Western Adventist Foundation (WAF), founded in 1997 out of the Pacific Union Conference trust department and its three staff members, supports the work of the individual trust departments within the Pacific Union by providing fiduciary and financial management and expertise. The Foundation grew quickly, and by the year 2000 it had begun to serve the entire North American Division, relocating to Tempe, Arizona, where it expanded to serve conferences, unions, ministries, universities, academies, and hospitals.
Currently, WAF manages over 400 revocable trusts of which a Seventh-day Adventist organization is trustee and nearly 200 charitable remainder trusts. It manages roughly 1,700 charitable gift annuities, coordinating state licensure requirements in 48 states for multiple organizations. WAF manages endowments, donor advised funds, special needs trusts, and education trusts, in addition to having custody of many self-administered trusts and wills. Its total managed totaled nearly $350 million in 2021, while its investments earned more than $27 million in 2020 alone. Since its founding, WAF has distributed well over $100 million to denominational organizations and ministries to further the mission of the church.
To maintain a high level of service to its clients, WAF has grown from its initial staff of three to employ 20 people with expertise in the financial, legal, and tax-related fields required by contemporary fiduciary duties. The team works tirelessly to manage the assets entrusted to WAF for safekeeping and to process more than 2,000 trust and annuity payments each year, all while providing excellent service to both the individual members and the organizations of the church.
Since 2016, WAF has grown significantly, moving to a new building in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2017. In 2021, the organization purchased a dedicated building in Scottsdale for the first time and plans to move its operations in 2022. Assets under management have grown 20-40% year after year for the last four years, and talented employees continue to consider it an honor to provide excellent service.
Looking to the future, WAF expects to continue to grow in new and exciting ways. For instance, the organization has recently begun processing cryptocurrency donations on behalf of church organizations. WAF is actively growing and exploring new investment options available for trust and annuities, and it is always seeking service-oriented individuals who aim to support the mission of the church through financial and fiduciary management.
James H. Brown is the CEO of Western Adventist Foundation.