Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wall Street Journal on Giving to Colleges

Also in Monday's Wall Street Journal was an article on giving to colleges, more specifically, four rules to increase a gift's impact. Although the article's fourth tip concerned the various tax advantages of different forms of giving (such as donating appreciated stock or leaving a bequest), it was refreshing that tax planning was not the article's main focus.  Instead, the first three tips offered more practical advice about having an impact on the college itself.  The first tip, for example, concerned donor restrictions on gifts.  The article noted that while colleges prefer unrestricted gifts, many donors want the extra gratification that comes from funding a project they especially care about.  To strike this balance, the article emphasized the need for donors who desire restrictions to make sure any restrictions are flexible enough so that the gift doesn't sit unused -- a point I imagine many donors don't consider early enough.  The second tip encouraged donors to consider giving property that could actually be used by the school, such as scientific equipment or musical instruments. These were nice examples, as I imagine many donors just think in terms of cash and stock.  What I especially liked, however, was the article's third tip -- encouraging gifts to schools other than one's alma mater.  While it's natural to want to give back to one's alma mater, one's charitable dollars can often have a greater impact elsewhere, especially if one went to an already well-endowed school.

Miranda Perry Fleischer




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