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How Does the Trust Work?

The AAEA Trust (formerly the AAEA Foundation) is the non-profit fundraising arm of AAEA, designed to support the purposes of AAEA and its members. Donations to the Trust can be directed to specific support categories, allowing donors to decide which programs they would like to support. In addition, your donation this year will support the long-term future of the Trust, providing funding for programs over the next five years.

Below you’ll find answers to key questions about the purpose and function of the AAEA Trust. If you have additional questions, feel free to send them to If you would like to support the Trust, you can do so by donating today.

What is the Purpose of the AAEA Trust?

The AAEA Trust supports the work of agricultural and applied economists by funding programs and initiatives designed to advance the profession. Programs are chosen to receive funding based on their ability to accomplish one or both of the following goals:

  • support graduate student and young professional development
  • enhance the AAEA Annual Meeting, broaden participation in AAEA, reach out to new groups, and/or broaden the horizons of the current membership

The Trust complements the work of AAEA, giving AAEA members the ability to support activities that benefit the profession broadly. Having these programs receive support from the AAEA Trust allows AAEA to use the dues revenue collected from its members to fund services that benefit those members more directly. This, in turn, helps AAEA keep its dues rates low and in line with comparable organizations.

What Does It Mean to Direct Your Donation to a Specific Support Category?

Donors to the AAEA Trust have the option to divide their contribution between four categories, as well as the Special Purpose Funds. Three of the support categories represent a particular subset of the programs usually funded by the Trust. They include:

  • Student and Young Professional Travel and Development
  • Outreach
  • The Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics (C-FARE)

Contributions to a particular category can only be used to fund programs that fit its definition. This gives donors the ability to influence the direction of the Trust through their decisions while giving.

Beyond the three specific support categories, donors can give to a fourth category called Unrestricted, which serves two purposes. First, it can fund new programs that don’t fall under an existing support category. Second, it can be used to augment the total funds available to the other three support categories.

How Does My Contribution Get Distributed over the Next Five Years?

In order to keep funding levels relatively stable from year to year, the AAEA Trust applies all donations over a five year period. Each donation is broken up into two pieces: first, 50% of your donation is made available in the following year to the support categories you chose; the remainder of your donation will be available over the next four years, with 12.5% being applied to each year.

For example, say you contributed $100 to one support category in 2012. When funding programs in 2013, $50 of your contribution will be available for that support category. For 2014–2017, $12.50 will be included in that support category’s available funds.

How Do the Available Funds Get Allocated between the Support Categories?

Funding for the Trust is provided on an annual basis. After the funding proposals for the following year have been received, calculations are made to determine the total level of funding available for the Trust to provide that year. The AAEA Executive Board ultimately determines the final allocation of funds within the proposals submitted to the Trust, acting on recommendations from the AAEA Trust Committee.

The amount of donations each category received serves two purposes in this process: first, the funds allocated to each category serve as a minimum funding level for that category; and second, the proportion of total donations received can be used as a guide for the Trust Committee and Executive Board, as they choose to allocate funds between projects. Funds allocated to the Unrestricted category can be used to both fund projects outside the scope of the other three categories, as well as supplement the funds available to those categories. 

Reviewing how donors directed their donations among the support categories can serve as a general indication of the interest of AAEA members at this point. However, there are no specific rules in place regarding how funds must be allocated. This is left up to the discretion of the board.

Can a New Support Category Be Added?

New support categories can be added based on a recommendation from the AAEA Trust Committee and approval by the AAEA Executive Board. Any AAEA member can petition for the addition of a new support category. Such a petition must present substantial evidence that allocations of support to the fund will exceed 10% of total member-allocated donations. The activities being proposed for support must also be consistent with the long-standing funding guidelines governing expenditures from the AAEA Trust.

What Are the Appreciation Clubs and Special Purpose Funds and How Do I Donate to Them?

Both Appreciation Clubs and Special Purpose funds provide donors the option to honor the work of a member of the agricultural and applied economics field by donating in his/her name. When you make a donation to an Appreciation Club, you’ll still have the option to allocate your donation among the four support categories. This is because all donations to an Appreciation Club become part of the general Trust endowment.

Unlike Appreciation Clubs, Special Purpose Funds are restricted use funds, meaning that any donations they receive can only be used by that fund. Special Purpose Funds use the contributions they receive to fund a specific award or scholarship, usually given annually. When you donate to a Special Purpose Fund, you won’t have the option to select a support category.

You’ll have the option to donate to an Appreciation Club and a Special Purpose Fund when completing the Trust donation form.

Can Non-members or Other Organizations Donate to the Trust?

Donations from non-members, corporations, and foundations are welcome; however those donations will not have option to be allocated among the support categories. Support category allocation is used to represent the interests of AAEA members, so it is important that other contributions don’t influence that process.

If you are interested in making a non-member donation to the Trust, you can do so by contacting the AAEA Business Office at (414) 918-3190 or