Posted February 1st, 1999

In The News…

Nashville universities receive record-breaking gifts

Two institutions of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee, received impressive gifts at the close of 1998. Vanderbilt University announced a $300 million stock gift in December. This gift is reported to be the largest gift ever to an educational institution. The donor, Martha Ingram, is chairman of Ingram Industries of Nashville and is a member of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust. She has donated 20 million shares of Ingram Micro to the Ingram Charitable Fund, which will donate at least 40% of its income and assets to Vanderbilt.

Belmont University received a bequest worth more than $25 million. The gift came from the estate of Bernice Johnson who, along with her husband Ed, owned a service station across the street from Belmont. The Johnsons’ wealth grew from an $8,000 initial investment they made in the Nashville potato chip maker H.W. Lay & Co. in 1948.

Sources : The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, December 1, 1998, and The Tennessean, November 24, 1998

Janitorial workers donate tidy sums

Two recent gifts to higher education came from custodial workers who lived frugally and invested their modest assets wisely.

Denmark native Christian Thomsen, who died last year at age 101, left a planned gift of $1.1 million to Faith Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa. While Mr. Thomsen did not attend the college, his church had close ties to the school. Mr. Thomsen worked in maintenance at Northwestern Bell Telephone Company and as a custodian at an Iowa power plant. He never married or owned a car and invested much of his moderate earnings over the years in AT&T stock.

Seventy-five-year-old Regina Jennings, a cleaning woman for 15 years at West Virginia University College of Law, donated $93,000 to the school. Although she retired in 1989 from her custodial position, Mrs. Jennings said she never forgot the kindness of the students and faculty at the college.

Mrs. Jennings, who never made more than $10,000 a year as a maintenance worker, lives with her husband in a modest home near the university. She said she was able to make the substantial gift because of her investment of rent money from a piece of inherited property.

Sources : The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 1999, and USA Today, December 16, 1998

Wealthy give 8% of income to charity

In a survey conducted by U.S. Trust Corporation, the most affluent Americans gave an average of 8%
of their after-tax income to charitable organizations and institutions in 1997. This figure was up from an average of 5% in 1993. By comparison, the average American donated only 3% of after-tax income to charity.

The study was based on a survey of 150 people who rank in the richest 1% of all Americans–respondents had an annual adjusted gross income of over $225,000 or a net worth of at least $3 million. Most who were questioned said they had been able to increase their charitable contributions thanks to the booming stock market during the majority of the 1990s.

Jeffrey Maurer, president of U.S. Trust Corporation, said the survey also showed that the wealthy could give even more if they took greater advantage of gifts that offer tax savings that result in lower after-tax cost of gifts. For example, only one out of five respondents had made gifts of appreciated securities, which allow donors to donate funds that would otherwise be reduced by capital gains tax savings if sold. Even fewer of those surveyed had created a charitable remainder trust, which allows a donor to enjoy a number of income, capital gains, and estate tax savings while making what may be his or her “gift of a lifetime.”

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 3, 1998

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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