The Parsons Cemetery Perpetual Care Endowment Fund
What is a perpetual care endowment?
The Parsons Cemetery Perpetual Care Endowment Fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Eastern Shore (CFES). This is an Agency Fund type endowment wherein it has been established by a non-profit entity to create an income stream. Distributions are limited to five percent of the value of the fund averaged over three calendar years. This formula ensures the ability of the fund to make distributions in perpetuity, evens out the available distribution amount during stock market fluctuations, and allows the endowment to grow over time.
How does the perpetual care endowment help?
The CFES endowment was established following the George W. Parsons’ gift to St. Peters Church for Parsons Cemetery's perpetual care. Funding from the sale of real estate was added to endowment along along with funds from various other perpetual care gifts and funds collected as part of sales. The initial endowment was $585,000.
Since the endowment was established a percentage of all sales is contributed to the fund along with gifts, bequests, and surplus income from cemetery operations. Additional donations and perpetual care funds have been added along with cemetery earnings and the Community Foundation’s return on investment. Today the perpetual care fund is approximately $1.4M. The $1.4M endowment provides Parsons Cemetery with an annual income of $70,000.
How is the annual income managed?
In 2004, St. Peters Church determined to separate the Parsons Cemetery's management and funding from those of the Church. At that time, a new Parsons Cemetery Advisory Committee (PCAC) was formed with six voting members, three from the Church and three from the community. The PCAC reviews all income and expenses on a monthly basis and builds a budget for the coming year based on the prior years financial history, opportunities for increasing sales and interest, and unplanned maintenance expenses. When cemetery operations and maintenance exceed its own income, the PCAC draws available income funds from the endowment, the principle is unavailable. Likewise, the PCAC looks closely at trends and opportunities and may draw against the PCAC endowment income for upgrades or expansion if convinced of a return on that investment. All expenditures are closely analyzed as they directly conflict with the PCAC mission statement to grow the endowment.
Why is growing the perpetual care endowment important?
Growing the perpetual care endowment is very important as the cost of maintaining the cemetery exceeds $100,000 annually. Minimal annual maintenance includes grounds maintenance. There are 18 acres of land, most of which is filled with monuments, grave markers, and grass. As a minimum grass must be cut 13 times a season. Trash has to be removed, trees and shrubs require maintenance, and gardens require weed removal, fertilizer, and mulch. Additionally, once a year the grounds are raked from property line to property line to remove leaves and debris. Then there are property maintenance costs associated with the roads, entrances, hard landscape, the administrative building and furnishings, along with the cost of utilities, insurance, and the cemetery's information management database system. And very importantly, professional management fees.
And no, there are no other sources of income, Parsons Cemetery's maintenance, operations, and expansions are self funded through sales, endowment income, and gifts. There are no outstanding loans.
Therefore, we always welcome gifts and donations.
How can I plan a gift or make a donation?
Recently, an interested donor asked the PCAC about gifting opportunities and how their gift could be memorialized.
There are various ways for an interested donor to make a donation:
Work directly with the PCAC and Cemetery Manager in discussing memorial opportunities. Not all donors however want to be memorialized. The PCAC will not release a donor’s name unless the donor chooses to have PCAC do so. Additionally, a gift will not be memorialized without the donor’s approval of how the donor is to be memorialized.
Contact B. J. Summers, Director of Development and Donor Relations, CFES for assistance in planning a gift. Ms. Summers works closely with the PCAC
Additionally, the CFES has an online donation application. Their online gifting form asks for the amount to be gifted, and an opportunity to select a fund or name will ask you to name the non-profit. The Parsons Cemetery’s endowment is named the Parsons Cemetery Perpetual Care Endowment Fund. Gifts can be made in honor of or memory of someone or something, the person or occasion, and an opportunity to be recognized as the donor or to remain anonymous.
The State of Maryland's Giving Initiative: Endow Maryland
In 2015, the State of Maryland created a giving initiative to encourage greater support for non-profits. Under this initiative, a donation of $1,000 will cost the average taxpayer only $500. This initiative was renewed for 2016.
Please see the Community Foundation’s website for more information.
The PCAC wishes to thank you for your interest in considering a gift or donation to the historic Parsons Cemetery.
The PCAC is also very appreciative of those volunteers who offer their time to the care and maintenance of the cemetery. In addition to miscellaneous grounds keeping tasks, we have volunteers interested in researching the history of those resting in Parsons and in developing information to be entered into our Ramaker Cemetery Information Management System (CIMS).
The CIMS data base is used to capture information about the cemetery as a whole and each individual grave site to include information and pictures of each memorial and information about the deceased. CIMS was originally purchased by the PCAC as an operational tool to improve management of the newer Water’s Edge Section, but was expanded to include the entire cemetery. From the beginning, we have planned to make the CIMS historical database information available on line for historical and genealogy purposes once we had the database sufficiently populated.
We are also looking for those wishing to provide us with family information for entry into CIMS to maximize the use of this system for genealogists and family members. This information can be provided to us by email or meeting with our Website Manager.
In 2004, a new Parsons Cemetery Advisory Committee (PCAC) was organized to include six voting members; three from St Peter’s Episcopal Church, and three from the community. Their stated mission was to manage the cemetery operations and grow the Parsons Cemetery Perpetual Care Endowment Fund managed by the Community Foundation of Eastern. St. Peter’s continues to own the land, but Parsons Cemetery is a separate non-profit entity with separate financial reporting.