Investing in Philanthropy with ETF: Security, Expertise, and Success

“Process matters. Our policy, oversight, and approach help ensure the best possible management of our funds through even the most challenging markets.” - Melissa Tschanz, Chief Financial Officer, East Tennessee Foundation

Wise investment of our funds is essential to our mission. To ensure this, we focus on process, expert governance, transparency, high standards, and a thoughtful strategic investment plan.

Our success is driven by three important groups: an expert professional team; a dedicated board of directors composed of leaders from throughout the region; and a highly-skilled and experienced volunteer investment committee. Under the watchful eye of these three groups, assets are invested to provide a valuable source of grantmaking dollars for our community in perpetuity.

Our board adopts an investment policy and appoints an investment committee to closely monitor and make all decisions on ETF’s investments, which are managed by industry-leading professionals. Members of our investment committee are selected for their financial-management experience and institutional investment expertise. Currently, the investment committee is chaired by Charles “Butch” Peccolo. Other committee members include John Apperson, Veenita Bisaria, Grant Boyd, Richard Dapaah, Ted Flickinger, Larry Mauldin, and Rip Mecherle.

It’s an honor to serve alongside some of the region’s best financial professionals on ETF’s investment committee as we seek to guide wise stewardship of these charitable funds,” Butch Peccolo, ETF Investment Committee Chair and retired treasurer of the University of Tennessee.

Our Investment Committee meets quarterly throughout the year to review our strategy and policies. This includes:

  • Allocating funds across diverse asset classes according to a sound asset allocation model, to maximize returns while minimizing risk;
  • Diversifying across investment styles and using multiple investment managers;
  • Monitoring closely the performance of each fund and investment vehicle against appropriate benchmarks; and
  • Maintaining a prudent spending policy (i.e., the spending rate, or the amount granted out each year from endowed funds) to maintain or increase the real value of endowment principal over the long-term while funding current needs at an appropriate level.


Through the many ups and downs of the market, our comprehensive approach has resulted in an average 7.6% annualized return in our long-term commingled investment pool since its inception in 1987. Our financials are inspected by independent auditors every year and we are certified in compliance with National Standards for Community Foundations.