The majority of the gifts to Harvard come in the form of cash. For instructions on how to make a gift by check, cash wire, or credit card, please visit How to Give.

Appreciated Securities

Giving appreciated securities is a tax-wise way to support Harvard. For securities held longer than one year, you can deduct their full fair market value, regardless of what you originally paid for them. You also avoid paying capital gains tax.

*For illustration purposes only. Assumes 39.6% federal income tax bracket, 20% capital gains tax rate, and 3.8% surtax on net investment income.    
Key donor benefits of a $10,000. gift of stock with a cost basis of $2,000. Cash Gift Stock Gift
Current fair market value of stock $10,000 $10,000
Income taxes saved $3,960 $3,960
Capital gains taxes saved* $0 $1,904
Total tax savings $3,960 $5,864

For instructions on how to make a gift of appreciated stock or mutual fund shares, please visit the Giving FAQ page.

Real Estate

By making a gift of real estate, you can leverage a significant asset for your benefit and the University’s. While supporting Harvard’s mission, you can save on taxes, increase your income, and/or reduce the burden of maintaining or selling your property. Gifts can be made with residential, commercial, or undeveloped real estate.

Types of Gifts

You can make an outright gift of either a percentage interest or an entire property.

By funding a trust or annuity with your gift, you can receive a well-managed income stream for life for you, your spouse, or other beneficiaries. You also receive an income tax deduction for a portion of your gift, avoid capital gains tax, and save on gift and estate taxes. In the future, your gift will benefit Harvard according to terms you determine in conjunction with the University.

Through a retained life estate arrangement, you can donate your home to Harvard and continue to live there for your lifetime. You are entitled to an immediate income tax deduction for a portion of the appraised value. Moreover, the property is removed from your estate for tax purposes. Should you decide to move out of your home, you and Harvard can sell the property together and divide the proceeds proportionately. Alternatively, you may be able to transfer your remaining life interest to Harvard in exchange for an annuity.

Personal Property

Gifts of art, collections, and other tangible property can be an effective way to provide meaningful support for the University. Depending on the asset given, the structure of your gift, and the purpose of your gift, there are various tax and financial benefits.

There Are a Number of Ways to Make Your Gift:

The Tax Benefits Can Include:

  • Charitable income tax deduction and avoidance of capital gains tax based on fair market value for a gift of art accepted into the permanent holdings of the Harvard Art Museum
  • Capital gains tax avoidance for a gift of art or other tangible property to be sold by the University to fund another purpose (e.g., financial aid, professorship, curatorship, program support)
  • Gift and estate tax saving

Business Interests

Giving shares in a closely held or family business can be a tax-wise way to support Harvard’s mission. Generally, Harvard offers the stock back to your company for redemption and uses the proceeds for purposes you specify.

IRAs/Retirement Plans

There are several tax-efficient ways in which you can support Harvard students and faculty with a gift from your IRA or other retirement account: 

Give a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from Your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) 

For individuals age 70 1⁄2 or older, the IRA QCD is a tax-wise way to support Harvard. When you send your QCD directly to Harvard, the funds will not be subject to income taxation. If you are required to make annual withdrawals from your IRA, these distributions can satisfy your annual Required Minimum Distribution.  

Each year, you (and your spouse) can transfer as much as $100,000 to Harvard to support the program of your choice.   

What are the benefits?  

  • Transfer gifts from your IRA directly to Harvard free of income tax
  • Can be applied toward your annual Required Minimum Distribution
  • Beneficial for individuals who do not itemize deductions on their income tax
  • Withdrawals not subject to annual charitable deduction limitations
  • May be used to satisfy multiyear gift pledges
  • Can be used to create an endowed scholarship or other permanent fund

To initiate your transfer, contact your IRA administrator. Contributions can be made to “The President and Fellows of Harvard College” (federal tax ID, or EIN, 04-2103580), and mailed to:  

Harvard University  
PO Box 419209 
Boston, MA 02241-9209   

Use Your QCD to Fund a Charitable Gift Annuity 

Donors age 70 1/2 and above may use up to $50,000 of a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from an IRA to fund a charitable gift annuity (CGA).  

To learn more about establishing a charitable gift annuity with your QCD, please contact us

Name Harvard as a Beneficiary of Your IRA 

You can support Harvard students and faculty by designating Harvard as a beneficiary of your IRA or other retirement plan.  

When you name Harvard as a beneficiary of your retirement plan, 100% of the funds will pass to Harvard, since the distribution avoids both income and estate taxes.  

To Make This Gift:  

  • Work with the administrator of your IRA to designate Harvard as a beneficiary of all or a percentage of your account.
  • Please list “The President and Fellows of Harvard College” (federal tax ID, or EIN, 04-2103580) as your beneficiary
  • Often this can be done via your IRA account online. If not, please ask your custodian for the appropriate form. 
  • If you wish to designate your gift for a specific purpose, please contact us so that we may provide you with the appropriate language.

Life Insurance

If you have more insurance coverage than you need, you may consider giving Harvard a paid-up policy. By transferring the ownership of your policy to Harvard, you receive a charitable income tax deduction equal to the policy’s cash surrender value or cost basis, whichever is less.

Other Assets

There are many additional kinds of assets that may be used to fund a significant gift to Harvard, including:

  • Copyrights
  • Royalties 
  • Patents 
  • Assignment of contractual income rights 
  • Oil and gas interest

Contact University Planned Giving

Please contact our office for information on gift strategies that can help you support Harvard’s teaching and research and provide significant benefits to you and your family. 

124 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 800-446-1277 
or 617-495-4647
Fax: 617-495-8130
Tax I.D. #: ‌04‑210‑3580

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Gift Strategies

Gift Strategies Spring 2022 PDF