Planned Giving

There are many ways to give and create your legacy. We welcome the opportunity to work with you and your advisors to evaluate your charitable giving strategy.

Learn more about the giving options available, each with certain tax benefits and income potential. Every situation is different, so it’s important to examine your charitable goals, lifetime income needs, and family situation. Together we can begin the process, determine what works best for you, choose the concepts that will help you realize your objectives and put this valuable plan in place.

For more information about making a planned gift, please contact Laura Tenenbaum, Senior Director of Development, at or 212-342-2108.

Charitable Bequests—A Gift in Your Will

A popular and enduring planned gift is a simple charitable bequest, which is a gift made through your will. Bequests are popular because they give you the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy. When you make a charitable bequest, you retain full use of your property during life, so there is no disruption of your lifestyle and no immediate out-of-pocket cost.

To make a bequest, simply direct that part of your estate directly to CUIMC. Since a charitable bequest can take many forms, you have remarkable flexibility in how you make this designation. For example, you can leave...

  • a specific asset
  • a specific sum of money
  • a percentage of your estate
  • what remains of your estate after you have provided for all of your other beneficiaries.

You can also designate exactly how you want your bequest to be put to use. Or, you can provide an unrestricted bequest that can be used whenever and wherever it's needed most. Most importantly, you can change your bequest whenever you choose—you remain in complete control of the planning process. If there is a particular area or program you would like to support, please contact our planned giving experts at CUIMC to discuss your wishes. We can provide you with the appropriate language to ensure your gift can be used as you intend, email or call 212-342-2108.

Charitable Gift Annuity—Make a Gift, Receive Payments for Life

A gift annuity is an agreement between you and us. When a charitable gift annuity is in place, we agree to pay you fixed payments for your life (and/or the life of your chosen beneficiary). The amount of the annuity is based on the gift amount and age of the annuitant(s) at the time of the gift.

A gift annuity can be established with a contribution and provides a number of very attractive benefits. You can:

  • fund it with cash or marketable securities ($25,000 minimum value in cash or securities to establish your charitable gift annuity)
  • qualify for an immediate income tax charitable deduction for the gift (subject to certain income limitations), and
  • potentially spread out any capital gains tax liability.

What's more, part of your annuity payment may be federal income tax-free for a certain number of years. As a donor, you can select the payment intervals (usually quarterly) and name the annuitant(s)—one or two persons.

Professionals and other highly compensated employees who frequently "max out" their annual retirement plan contributions because of restrictive rules and regulations may want to consider a deferred gift annuity strategy. Deferred gift annuities offer three important benefits:

  1. They can be used to supplement qualified retirement plan savings.
  2. You qualify for a current income tax deduction now during your high income years.
  3. You can postpone the start of annuity payments until later—usually after retirement begins.

Gifts of Stock

Gifts of long-term, highly appreciated securities are the most common type of outright property gift. Typically, individual stocks are given; however, bonds or mutual fund shares are also attractive gift options. Outright gifts of securities can be made quickly and these gifts let you do more with your gift because of the very attractive tax benefits.

For appreciated property held long-term, the full fair market value of securities given to charity is generally deductible for itemizers. For example, if you give shares of stock that are now worth $10,000, you can deduct the full amount of the gift on your income tax return (subject to certain income limitations), even though you may have bought the stock for $1,000.

A charitable gift of securities held long-term is not considered a sale of the securities and does not generate any capital gains tax, no matter the amount of the gain. This is a valuable tax incentive provided by Congress to encourage gifts of appreciated property. The result: a charitable deduction is allowed for capital gains that would have been taxed. And, if we sell the securities, we keep every penny of the proceeds since we are tax exempt.

Additional information and instructions on making a gift of stock can be found here.

IRA Charitable Rollover—Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution from Your IRA

Legislation signed in 2015 permanently extended the popular gift option known as the IRA Charitable Rollover—a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA. This is good news for IRA owners age 70½ and over who want to support our work, because you can use your IRA required minimum distribution (RMD) to make a meaningful gift. It’s easy to do.

  • Instruct your IRA custodian to make a distribution directly to our organization.
  • Although there is no tax deduction, the distribution is excluded from your income for federal tax purposes—no tax is due!
  • Up to $100,000 of your gift qualifies for this favorable tax treatment.
  • Your gift makes an immediate impact.

Please contact us to learn more about planning and completing an IRA Rollover gift, or click here to calculate your required minimum distribution.

Gifts of Retirement Account Assets

More and more donors use qualified retirement account assets in their charitable gift planning. The reason: Retirement account assets left to loved ones may be subject to higher taxation than other types of assets.

By using retirement account assets to make a gift (and selecting alternative assets to leave to family members) you may be able to reduce taxes that otherwise would be imposed on those assets and leave more to your intended beneficiaries.

