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History of the ATLA Endowment Fund

The American Theological Library Endowment Fund received its first major gift in 1993 when Mrs. Jean Kelly Morris gave stock shares valued at $11,600 to the Fund in memory of her late husband, Dr. Raymond P. Morris.  Dr. Morris was Yale University's Divinity Librarian from 1932 until his retirement in 1972.  During his distinguished career, he served ATLA as President, Executive Secretary of the Board of Microtext, Chair of the Collection Development Pro​gram, fundraiser, consultant and mentor to many generations​ of theological librarians. For many years, Mrs. Morris volunteered her secretarial and administrative skills to support her husband in his ATLA activities.

This lead gift (in conjunction with the charitable contributions of many individual members and friends, matching gift contributions by ATLA and sound investment strategies) increased in value to more than $100,000 in fiscal year 2000 and reached the initial goal set for the Fund. A portion of the Fund's earnings were, for the first time, allocated for Association projects and programs. Several programs were established including outreach to graduate students in theology and religion, recruitment of under-represented candidates to theological librarianship and grants for ATLA student and individual members to attend the ATLA Annual Conference.

In January 2004, the ATLA Board of Directors created a new fund: the ATLA Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund. The new fund was established to complement the ATLA Endowment Fund​.

All funds contributed to the Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund directly support these three causes, and all contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

The Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund is an annual fund designed to raise money to support three activities that reflect the Association’s organizational ends:

  • travel grants that assist student members and low-income members to travel to the ATLA Annual Conference
  • scholarships to assist underrepresented minorities to explore careers in theological librarianship
  • recruitment efforts that will promote theological librarianship as a career choice 

Contributions are solicited at two special times during the year:

  • when membership renewal forms are distributed to ATLA members
  • during the annual Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund drive in November. ATLA members will receive a letter from ATLA President each fall asking for their contribution to the Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund. Please carefully consider this request as you plan your end-of-year giving. 

The Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund differs from the Endowment Fund in several ways: 

  • All funds given to the Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund are expen​ded for the purposes identified by the Board; gifts to the Endowment Fund are invested in an investment portfolio where the principal remains untouched and only a percentage of the interest earned is spent on association projects.
  • The Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund is designed to receive cash gifts only; the Endowment Fund is able to receive cash gifts, but also gifts of land, stock, life insurance policies, and other financial instruments.
  • The Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund is overseen by the ATLA Board of Directors; the Endowment Fund is managed by the four-person Endowment Committee that includes lifetime members as well as active members and reports to the Board.
  • The Scholarships and Grants Annual Fund has three distinct purposes: travel grants, scholarships, and recruitment; the Endowment Fund’s purpose is to secure the future of ATLA as a membership association, and the purpose of the Endowment Committee is to encourage giving to the Endowment Fund.  


My father was dedicated to helping ATLA grow from its infancy, and its members and goals were dear to its heart. He would have been so pleased that ATLA continues to renew itself with fresh initiatives to serve its members and to insure its future. I am sure he would have enthusiastically embraced the Planned Giving Program as a way to benefit both giver and recipient.
-Thelma J. Morris (daughter of Raymond P. Morris)

In gratitude for what ATLA has meant to me and countless others in the past, in appreciation for its vibrant program and leadership today, and to help support its mission in perpetuity, my wife Trudy and I have designated in our wills meaningful bequests to ATLA.  We encourage others who feel as we do to join us in this action .
-John Bollier (Lifetime Member)