3 items in your financial closet that would make great charitable gifts

As summer approaches, many of us have already tackled those spring cleaning projects, but have you considered tidying up your financial closet and reviewing your philanthropic to-do list? Charitable gift planning can be approached in a similar way to reviewing your wardrobe—what assets do you own that may no longer be a good fit or could be put to better use? Donating these assets to a charity, like Duke, can allow you to make at real difference at a place you feel passionate about.

Here are three assets you may wish to consider donating as charitable gifts:

1. Life insurance policies

Remember that life insurance policy you put into place when the kids were small? Or the policy that you obtained from your last employer? You may have an insurance policy that made a lot of sense at the time you bought it, but now could be doing more for you as a charitable gift. Donating a life insurance policy—fully-paid up or not—to a public charity, like Duke, entitles you to a charitable income tax deduction. Your gift can then be used by Duke to support any program area you choose. For more information about donating gifts of life insurance policies to Duke, be sure to read our online FAQ.

2. Appreciated stocks

How is your portfolio doing these days? Fortunately, many people have seen a healthy appreciation in a number of their stocks. You may know that you can donate appreciated stocks to a non-profit, but are you aware of the unique tax savings you can achieve from this type of gift? Donating appreciated stock that you have held for more than one year allows you to claim an income tax deduction based on the fair market value of the securities, plus you would avoid paying capital gains taxes on the appreciation. You could also repurchase the same stock you gave away without being subject to the wash sale rules. So the replacement stock will have the higher cost basis, minimizing future capital gains tax!

3. Appreciated mutual funds

Did you know that you can also donate shares in mutual funds in the same way you would give stock to Duke? Similar to gifts of stock, you would receive an income tax deduction and avoid taxes on the capital gains in the shares. Your income tax savings combined with the avoidance of the capital gains taxes essentially lowers the cost of your gift. For more information on gifts of securities to Duke or to see examples of how this works, please read our Gifts of Publicly Traded Securities one-pager.

There is a quote by William Morris that I consider during my own spring cleaning to help me clear away the clutter that accumulates over time: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Perhaps we can add to this quote with the following words: “… best of all is if you can create something useful or beautiful by giving it away.”

Our office is happy to work with you and your financial advisors to review what options might be best for you. Please contact us if we can be of help in any way.

TAGS: appreciated stocks life insurance Appreciated mutual funds

About the author

Gift Planning


Duke University’s Office of Gift Planning specializes in charitable gift planning for estates, charitable trusts and annuities, and other complex current and future gift plans.

For more information, please contact the Duke University Office of Gift Planning at 919-681-0464 or giftplanning@duke.edu.