Frequently Asked Questions
- What is planned giving?
Planned giving enables donors to support Columbia University, either during their lifetime or at death, as part of their overall financial or estate planning.
While some planned gifts provide a lifelong income to the donor and/or loved ones, others use estate- and tax-planning techniques to provide for charity and other heirs in ways that maximize the gift and/or minimize its impact on the donor's estate.
This type of charitable giving can be very attractive to both donor and charity, whether a donor uses cash, appreciated securities, real estate, artwork, partnership interests, personal property, life insurance, a retirement plan, etc.
- Why planned giving?
Planned giving is a smart, structured way to make a gift to Columbia in a way that best works for you. Through many different planned giving options, you can support Columbia's mission—while establishing a legacy, becoming an integral and active part of the Columbia community, and making more possible for your school, for programs, and for the next generations of students.
Planned gifts also give back; they can provide income for you and your loved ones for life. They allow you to take sizeable income- , gift- , and estate-tax deductions and provide favorable capital-gain tax treatment. Planned gifts allow you to leave a legacy that fits your philanthropic goals.
- What kinds of gifts can I give to Columbia?
During your lifetime, you can make an outright gift of cash, securities, or other property (e.g., real estate, personal property).
You also have the option of making a gift that returns lifetime payments to you, your spouse, or other individuals. These life-income gifts include charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder unitrusts. You may also include a provision in your will establishing these gifts for the initial benefit of a loved one and the ultimate benefit of Columbia.
You can make a gift through your will, revocable trust, or a distribution from a retirement plan or life insurance policy.
- What sort of assets can I use to make a gift?
Almost anything: cash, publicly traded securities, or the balance in your retirement account. Other assets—such as real estate, closely held stock, and artwork—can be complicated to administer, so Columbia reviews them before accepting. Please contact the Office of Gift Planning if you are interested in funding a gift with these types of assets.
- What tax deduction will I receive for my gift?
It depends on the gift:
• Outright gifts generate a full itemized income-tax charitable deduction. Outright gifts of appreciated securities are deductible at fair-market value, with no recognition of capital gain—a great double tax benefit.
• Gifts of personal property, like art, books, and collectibles, are fully deductible so long as they are relevant to Columbia's mission. Contact us to learn more.
• Bequests do not generate a lifetime income-tax deduction. They are, however, exempt from estate tax.
• Similarly, life insurance distributions to Columbia are not income-tax deductible but are exempt from estate tax. A lifetime gift of an insurance policy to Columbia generates a deduction for the value of the policy or the donor's basis in the policy, whichever is less.
• A gift that makes payments to you, such as a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust, generates a deduction of the fair-market value of the gift asset minus the present value of the income interest you retain.
- I'd like to donate a painting. Will you determine its value for my income-tax deduction?
No, because the IRS requires that donors of artwork and collectibles secure an independent appraisal of the items from a qualified appraiser. The appraisal has to be related to the gift—an insurance appraisal won't suffice.
- I'm interested in establishing a charitable gift annuity. What financial provisions do you make for the income payments to me and my spouse?
Your charitable gift annuity will be treated as a general obligation of Columbia University, backed by all its assets. Columbia complies with New York provisions regarding nonprofits offering of gift annuities. Columbia University maintains an unbroken record in making timely payments to our annuitants, and that ongoing responsibility is a key element in our financial policies.
- If I create a bequest or life-income gift, will Columbia continue to ask me for annual contributions?
Yes, we will, because they address two distinct needs—the University's long-term and immediate financial strength. Of course, how and when you give to Columbia is always up to you.
- I've heard that making gifts of IRA assets to charity is advantageous. Why?
Qualified retirement plans such as IRAs, 401(k), 403(b), and Keoghs allow individuals to defer paying taxes on a portion of their income until the assets are withdrawn during retirement years. However, after a person's death, these accounts are exposed to income and in some cases estate taxes at a combined rate that could rise to 75% or even higher on large taxable estates. A way to avoid both income and estate tax on your retirement plan is to give those assets to a charity. By designating Columbia University as your beneficiary, you will ensure whatever portion of the value of your account designated for Columbia benefits Columbia.
- What is a donor advised fund?
A donor advised fund is a charitable-giving vehicle administered by a public charity and created for the purpose of managing charitable donations on behalf of an organization, family, or individual. Unlike a private foundation, donor advised funds are not required to set a minimum 5% annual payout. Donor advised funds at Columbia can be invested alongside the University's robust endowment.
A donor advised fund qualifies you to take an immediate charitable deduction for your charitable gifts while avoiding the costs and legal requirements of setting up and administering a private family foundation.
- How much do I need to start a donor advised fund?
Donor advised funds at Columbia require a minimum gift of $1,000,000 in cash or appreciated securities.
- How much do I need to establish a charitable gift annuity?
Charitable gift annuities at Columbia require a minimum gift of $25,000 in cash or appreciated securities.
- How much do I need to establish a charitable remainder unitrust?
Charitable remainder unitrusts at Columbia require a minimum gift of $100,000 in cash, securities, or other appreciated property.
- What is Columbia’s tax ID number?
Tax ID Number: EIN 13-5598093
Please contact the Office of Gift Planning at 800-338-3294 or email@example.com for a copy of our tax letter.
- What is Columbia’s legal name?
Legal Name: "The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York"
All charitable gifts should be directed to "The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, c/o Office of Gift Planning, 622 West 113th Street, New York, NY 10025"
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