—impeding growth. 

Predictable revenue and a solid financial base empowers Unseen to scale programs and grow the reach of anti-trafficking work globally.

Purpose

Unseen's endowment was established to provide a predictable revenue stream to sustain and grow Unseen's mission of accelerating the fight against human trafficking and its root causes. 

Together, with strategic funders, anti-trafficking partners, and talented staff, we are building a sustainable and growing counter-trafficking movement to make impact for years to come.

Invest Today

Frequently Asked Questions

Tax Information

- What is the 40% North Dakota tax credit?

If you’re a ND taxpayer, you may be able to claim a credit of 40% on a minimum donation of $5,000 to a qualified endowment through the North Dakota Charitable Income Tax Credit. This is in addition to savings you receive on your federal tax return by itemizing charitable donations. 

An individual who makes a charitable contribution of at least $5,000 for the tax year to the Unseen Endowment Fund is allowed a North Dakota state income tax credit equal to 40% of the contribution, up to a maximum credit of $10,000 (or $20,000, if married filing a joint return). Any unused portion of the credit may be carried over and used on subsequent tax years’ returns for up to three years.  In addition to the North Dakota state income tax credit, the contribution also qualifies for a federal income tax deduction. The federal charitable contribution deduction is equal to the amount of the contribution less the North Dakota state income tax credit or any other state credit that the taxpayer receives or expects to receive in return.

Learn more here, or visit FM Area Foundation.

- Can you give me an example of how the North Dakota tax credit works?

Example: A married individual who resides in North Dakota with $650,000 of taxable income for tax year 2021, files married filing jointly, and makes a $50,000 contribution to the Unseen Endowment Fund during the year would be allowed a North Dakota state credit of $20,000 (40% of $50,000 = $20,000) on his/her North Dakota income tax return. The taxpayer would also be allowed a federal tax deduction of $30,000 ($50,000 - $20,000 = $30,000) on his/her federal return.  This deduction would reduce that individual’s federal income tax by $11,100 (37% of $30,000 = $11,100). As a result of these tax savings, the actual cost of the $50,000 contribution would only be $18,900 ($50,000 - $20,000 - $11,100 = $18,900).

If the married individual in the above example contributed the $50,000 to Unseen’s Operating Fund rather than the Endowment Fund, the North Dakota state income tax savings would be reduced from $20,000 to $1,450 because the individual would receive a $50,000 deduction on his/her North Dakota return rather than a credit, which would translate to state tax savings of $1,450 (2.9% of $50,000 = $1,450).  Because the individual receives no North Dakota income tax credit in this instance, the individual would also be allowed to deduct the full $50,000 contribution on his/her federal return, which would translate to federal tax savings of $18,500 (37% of $50,000 = $18,500).  As such, the actual cost of a $50,000 contribution to the operating fund would be $30,050 ($50,000 - $18,500 - $1,450 = $30,050).

A tax benefit could be realized in either case if appreciated stock with a fair market value of at least $5,000 were donated in lieu of cash.  The tax savings would be in the form of being allowed a charitable deduction equal to the fair market value of the stock without having to pay federal or state income tax on the stock’s appreciation in value. For example, if stock were sold for $50,000 that was purchased for $5,000 over a year ago by the individual in the above, the combined federal capital gains and federal net investment income tax owed would be $10,710 (23.8% of $45,000 = $10,710).  If the stock were donated instead, all of the above tax benefits would be realized without having to pay the $10,710 in federal income tax or any state income tax on what would otherwise be considered $45,000 of taxable income.

If the married individual in the above example resided in Minnesota instead of North Dakota, the individual wouldn’t receive a tax credit on his/her Minnesota income tax return for making a contribution to the endowment fund, but would receive the benefit of the deduction on both his/her federal and Minnesota return.  On the Minnesota return, for a cash contribution, this would result in tax savings of $4,925 (9.85% of $50,000 = $4,925) and result in a total federal and state tax benefit of $23,425 ($18,500 + $4,925 = $23,425).  As a result of these tax savings, the actual tax cost of the $50,000 cash contribution would be $26,575 ($50,000 - $23,425 = $26,575).  These tax savings would apply to a $50,000 cash contribution made to the Endowment Fund or the Operating Fund.