Charitable Remainder Trust

One method of making a gift with a retained right to income is a charitable remainder trust. Let's look at some of the benefits a charitable remainder trust can provide:

  • An income for you and/or your beneficiaries for life or a period of up to 20 years
  • An immediate and substantial income tax charitable deduction (subject to certain income limitations) for itemizers
  • Potential avoidance of current capital gains taxes when the trust is funded with long-term appreciated property
  • Reduction of your estate to avoid or reduce death taxes
  • Substantial reduction of probate costs, taxes, and other estate transfer expenses. 
  • Unlike other life income gifts, you can also make additional gifts to the trust during its term and receive additional tax deductions, all while increasing the income your gift provides to the individuals you wish to benefit.

An Immediate Charitable Deduction

A gift to a charitable remainder trust qualifies for an immediate income tax deduction, even though income is to be paid to the donor (and/or other beneficiaries) for life. The exact amount of the charitable deduction depends on the:

  • value of the property transferred to the trust ($100,000 minimum value in cash, securities, or real property to establish your charitable remainder trust)
  • amount of income benefits that are payable each year to individual beneficiaries
  • approximate length of time the income benefits will be paid
  • interest rates prevailing at the time the gift is made.

Despite the tax and financial benefits of a charitable remainder trust, you should consider this kind of arrangement only if you and your advisors determine it is compatible with your overall estate, tax and financial plan.

Gifts of Real Estate

When appreciated real estate is given to us, capital gains taxes can be completely avoided and the full fair market value of the property is generally deductible for itemizers as a charitable contribution.

Gift of a Remainder Interest in a Personal Residence or Other Types of Real Estate

A special provision of the tax law allows an immediate income tax charitable deduction for a gift of a remainder interest in your home or other types of real estate. With a remainder interest gift, you retain an absolute right to occupy the home or farm for your life (or the life of a family member). The property passes to us only after termination of the life estate(s).

The charitable deduction allowable for this future gift is the present value of our right to receive the property at some later date. The age of the life tenant is the primary factor in determining the present value of our deferred interest and the charitable deduction. The gift is deductible in the year of the transfer (subject to certain income limitations and assuming the donor itemizes).

Gift of a Fractional Interest in Real Estate

Federal tax laws let donors take a charitable deduction for gifts of fractional interests in real estate. This type of gift can be especially rewarding when you own a vacation home that you use only part of the year.

Gifts of Life Insurance

Life insurance is also an excellent tool for accomplishing philanthropic goals while realizing other important financial objectives. Indeed, life insurance can empower individuals to make charitable gifts they never would have dreamed possible.

Making a gift of life insurance is quite simple. If you are the insured policy owner you simply transfer physical possession of your policy to us and file an absolute assignment or transfer of ownership form with your insurance company. Your company then will send a letter to us showing that we are the sole owner of the policy.

Other Gifts

Donor Advised Fund

Columbia Donor-Advised Funds

A donor-advised fund allows you to make a tax-deductible gift to Columbia to establish a fund today—and later advise the University on how you would like the gift used. At least half of the gift must be designated to Columbia, and the rest may support other charities.

A Columbia Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) is an easy-to-use, flexible, expert-managed tool that expands the impact of your charitable giving. Establishing a DAF at Columbia allows you to harness the power of Columbia’s endowment to grow your philanthropy while eliminating the administrative burdens and fees of private foundations. Columbia DAFs offer confidentiality in your giving and flexibility in defining your philanthropic goals.

You can establish a Columbia DAF with a gift of $1,00,000 in assets (cash, securities, insurance, or real property).

Non Columbia Donor-Advised Funds

If you have already established a donor-advised fund and would like to recommend a grant or distribution for Columbia, the check should be made payable to The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York and mailed to the following address:

Columbia University Gift Systems
622 West 113th Street, MC 4524
New York, NY 10025

Columbia’s tax identification number is 13-5598093.

We would appreciate it if you would let us know if you have made a recommendation for a grant to Columbia by emailing and sharing what purpose you wish to support at Columbia.

Alternatively, if your donor-advised fund is with Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, or BNY Mellon, you may recommend a gift to Columbia via DAFDIRECT.

Revocable Living Trust

Create a trust that can be revoked or changed during your lifetime which directs the disposition of your assets including charitable gifts. A Revocable Living Trust can minimize the cost and delays associated with probate; facilitate asset transfer; provide privacy and, unlike a will, assure asset management continuity in the event of disability or death.

Retained Life Estate

Donate a home and retain the right to live in the property for the rest of your life. Qualify for a current income tax charitable deduction on the value of our remainder interest in the home.

Charitable Lead Trust

Create a charitable lead trust that benefits us for a number of years, returns assets to your beneficiaries, and minimizes taxes.

Closely Held Stock

Donate closely held stock. You enjoy a charitable deduction equal to the appraised value of the stock with no capital gains tax due.

Tangible Personal Property

Donate gift property that can be used for our exempt purposes, and qualify for an income tax deduction for the full fair market value.


The Planned Giving team at CUIMC provides support for a full range of charitable gift planning options. Columbia, its employees, and representatives do not offer legal or financial advice. Prospective donors are urged to consult with an attorney, financial advisor, estate planner, or accountant before making arrangements. For more information, contact Laura Tenenbaum, Senior Director of Development, at 212.342.2108 or or Fritzie Dizon, Director of Development, at 212.304.7508 or