To see the impact of your gift to WashU during your lifetime, there are several excellent planned giving strategies: gifts of appreciated assets (such as securities or real estate); making a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA; or a charitable lead trust. Each of these gifts can be put to work immediately, and offers attractive potential tax savings.

Please consult with your legal or tax advisor before making a charitable gift.

Appreciated assets

Many alumni and friends give the university long-term appreciated capital-gain property, such as securities or real estate. (Property is considered “long-term” when you have held it for more than one year.)

​Gifts of long-term appreciated assets offer these benefits:

  • You do not pay capital gains tax on the appreciation of the asset when the property is sold by the university.
  • Under current law, you may usually claim a charitable income-tax deduction based on the property’s full fair-market value.
  • Tax deductions for such gifts are generally limited to 30 percent of your adjusted gross income, but you may carry any excess deduction forward for up to five additional years.

If you have held the appreciated property for one year or less, the charitable deduction is limited to the lower of your cost basis or fair market value. In this case, your deduction will be limited to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Appreciated assets gift options

Publicly traded appreciated securities

Make a gift of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other publicly traded securities you’ve held for more than one year.

You may claim a charitable tax deduction based on the gift’s full fair-market value. (The value of your gift is the average of the high and low of the security’s value on the day your gift is made.) Because the university sells the security, you do not pay capital gains tax.

The way in which your shares are owned (certificate versus shares held in a brokerage account) will determine how the transfer of the shares is completed. Please contact the Office of Planned Giving for guidance on how to complete your gift.

Real estate

Make a gift of real estate — now, or as a retained life estate.

A gift of real estate, such as a primary residence, second home, commercial building, farm, rental property or unimproved land, is a flexible charitable strategy.

You may use real estate to:

  • Make an outright gift to WashU.
  • Fund a charitable remainder unitrust, which makes lifetime payments to you and/or other beneficiaries
  • Establish a retained life estate (see below).

This approach may provide numerous tax advantages. You will receive a charitable income tax deduction based on an appraisal, following specific IRS requirements. You will also avoid capital gains tax on the appreciation of the property when sold by the university.

Gifts of real estate require a review of the property prior to your gift. The university’s procedure for accepting real estate gifts includes obtaining information from you on the value and marketability of the property.

If you are interested in a gift of real estate, please contact the Office of Planned Giving. We will provide you and your advisors specific information about how gifts of real estate can be completed.

Gift real estate with retained life estate

If you’d like to make a gift of real estate, and to retain use of the property while living, consider a retained life estate.

A retained life estate enables you to:

  • Make a gift of a personal residence, second home, or farm.
  • Receive an immediate charitable income tax deduction based on a portion of the property’s appraised value.
  • Continue to use the property during your lifetime and that of your spouse.

By executing a deed, you can irrevocably designate the ownership of the property to Washington University while retaining life estate ownership. (You remain responsible for all taxes, maintenance, etc., while retaining use of the property.) You will also need to obtain a qualified appraisal of the residence.

Upon your passing, the property will transfer to the university without going through probate. The university will then have full ownership of the property, and the value of the property will qualify for a charitable estate tax deduction.

If you are interested in a retained life estate, please contact the Office of Planned Giving. Together with the university’s General Counsel, we can work with you and your legal counsel to draft language for the deed.

Closely held or privately held securities

Make a gift of closely held securities in companies that are not publicly traded.

Given the complexity of closely held securities and the specific IRS regulations on valuing closely held securities, it is important to consult with your financial and legal advisors and the Office of Planned Giving before making your gift. The university will work with you and your advisors to determine if your gift can be accepted by the university.

If you are able to contribute your closely held securities to the university, you may deduct the appraised value of your gift and avoid capital gains tax; however, the IRS will require an appraisal from a qualified appraiser to substantiate your deduction.

Please contact the Office of Planned Giving for guidance on how to proceed with your gift.

Artwork and collections

Donate art, rare books, and other collectibles to the university.

Share your passion with the university, and receive a charitable income tax deduction for the donation. The University Libraries, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, or other university entities or programs will work with you to review the property to determine if it is an appropriate gift for the university. A qualified appraisal of the donated property will be required for tax purposes.

Please contact the Office of Planned Giving for guidance on how to proceed with your gift.

Qualified charitable distribution (“rollover”) from an IRA

If you are at least 70½ years old, you can make tax-free gifts totaling up to $105,000 per calendar year directly from your IRA to qualified public charities such as Washington University.

Called a qualified charitable distribution, or QCD, this giving opportunity is particularly beneficial for donors who may not need their annual required minimum distribution or who want to make a larger tax-free charitable gift from an IRA.

By directing your gift directly to the university, you do not report the IRA distribution as income. This is particularly useful if you do not itemize your deductions. As with other gifts, you can designate the purpose for which the gift is to be used.

To make a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA:

  • You must be 70½ years of age or older on the date the distribution is made.
  • The transfer must go directly from your IRA to Washington University. (The IRA manager will need to send your distribution via wire transfer — see instructions.)
  • You may make tax-free transfers from your IRA to a charity or charities totaling up to $105,000 each calendar year. If you are married, your spouse may also be eligible to make such gifts up to $105,000 from their own IRA.
  • A qualified charitable distribution from your IRA will count toward your minimum distribution requirement.
  • Gifts from an IRA may only be used to make an outright gift to a qualified public charity, such as Washington University. Qualified charitable distribution gifts from an IRA cannot be used to fund a donor-advised fund, or a private foundation.
  • The SECURE Act 2.0 passed in December 2022 does allow for QCDs up to $50,000 in a single year to be directed to a charitable remainder unitrust, charitable remainder annuity trust, or a charitable gift annuity.