Planned gifts come in many forms that can help you with your personal financial goals, such as paying an income or protecting your assets, while giving to Cornell. Here are the most popular financial tools for gift planning and how each works.

Gift Annuities

  • A gift annuity, the simplest life-income agreement, is a contract between Cornell and a donor that is established with a gift of $10,000 or more. In exchange for this generous gift the donor will receive guaranteed payments at stated intervals for life. Donors often use Charitable Gift Annuity payments to support themselves, spouses or other loved ones. In the case of an immediate gift annuity, payments will begin right away at the first calendar period following the contribution. In the case of a deferred gift annuity, payments begin at a designated time in the future. Typically, cash or other appreciated property is contributed to initiate the contract. Together we can explore the potential tax advantages of each type of contribution and determine the amount of payments you would receive throughout your lifetime.

    Please contact our office today and ask us for a complimentary Charitable Gift Annuity illustration.

    Interested in learning more? Please download our factsheet on Gift Annuities (PDF, 1MB).


Charitable Remainder Trusts

  • A charitable remainder trust is an irrevocable transfer of assets into a trust that will provide distributions to named beneficiaries for up to twenty years or life. At the end of the trust term, the remainder will go to Cornell. There are two types of charitable remainder trusts. In the case of a charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT), the annual payments are fixed at a specific percentage based on the value of the trust assets when it is established. In the case of a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT), the payments will be variable; the trust portfolio is revalued each year, and the beneficiary payments are set at a fixed percentage of that value. Cash, appreciated securities, or appreciated real estate, are examples of assets that are commonly transferred to establish such a trust. However, careful gift planning can afford additional flexibility with your contribution so that other assets, such as artwork and business interests can also be viable options.

    The timing of your gift and its potential for tax advantages are important factors to consider when deciding whether a CRAT or a CRUT is best for you, so please consider us a resource.

    Contact our office today to start a conversation and receive a complimentary Charitable Remainder Trust illustration.

    Interested in learning more? Please download our factsheet on Charitable Remainder Trusts (PDF, 5MB).


Charitable Lead Trust

  • The Charitable Lead Trust can be an attractive gift vehicle when a donor’s goal is to make a generous gift to Cornell and achieve certain income or estate tax planning objectives. An advantage of the Charitable Lead Trust is that the gift to Cornell is made “up front” so the donor can see their philanthropy in action. A Charitable Lead Trust holds income-producing assets for a term of years, or for the lifetime of an individual, during which time annual payments are designated to Cornell—either a fixed annuity payment, or a “unitrust” payment that varies annually based on the trust’s performance. At the end of the term, the trust assets revert back to the donor, or to the donor’s selected recipients, often either children or grandchildren. Please contact our office to learn more about Charitable Lead Trusts.

Donor-Advised Fund

  • A service for Cornell alumni and friends, the Cornell University Foundation—A Donor Advised Fund is a convenient and cost-effective option for individuals who make substantial gifts to charity and have a number of philanthropic interests. It offers an alternative to commercial charitable gift funds or the legal complexities and expense of operating a private foundation.

    Once an account is established with contributions, donors advise Cornell of gifts they would like to make to eligible charities. The university handles all payments and administration, providing full documentation to donors and the charitable organizations that benefit from their gifts.

    A donor can establish a DAF account with a gift of $100,000 and has the option to make additional contributions whenever they wish. For accounts under $500,000, at least 50% of the gift must be designated over time to Cornell University programs, with the remaining balance available to other charitable organizations. For accounts greater than $500,000, 25% must be allocated to Cornell. For accounts greater than $1,000,000, there is no minimum Cornell allocation. In return for their gift, the donor is eligible for a tax deduction for the full value in the year your gift is made, subject to IRS guidelines; and will receive gift credit for the portion of your gift allocated to Cornell, and an invitation to join the Cayuga Society.

    Already have a CU Foundation - Donor-Advised Fund? Make a disbursement now.

    We are here to help you better understand the options that are available to you. Please contact our office to learn more about our Donor-Advised fund.

    Interested in learning more? Please download our Factsheet on Donor-Advised Funds (PDF, 4MB).


Beneficiary designations

  • A beneficiary designation is one of the simplest ways to make a gift to Cornell. You can specify the individuals and charities you want to support and the percentage of the assets you want each to receive. The most common way to designate a beneficiary is through retirement assets or a life insurance policy, but nearly all financial assets have a way to direct the distribution of an asset to a person or charity. Beneficiary designations can be an effective tool to simplify the distribution of your estate while avoiding cost and time associated with probate.

    Please contact our office and let us explore the ways to name Cornell as a beneficiary of an asset you own.


Charitable bequests

  • A gift made through a bequest in your will, trust, or via a beneficiary designation, is among the easiest ways to plan for your future philanthropy. By making a bequest, you can acknowledge all that Cornell has meant to you and your family in a meaningful way. In turn, you make a lasting difference for the university.

    We recognize that telling us your bequest plans and beneficiary designations does not constitute a binding commitment. However, telling us about your plans allows us to record your estimated gift and have the files in order at the time of your estate settlement. As a result, you will be a recognized for your commitment and welcomed into the Cayuga Society.

    Have you changed your estate plan? Please complete our bequest intention form.

    We have prepared a file to download (PDF, 140 KB) with sample bequest language. If you need additional information about making a charitable bequest please contact our office.


Planned gift administration

  • Our team is the interface between two strategic offices, the Cornell Investment Office and BNY Mellon Wealth Management. The Cornell Investment Office manages all financial aspects of Cornell assets including our charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts that are invested alongside our endowment, whereas BNY Mellon Wealth Management manages the administrative aspects of those accounts and serves as our contracted service provider. BNY Mellon Wealth Management also serves as our investment manager for those accounts not invested alongside our endowment. Our team oversees the entire program to ensure it operates smoothly and that you receive timely payments and relevant tax information. Please contact our office if you ever need additional support.

Students walk through Minns Garden towards the Plant Sciences Building in fall.

Explore your choices

Your gift can support Cornell and provide benefits to you and your loved ones. Provide some basic information and discover the outcome of various giving scenarios. Our staff can then help you review your options in more detail.