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News Release

Giving Back: More Than One Way to Support Your Alma Mater

September 15, 2015

CFP Board Consumer Advocate shares charitable giving opportunities for alumni

Every college graduate receives the phone calls, mailings, and emails from their alma mater, urging them to give back, to contribute to scholarship funds, student programming, and campus capital projects. And many do, sending in generous checks to their college or university. But as CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP® describes in her latest contribution to, there are influential ways to give back to one’s alma mater in addition to a cash gift to the annual fund, affording benefits for both the donor and the institution.

“Graduating from a college or university is a magnificent milestone in our life journey,” says Blayney. “It’s only fitting to give back to the educators and institutions that prepared us to succeed in the working world. But there are many other – oftentimes smarter – ways to benefit your alma mater besides the traditional cash gift. And the best way to give depends – on the size of the gift, its intended impact, and the donor’s financial circumstances.”

Blayney outlines opportunities to give back to colleges and universities, based on the donor’s desires and circumstances:

  • Small and Simple: While predominately cash gifts are typically small, requiring little involvement, they can still be strategic donations, with benefits for both the donor and the alma mater. Another relatively simple form of giving might include establishing a donor advised fund through a community foundation, or custodial broker or mutual fund.
  • Planned Giving: Other giving options involve taking an asset and splitting its value between two beneficiaries, one of which is a college or university, or designating assets to be gifted at a later date via a charitable trust. Because of the complexity and expenses involved in making these arrangements, such approaches are generally reserved for gifts of $100,000 or more, and require careful planning and coordination with the donor’s CFP® professional and attorney.
  • Visionary Gifts: These donations, often considerably large, reflect the donor’s personal intent and vision for the gift, and are meant to have a positive impact on the educational institution’s future stability and prosperity, while also serving as a personal memorial for the donor. Given the amount of money involved, donors play an active role in how the money will be utilized, including through improvements to capital infrastructure or endowed scholarships or professorships.

“Making a thoughtful, strategic charitable donation to your alma mater requires more than a check or signature,” says Blayney. “A CFP® professional can help you decide the appropriate charitable route that aligns with your financial goals, while also ensuring benefits for your beloved college or university.”