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.

*Assumes 20% capital gains tax 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.

“If folks like us can find a successful way to participate in planned giving, then certainly many others can too.”
-- Ron Alberts and Rita Schneider

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

You can designate Harvard as a beneficiary of part or all the remainder of your IRA or retirement plan.

Distributions from retirement plans at the death of the survivor of the account-holder can be subject to both income and estate taxes. In a large estate, these taxes can leave less than 30 cents on the dollar of the plan’s balance for your children or other heirs.

By naming Harvard as the beneficiary of the remainder of your retirement plan, 100 percent of the plan’s balance is available for Harvard’s use, since the distribution avoids both income and estate taxes.

To Make This Gift:

  • You must notify your plan’s administrator
  • A "change of beneficiary" form will be required

Sample Beneficiary Designation Language for a Spouse and Harvard:

The beneficiary is my spouse as long as he/she survives me. The beneficiary of any amount(s) remaining in the plan after the death of my spouse, or of the entire amount in the plan upon my death if my spouse does not survive me, or of any portion thereof that my spouse may disclaim, is The President and Fellows of Harvard College, for its general charitable purposes or for the benefit of (name of School or affiliate).

View information on the tax-free IRA QCD Gift

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

Contact Us

Gift Strategies

Gift Strategies Spring 2022 PDF

Planned Giving Information

Explore the benefits of a variety of gift options with our planned giving calculator.

The ninth edition of The Harvard Manual on Tax Aspects of Charitable Giving, written by Carolyn Osteen and Martin Hall of Ropes & Gray, LLP is available. Order your copy today.