Learn more here, or visit FM Area Foundation.

Giving Options

- What are the ways I can give to the Unseen Endowment?

Donations can be made online, and also by check, stock, crypto currency, will or estate plan, and money transfer. Please see FAQs below, for detail on each.

- Where can I send a check?

Checks can be made out to Unseen Endowment Fund and mailed to: 409 7th St. S, Fargo, ND 58103.

- How can I make an online contribution?

Online contributions can be made at The Unseen Endowment Fund

- How can I donate crypto currency?

Contact Eric Wilkie, Executive Director at FM Area Foundation: 701-234-0756 or eric@areafoundation.org if interested in stock or crypto currency transfers. 

- How can I donate stock?

This form can be used by your financial institution to initiate the transfer process to the Unseen Endowment Fund. The form needs to be filled out with the following information:

  • Account Name: F-M Area Foundation
  • Agency Fund: Unseen Endowment Fund
  • Account Number: 62-0120-01-4

Once the form has been filled out, and the financial institution has initiated the stock transfer, please contact Eric Wilkie, Executive Director at FM Area Foundation (701-234-0756; eric@areafoundation.org) so he can let FM Area Foundation and Bell Bank know that a transfer is coming. Once the transfer is received by Bell, the gift is considered “made” by you, the funder. At that time, you will be receipted with the date the stock was received by FM Area Foundation and, the description of the gift (for example, 50 shares of XXX stock.) Once the gift is received, Bell will sell the stock and the proceeds will be the amount that is added to the fund.  However, you will be able to use the receipt as documentation for the gift on the date it was made for the value of the gift. Please note that they don’t include the sales proceeds as the value because typically there is a lag of a day or two for the sale to settle and it may have a different value than the day it was made.

For further information contact Eric Wilkie, Executive Director at FM Area Foundation: 701-234-0756 or eric@areafoundation.org

- Where can I send a bank transfer?

Yes, Unseen’s partners work closely with governments and law enforcement on investigations, raids, and prosecutions.

  • Receiving Institution Account Number: 41-0510-01-4
  • Account Title/Registration: FM Area Foundation Agency Fund
  • Contact Name at Charitable Organization: Greg Diehl
  • Telephone Number for Contact: 701-234-0756
  • Name of Receiving Institution: Bell Bank
  • DTC Number: 74-2102-01-5

- Can I give via my will or estate plan?

Yes, future gifts to Unseen’s Endowment Fund can be designated in a will or other estate plan. For further information contact Eric Wilkie, Executive Director at FM Area Foundation: 701-234-0756 or eric@areafoundation.org

About the Endowment 

- What is an endowment?

An endowment is a pool of donated money intended to provide a reliable stream of income for charitable or educational purposes over the long term. Endowment funds are invested by professional investment managers, and a portion of a fund’s value is typically paid out each year to that fund’s nonprofit, i.e., to Unseen. Endowment fund managers follow strict investment guidelines that strive to yield a targeted return while avoiding too much risk. Unseen's endowment was established to provide a predictable revenue stream to help sustain Unseen's mission of fighting human trafficking and its root causes. Unseen’s endowment donations—or “principal”—will never be touched. Only the interest on principal shall be spent. This means the principal will continue increasing over time.

- Why should I make an endowment gift to Unseen?

