The most common form in which Lawrence receives contributions, and the one most helpful to the college, is the simple outright gift of cash or securities. In general, an outright gift qualifies for an immediate income tax deduction for the full fair market value of the property contributed, subject to allowable contribution ceilings (about which see below). In the case of gifts of appreciated securities held for more than one year, the donor will entirely avoid capital gains taxes on the contributed property.
Gifts of Cash
The easiest way to give, cash gifts offer a tax deduction for the full amount of the gift in the year it is made. Cash gifts may be made via U.S. currency, check, electronic funds transfer (EFT), wire transfer, Discover, American Express, MasterCard, or Visa. You can also make a gift immediately online. Your company may match your gift to the college with an equivalent gift of its own.
Gifts of Securities
Gifts of long-term appreciated stock or securities (those held more than a year) in publicly traded companies can be highly advantageous because the allowable deduction is based on the securities' market value, not the donor's cost, and no tax is imposed on the capital gain.
Gifts of publicly traded securities can be made either by delivering the certificates to the college (in person or by mail) or by transfer of ownership through a broker. If you intend to contribute securities to the college, we ask that you please call the Development Office to alert the college and to expedite delivery and gift crediting. You may call 800-283-8320, Ext. 6517, or 920-832-6517.
If the donor holds certificates for the securities to be given, the simplest delivery method is to mail them to the college. We’ll need a signed, stock power of attorney form ("stock power") to transfer ownership. You can receive the form by contacting the Lawrence Development Office, your broker, or an officer at your bank.
Put the unsigned certificates in one envelope with a cover letter expressing your intention to give the securities to Lawrence, indicating the purpose of the gift. Put the signed stock power form and a copy of your transmittal letter in a separate envelope and mail both envelopes at the same time, preferably by registered mail. (This ensures that the certificates are not negotiable until both envelopes are received.)
If securities held in a brokerage account are to be donated, you may instruct the broker to transfer specific holdings to the account of Lawrence University on the books of the brokerage house. The college maintains accounts with a number of national and regional brokerage firms for this purpose, and account numbers will be provided to you if you wish to make a gift in this fashion.
Alternatively, Lawrence can supply instructions for the electronic transfer of shares from the donor's account to Lawrence's preferred broker in Appleton. Securities Transfer Instructions
Whether you mail the shares, deliver them in person, or transfer them on the books of a brokerage firm, the date of transfer will determine the value of your gift for tax purposes. If you mail certificates to us, the transfer date will be the postmark date. If you deliver them to a staff member of the college, the transfer date will be the date that representative takes possession. If you work through a broker, the transfer will occur for tax purposes when the shares have been delivered to the college's account. In all these cases, the value of the gift will be the average of the high and low prices for the security on the transfer date, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
The income tax deduction for gifts of securities held for more than one year is based on the fair market value of the gift on the day Lawrence assumes control of the shares and is limited to 30 percent of the donor's "contribution base" (usually equal to adjusted gross income) in the year of the gift. As with gifts of cash, any "excess" may be carried forward in as many as five additional years.
Gifts of Mutual Fund Shares
Gifts of mutual fund shares for funds invested in stocks and bonds are generally similar to gifts of securities. The donor transfers ownership to Lawrence and is entitled to an income tax deduction for the value of the shares on the date the college assumes control of them. The capital gain treatment of contributions of mutual fund shares is identical to that of individual securities. If the gift is outright, no capital gains tax is due. Because gifts of mutual funds generally require Lawrence to establish an account with the company administering the fund, extra time should be allowed for this kind of transfer.
Gifts of Real Estate
Whether a primary residence, a seasonal home, a commercial property, or a parcel of farmland, real estate can be turned into an intelligent charitable gift. Because such gifts require advance consideration and approval from representatives of the college's Board of Trustees, it is important to involve representatives of the college early in preparing for them.
Gifts of Personal Property
Assets related to the educational mission of Lawrence (books, art works, scientific or historical collections, etc.) generate tax deductions equal to the fair market value of the gift. Gifts of property unrelated to the college's purpose are deductible on the basis of their cost to the donor. When appropriate, Lawrence retains the right to add such items to its permanent collections or inventories. The college also may sell the items and use the proceeds to generate capital for a purpose specified by the donor.