Excelsior: The Campaign for Hamilton

Ways to Give

There are several ways to participate in the Excelsior Campaign. All provide tax advantages; some allow for lifetime payments to the donor or other beneficiaries; each may be directed by the donor to meet a specific campaign purpose. Members of the campaign staff welcome the opportunity to provide more information or to answer questions about the options described below.

Gifts of Cash

The simplest method of giving to Hamilton is to write a check. Cash contributions comprise the majority of gifts to the College.

Transfer Long-Term Appreciated Property

Individuals who contribute appreciated property held long-term to Hamilton generally receive two important tax benefits. First, donors pay no capital gains tax on the property's appreciation. Second, donors are entitled to deduct for income tax purposes the full fair market value of the property.

Marketable Securities.  Gifts of long-term appreciated securities generate an income tax deduction for their fair market value.  Since the charitable deduction and the avoidance of capital gains tax substantially reduce the actual cost of a gift, many donors prefer to fulfill campaign commitments by contributing appreciated securities rather than cash.    

When giving marketable securities to Hamilton, donors may send the stock certificates, unsigned, to:

Executive Director, Annual Giving and Alumni Programs
Hamilton College
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Instructions regarding the gifts should be included. In a separate envelope, donors should also send one signed stock power for each certificate. As an alternative, donors may instruct their broker or bank to transfer shares directly to Hamilton's account; the broker or bank representative should call the Executive Director, Annual Giving and Alumni Programs, at the College (866-729-0315), who will expedite such transfers.

Closely-Held Securities. In appropriate situations, contributions of stock in closely held corporations may offer attractive benefits for donors. An individual may be able to maintain control of the company, while obtaining favorable income tax and capital gains tax treatment.

Real Estate: Outright Gift.  Personal residences and vacation homes, undeveloped land, commercial buildings and farmland are just some of the real estate holdings that can be given to Hamilton. Real estate often comprises the bulk of an individual's assets. Potential problems of estate liquidity can be relieved and current income tax and capital gains tax benefits can be accomplished through a contribution of appreciated real estate to the College.

Real Estate: Life Occupancy. An individual may give a personal residence or farm to Hamilton and continue to use the property for life or a specified number of years. The available income tax deduction takes into account the value of the land and improvements, plus the age of the life tenant(s) or term of years.

Other Property. Many other types of property may be contributed to Hamilton: works of art, antique furniture and collections of books, jewelry, stamps or coins. Staff members of the Excelsior Campaign stand ready to discuss with you and your advisors about such gifts and their tax implications.

Lifetime Payments For You

It is possible to participate in the Excelsior Campaign by making a gift that produces either variable payments or fixed payments for the life of the donor and/or a designated beneficiary. Life payment gifts are ideal for individuals who rely on continuing income from their investment assets.

Life payment gifts also may be appropriate for those who wish to increase the amount of income they currently receive from appreciated property held long-term. Irrevocable life payment gifts are accompanied by income, capital gains and estate tax advantages. In all cases, donors may specify how they wish Hamilton to use their contributions.

Gift Annuities. In exchange for cash or marketable securities, Hamilton pays a specific annuity in quarterly installments for life. The fixed payment amount and charitable deduction are based on the age of the annuitant; part of the annuity may be a tax-free return of principal. The minimum gift is $5,000. Hamilton's annuity program is regulated by the Insurance Department of the State of New York and backed by all of the College's liquid assets.

Deferred Payment Gift Annuities. This variation of the gift annuity enables the donor to defer payments for one or more years, perhaps until an expected retirement date when the distributions may be taxed at lower rates. As the deferral period increases, the charitable deduction and fixed payments increase. The minimum gift is $2,000.

Charitable Remainder Trusts. The charitable remainder trust is another gift opportunity that makes payments to the donor and/or others. The determination of the income return is the major difference between the two forms of charitable remainder trusts: the unitrust and the annuity trust. The amount paid annually from the unitrust is a fixed percentage of the assets as valued once each year; the annuity trust pays a fixed dollar amount yearly, based on the initial fair market value of the trust. Unitrusts provide the potential benefit of payments that grow over time. Charitable remainder trusts may be funded with real property as well as with cash or securities. The minimum gift is $100,000.

Assets For Your Family

Charitable Lead Trusts. The charitable lead trust is designed for those individuals who wish to leave substantial assets to family members at reduced transfer (gift and estate) tax cost. It is the mirror image of the life payment arrangements described above, as the trust makes payments to Hamilton for a predetermined number of years. At the end of that period, the trust property (original principal and appreciation) is distributed to a family member(s) without further erosion by transfer tax.

Multiply Your Gift

Many employers sponsor matching gift programs that will match a current employee's gift to Hamilton by as much as three-to-one. Gifts from retired employees, spouses and directors also may be eligible for a matching gift. Donors are encouraged to obtain matching gift forms from their personnel office or community relations department. A person's own participation in the Excelsior Campaign will increase, and Hamilton will benefit when a matching gift form accompanies a contribution.

Note: This information was prepared in December 2004. It is intended to be a general guide to participation in the Excelsior Campaign. For additional details, please call 800-222-6381 or write:

Richard C. Tantillo
Vice President, Communications and Development
Hamilton College
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

An individual's own legal and financial advisors should be consulted to determine how a particular gift to Hamilton will affect the personal situation of the donor.