  • Anti-trafficking is underfunded. Traffickers have stronger networks and are better funded than anti-traffickers. This issue slows down identification of trafficked victims, delivery of aftercare services, and prosecution of criminals. Tackling this requires increased funds to hire more staff who can provide services to vulnerable people, including providing healthcare, food, clean water, vocational training, education, job opportunities, and more. It also requires adding more staff and technology to investigate crimes, collect victim evidence, and prosecute criminals in a way that leads to high conviction rates and consequences that disincentivize trafficking.
  • Anti-trafficking funding is not long-term oriented enough. Anti-trafficking success needs two types of funders: (1) supporters who fund daily operations, and (2) supporters who fund endowments producing predictable interest income and a rising principal base. This 2nd category of supporter is much rarer than the 1st category, so a pioneering opportunity exists. Predictable revenue and a solid financial base is arguably the way for a nonprofit like Unseen to attract and retain high caliber talent to execute a complex array of partner projects.
  • Unseen’s model is effective and ripe for long-term funding. It includes systems, a network of creatives producing marketing content, and a team of project managers working with 25+ anti-trafficking partners producing thoughtful fundraising materials. These materials help partners serve more people significantly beyond what would be possible without such a partnership.

- How does Unseen benefit from endowed gifts?

An endowment helps ensure that Unseen can maintain its operations over the long run, protected from temporary declines in donation levels, disruptions in the economy, and unanticipated expenses. It offers a reliable source of annual revenue, as mentioned earlier. Endowment fund growth often has the corollary benefit of growth in the operating budget, and vice versa. In other words, an organization often grows at a faster pace when its endowment fund grows because it tends to trigger increased donations in the organization’s annual operating budget as well, and vice versa.

- What future is Unseen building through its endowment?

  • Partners’ financial strength. The future we’re building through an endowment is not about increasing our partner portfolio size or the number of services delivered to partners. Rather, our goal is to increase our anti-trafficking partners’ financial strength by delivering thoughtful products and services that can help them drive higher revenue, higher net income, and/or lower operating expenses.
  • More staff. Raising partners’ financial strength requires Unseen to hire and retain an increased number of quality staff capable of engaging successfully with NGO executives, trained operations staff members, and a skilled network of creative contractors.
  • A more hopeful world. Partners’ financial growth will create a more hopeful world where trafficking exploiters are stopped, vulnerable people have livelihoods, and survivors can pursue lives of freedom. We believe this approach will make a dent in trafficking. This is what our endowment is about.

- May donors direct how gifts are used?

No, donors cannot direct specific use because all gifts are designated for the general operating budget of Unseen. Donors interested in restricted gifts may contact Unseen’s CEO who can bring requests to the Unseen board of directors.

- May Unseen spend endowment distributions in ways other than as directed by a donor?

At this time, all disbursements from the Unseen Endowment Fund will go toward Unseen’s general operating budget and not specific programs or initiatives. Donors requesting specific use of their gifts may contact Unseen’s CEO and board of directors for consideration.

- Will donors receive regular updates on the status of their endowments? Who writes these updates?

Yes. They will receive an annual update on the total distribution to Unseen, along with Unseen’s annual report. The annual update will be written and delivered to donors by the CEO in coordination with the FM Area Foundation.

- What's an example of how an Unseen endowment gift would work?

When a donor gives to our endowment, FM Area foundation records and deposits the donation in the Unseen Endowment Fund account, notifies Unseen of the donation, and issues a tax receipt to the donor. FM Area Foundation shall issue a 4.25% distribution of the total Unseen Endowment Fund annually.  

- How are an endowment’s distributions calculated?

The FM Area Foundation currently distributes 4.25%. Any fund may request a larger distribution on any given year, with the understanding that the overage would be repaid to the endowment fund the following year.

FM Area Foundation’s nonprofit agency endowment fund distributions are sent out in mid-March of each year. In any given year, if we decide we would prefer to put the distribution back into the endowment fund instead of receiving a distribution check, we can let FM Area Foundation know and they’ll do so.

The distribution amount is calculated in the following manner:

  • The end-of-year fund balance is calculated by averaging the previous 12 quarter rolling fund balances (or however many quarters the fund has been in existence up to 12 quarters). This helps even out the highs and lows of the market that may have occurred in the fund’s recent history. So the end-of-year calculated fund balance is not the actual end-of-year fund balance but rather the average of the end-of-quarter fund balances of the previous 12 quarters.
  • Once the end-of-year fund balance has been calculated, the Foundation’s “spend rate” is applied to the calculated balance. FM Area Foundation’s board of directors approves the spend rate each year. For 2022, the spend rate is 4.5%. The spend rate is determined by examining current and future market performance and expectations while staying within the confines of the ND UPMIFA (Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act) statute (ND Century Code Chapter 59-21). Over the past 7 years, the spend rate has slowly increased over time from 3.5% to the current rate of 4.5%.

