The historic Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide

The University has a proud history of philanthropy. For more than 145 years, endowments have played an invaluable role in supporting the core needs of our students and researchers, enabling them to make ground-breaking contributions to local, national and international communities. 

Endowed funds are amongst the University of Adelaide’s most important sources of philanthropic support. Secured in perpetuity, they underwrite core activities and programs including scholarships, professorial chairs and fellowships, and the maintenance of our historic buildings and heritage. 

Donors are able to establish individual endowment funds, or contribute to the University Endowment Fund. As it grows, the Endowment Fund strengthens the University and allows for autonomy and reliable planning. The Endowment Fund provides a flow of predictable revenue, enabling the University to be less reliant on volatile funding sources such as grants and enrolments.

The University of Adelaide’s Endowment Fund Investment Report provides an overview of how the fund is managed and how it performed in the recent financial year.

  • What is an endowment fund?

    An endowment is created by a donor from a gift, with the majority of endowments having a legal stipulation that the original gift may never be expended and only the earnings can be used. The objective of the endowment fund is to provide both long-term capital growth and a current income stream, which is critical to sustaining and enhancing the University’s position amongst the best in the world.

    An endowment is a permanent, self-sustaining source of funding. In an endowment fund, the principal is invested in perpetuity and only a portion of the investment’s earnings is used each year to support the fund’s purpose, and any earnings in excess of this distribution are used to build the fund’s market value. 

  • Why is an endowment fund important?

    The Endowment Fund provides consistent finance and enables the University to make commitments to students and research, independent of volatile government funding and revenue cross-subsidy.

    With a committed source of funding, the University can provide scholarships and financial support to students, create professorships, introduce new programs, continue research programs which support the exploration and development of improved treatments and health outcomes, environmental sustainability, cutting-edge artificial projects, and the arts. 

  • How much money does it take to start an endowment?

    Setting up an endowment is not just for large organisations. With a minimum gift of $25,000, your gift can be combined with other like-minded donors to support a chosen School of study or a Faculty through its Student and Teaching Support Fund or Research Support Fund.

    Many donors also choose to name their fund, or to honour a loved one or a favourite Professor – the choice is yours. Below is a guide to minimum funding levels and examples of different types of endowments:

    • $100,000 will establish an unrestricted named endowed undergraduate scholarship in your chosen area of study.
    • $300,000 will establish an endowment for a Coaching Development Fund for the Adelaide University Cricket Club.
    • $1,200,000 will establish a visiting master musician program for the Elder Conservatorium.
    • $1,500,000 will establish a named endowed chair to support a visiting professor in your chosen area of study.
    • $2,000,000 will establish a named endowment for the Adelaide University Boat Club to regularly renew its fleet of boats.
    • $5,000,000 will establish a named endowed chair to support a distinguished research post.
  • How is the endowment fund managed?

    The University Finance Committee, a Standing Committee of the University’s Council, oversees all investment related activities regarding the Funds investment profile, providing recommendations of the strategic asset allocation and investment objectives to the University Council for approval.

    Reports are provided monthly by fund managers and quarterly performance reports are provided to the Finance Committee to ensure timely monitoring and oversight.

    Independent asset advisors have also been engaged to provide ongoing asset allocation and governance advice. The advisor reviews fund manager performance and provides updates and recommendations on fund investments to the Finance Committee.

  • What are the objectives and strategy of the fund?

    The Fund's long-term investment objective is Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 4% per annum, with distributions up to a maximum of 5% of the value of the Fund each year. 

    A growth biased investment strategy has been adopted with approximately 80% growth assets and 20% defensive assets. This strategy is consistent with the Fund’s objective of providing both long-term capital growth and a current income stream through exposure to a diversified investment portfolio

  • Endowment reports

    Annual endowment performance reports can be found on our Endowment Reports page.

  • How can you support an endowment fund?

    In consultation with the individual Schools and Faculties, the University has a number of Development Plans which outline the student, teaching, research, evolution and infrastructure programs which donors can choose to invest.


    The School of Economics Development Fund was established to support South Australia's transformation from a traditional manufacturing centre to a new economy based on emerging technologies and imaginative market solutions. 

    Adelaide Law School

    The Adelaide Law School Endowment Fund was established to support the growth and development of future law professionals, undertake innovative and ground-breaking research and position the School as a leading force in law reform in South Australia.

    Barr Smith Library

    The Barr Smith Library Development Plan was established to support the core needs of students and researchers, enabling them to make ground-breaking contributions to local, national and international communities.

    Schools of Engineering

    The Schools of Engineering Development Fund was established to enhance the value of our Engineering degrees and develop an emerging generation of problem solving entrepreneurs by attracting world-class academics and investing in cutting edge facilities.

For a discussion about how you can support students and researchers in perpetuity through the Endowment Fund, please contact our Development Team on +61 8 8313 5800 or development@adelaide.edu.au.