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Carl Sagan Fund for the Future

Carl Sagan Fund for the Future Charter

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The Charter for the Carl Sagan Fund for the Future defines the purpose, governing structure, and rules for the fund. Our Charter was approved by The Planetary Society's Board of Directors in 2014. 

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the Carl Sagan Fund for the Future is to attract, preserve and grow its donated capital so as to provide a sustaining fiscal base to support the mission of The Planetary Society.

I. Organization

II. Rules of Governance

III. Responsibilities of the Trustees

IV. Nomination Process for Trustees

I. Organization

A. The Carl Sagan Fund for the Future (Sagan Fund) will be governed by an independent, volunteer Board of Trustees (Trustees), which will be appointed by the Society’s Board of Directors.

B. The Board of Trustees will have no more than 5 members at the discretion of the Society’s Board of Directors.

C. The Society's Board of Directors reserves the right to remove a Trustee at any time without cause.

D. The terms of office for the Trustees will be 3 years, with a one-year offset at the outset so as to maintain organizational continuity.

E. The number of terms any one member can serve as a Trustee will be at the discretion of the Society’s Board of Directors.

F. The Trustees will be members of The Planetary Society, but not necessarily current members of the Society’s Board of Directors.  No more than 50% of the Trustees will be current members of The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors.    

G. The President of the Society’s Board of Directors will be a voting member of the Trustees.  The Society’s Board of Directors will appoint the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.  The Society’s CEO will be a non-voting member of the Trustees.

H. The Trustees will meet at least twice each year, and will use that opportunity to review the Sagan Fund's asset performance, a report on which will be provided on a quarterly basis.

I. The Trustees have responsibility for establishing the Sagan Fund’s overall investment philosophy and strategy, subject to the Sagan Fund’s Rules of Governance.

J. The Society’s Board of Directors will review the Sagan Fund Charter in conjunction with the Society’s regular meetings and will recommend changes, if/as needed.

K. The Sagan Fund will undergo an annual independent audit as part of The Planetary Society’s annual audit. The Audit Committee of the Society's Board of Directors will provide additional oversight of the audit process.

II. Rules of Governance of the Board of Trustees

A. The Trustees are charged with exercising fiduciary responsibility and acting as a prudent investor in managing the Sagan Fund's assets, engaging professional advice as appropriate.

B. The Trustees will be mindful of the appropriate risk vs. return ratios in the investment of the Sagan Fund’s assets, with particular attention to diversification and controlling costs.

C. The Trustees will have the discretion to invest the Sagan Fund’s assets in financial vehicles that, in its best judgment, suit the Sagan Fund's purpose. 

D. The Sagan Fund’s assets will remain invested, with the goal of generating long-term value.

E. With a unanimous vote, the Society’s Board of Directors may issue an Emergency Request to the Trustees to ask them to consider invading the Sagan Fund’s principal. Approval of the Emergency Request will require a unanimous vote of the entire Board of Trustees.  The Trustees’ vote will be required twice:  first, when it is presented, and second, no less than 30 days later.  Furthermore, the Sagan Fund cannot be invaded for more than 10% of the principal unless at least 365 days have passed since the last Emergency Request distribution.

F. Distribution of Income from the Fund

1. A maximum of 5% of the total value of the Sagan Fund, or the total prior year’s annual return of the fund (whichever is lower), will be distributed to The Planetary Society on an annual basis following the closing of the fiscal year and upon the completion of the annual operating budget.

2. The amounts distributed from the Sagan Fund to The Planetary Society will be used at the discretion of the Society’s Board of Directors in fulfilling the Society’s mission.

G. Reporting of the Sagan Fund’s Assets:  The Trustees will submit a quarterly written report of the Sagan Fund’s assets to the Finance Committee of the Society's Board of Directors, on a schedule consistent with the Society’s existing financial cycles (December 31, March 31, June 30 and September 30).

H. Costs of Operation of the Fund:  The Sagan Fund will reimburse The Planetary Society for:

1. Staff costs related to the operation, data collection, and other services provided to the Board of Trustees for fulfilling its responsibilities

2. Investment expenses involved in the prudent operation of the Fund Investment Program

3. Fundraising expenses associated with generating contributions to the Sagan Fund

III. Responsibilities of Members of the CSFF Board of Trustees

Members of the Carl Sagan Fund for the Future Board of Trustees will:

A. Commit to be active and responsible stewards of the Sagan Fund’s assets, including avoiding conflicts of interest

B. Participate actively in the affairs of the Sagan Fund, including attending meetings

C. Recommend future members of the Sagan Fund as their terms expire

D. Make a personal annual contribution to the Sagan Fund

E. Act as ambassadors, spreading information regarding The Planetary Society’s important efforts and achievements

F. Support fundraising efforts to generate contributions for the Sagan Fund

G. Seek expert, professional advice as appropriate

IV. Nomination Process for Trustees

A. The Society's Board of Directors will vote in new Sagan Fund Trustees. 

B. The Society's Fund Development Committee will manage the nomination process for Sagan Fund Trustees.

C. Society Board Members, Sagan Fund Trustees, and/or Planetary Society staff may submit nominations to the Fund Development Committee throughout the year.

D. To assure discretion and privacy, deliberations among the Fund Development Committee will be kept confidential.  However, the Chairman of the Board of Directors may have access to all information at any time.

E. The Fund Development Committee will present its recommendation(s), with accompanying material, to the Society's Board of Directors, either at an in-person meeting or via phone/web conference. 

F. The Society's Board of Directors will conduct a straw vote for each nominee. If the Board approves a nominee in the straw vote, a member of the Board of Directors or a current member of the Board of Trustees will then approach the nominee to ask him/her to serve as a Trustee.

G. Once a vetted nominee agrees to join the Sagan Fund Trustees, the Society's Board of Directors will conduct an official vote, either in person, via phone/web conference, or via email, to officially induct the new Trustee.

H. The Society's Board of Directors reserves the right to remove a Trustee at any time without cause by observing the following process:

1. The majority of the Fund Development Committee agrees to remove a Trustee.

2. The Fund Development Committee presents their recommendation to the Society's Board of Directors, either in person, via phone/web conference, or via email.

3. The Board of Directors votes to remove the Trustee at an in-person meeting, via phone/web conference, or via email.

 

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