- Is it possible that an endowment won’t make a distribution?

Yes. Unseen could choose not to take a distribution one year and reinvest those earnings back into the fund. However, Unseen can count on (and budget for) a minimum of a 4.25% annual distribution.

- Do endowments support fundraising operations?

They can, yes. Distributions are unrestricted unless the Unseen Board of Directors decides to approve a restricted donation (extremely rare).

- What aspects of Unseen's program do endowments support?

All areas of Unseen’s program will be supported by the endowment fund.

- Are there endowment naming opportunities?

Not at this time. All gifts given to the Unseen Endowment Fund will be under that name. Donors wanting to set up additional endowment funds under a new name can contact Unseen’s CEO.

- Why should I give an endowment gift over a gift to help with immediate operating needs, and vice-versa?

Anti-trafficking impact is achieved through two types of vital funders: those who fund daily operations, and those who fund endowments—producing reliable income to scale long-term work.

Standard donations provide significant support now for Unseen’s current operational needs. Endowment donations provide a bit of support now, but provide significant support over time. Standard donations can function now as a cash reserve. Endowment donations function as an immovable foundation for fulfilling Unseen’s vision of reducing human trafficking globally. Both are important—keeping Unseen strong year after year AND strong in perpetuity.

- Are endowments taxed?

No. Accrued earnings and distribution payouts of the Unseen endowment fund are tax-free because Unseen as a nonprofit is exempt from income tax payments.

- How is the endowment invested?

Unseen’s endowment assets, held by FM Area Foundation, are invested and managed by Bell Bank’s wealth management department.

- Who manages the endowment?

The FM Area Foundation. FM Area Foundation is a nonprofit, community foundation located close to Unseen’s headquarters in Fargo, ND. They manage 400+ charitable funds and nearly $100 million in assets.

- Why should a donor give an endowment to a small nonprofit like Unseen rather than to, say, a university with a large endowment?

What type of person does a donor want to help? A needy or non-needy person? Endowments of cultural organizations (arts, etc) serve an important purpose, but it’s worth noting that cultural organizations may not always target the neediest members of society. Colleges and universities do target large numbers of under-resourced people and have clear societal benefits. However, educational endowments are also often used to offset high tuition rates, subsidize research, and build new buildings. A common critique is that colleges are not doing enough to make the price truly affordable and enroll higher numbers of low-income students who need more help than others. If a donor highly values helping the most needy in society, nonprofits like Unseen are laser-focused on expanding freedom and opportunities to the world’s most vulnerable people.

With rare exception, most larger organization endowments are relatively small compared to the size of its operating budget and debt load. Larger organizations can’t realistically count on their endowment income to significantly support their operations. This is not the case for small nonprofits like Unseen; Unseen has no debt and its operating budget is small. So there’s real potential that a modest endowment could significantly support Unseen’s operations, and make a difference in the counter-trafficking movement.

- Can you give an idea of the proportion of endowment dollars to be distributed by category at Unseen?

Approximately 70% of Unseen's endowment distribution will go toward its program services, and the remaining amount will go toward its administrative and fundraising activities.

- Why is my individual endowment gift important to Unseen?

Endowment gifts (especially ROI from these gifts) are vitally important to Unseen because they represent one of only two financial support sources. The second form of support comes through private donations fueling Unseen’s annual operating budget.

- Do you have a printable pdf that gives an overview of Unseen’s endowment?

Yes. Please click here for a 2-sided pdf to share with others. It links to this webpage for further information.

Still have questions?

Email Than Baardson, CEO & Co-Founder, Unseen: than@weareunseen.org