Posted December 1st, 1999

In The News…

There may be gold in memorabilia

Tired of donors trying to give you old stuff they don’t want anymore? Do you wonder if gifts of personal property like art collections and furniture are really worth your time and effort?

Don’t rule out gifts of personal property just yet. The “stuff” you receive could be worth a fortune, depending on who owned it. In the past few months, auctions of memorabilia have seen personal items belonging to celebrities result in tremendous gift income.

For example, Marilyn Monroe’s famous silk gown she wore to sing Happy Birthday to President Kennedy sold for almost $1.3 million. Celebrity and sports fan Billy Crystal bought one of Mickey Mantle’s baseball gloves for $239,000. And baseball great Ty Cobb’s dentures were auctioned for almost $8,000!

Memorabilia from Elvis Presley’s estate was auctioned off in October. The proceeds—approximately $5 million—will benefit charity through the establishment of Presley Place, a campus providing transitional housing for homeless families in Memphis.

The lesson here may be to review gift acceptance policies and ensure that procedures are in place to make sure that offers of gifts consisting of property other than cash, real estate, or securities are not rejected without proper consideration.

High tech execs make high dollar gifts

Three computer entrepreneurs have made big donations to charity in recent weeks. Jim Clark, founder of the Internet search engine Netscape, gave $150 million in stock to Stanford University. The Paul G. Allen Forest Protection Foundation, established by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, gave $3.4 million to help save a forest in the state of Washington. And William Porter, founder of E*Trade, and his wife, Joan, donated $25 million to MIT.

These gifts once again call attention to the fact that many of the largest gifts made each year are completed by those who have created their wealth. Efforts aimed at discovering and cultivating the entrepreneurs among your constituency can thus be time well spent.

The publisher of Give & Take is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Give & Take may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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