Money is often donated to the Museum for its ongoing support. Frequently, the donation is spent quickly for a specific purpose but sometimes it’s placed in an endowment fund where it’s invested and the earnings are used by the Museum. Most endowments are structured so that the principal amount is kept intact while the investment income is available for use. They can be set up to release part of the principal each year, allowing the donation to have a larger impact than using only investment earnings. Endowments often come with restrictions on their use.
The museum has four endowment funds:
- The Richards-Smith Endowment, which is unrestricted and can be used to support any need that the board designates.
- The Niedrich Endowment, which is restricted to support of museum rolling stock collection
- The Kagy Endowment, which is restricted to support of the Red Car/PE collection.
- The Gagnon Endowment, which is restricted to support of the operating steam program.
There is also a board-directed investment fund that is treated like an endowment. It is unrestricted; its earnings can be used as the board deems appropriate.