Gifts of Securities

Appreciated stocks and bonds are, next to cash, the most popular assets donated to Columbia by alumni and friends. If you are considering a donation of $1,000 dollars or more, consider these advantages of giving securities

  • If you file an itemized return, you are entitled to a federal income-tax charitable deduction. Many state income-tax laws also allow for a charitable deduction.
  • If the donated items have been held long-term (12 months or longer), you may claim a deduction for their full fair-market value.
  • When appreciated securities are donated, you avoid paying tax on the capital gain.

Note: Always discuss donations with your tax consultant to maximize your benefits.

How to Make a Gift of Securities

Transfers from a Bank or Broker
If the securities are held by your bank or broker, it is usually best to transfer them electronically via the Depository Trust Company (DTC) system.

First, contact the Treasury Services Office by contacting Avi Mimun at or (212) 854-9692. We will need the following information:

  • your name and address
  • the name and ticker symbol of the security
  • the number of shares
  • the school or department gift fund you wish to be credited
Once we have that information we will provide you with instructions for your broker to complete the transfer via DTC.

Transmittal of Certificates

If you hold the securities in certificate form:

First, send by registered mail or deliver by hand unendorsed certificates with a letter of transmittal describing the purpose of your gift:

Columbia University
Office of the Treasurer
Treasury Services
1700 Broadway, 10th Floor
Mail Code 7711
New York, NY 10019

Second, in a separate envelope, mail or deliver a stock or bond power for each security. Be sure to include a copy of your transmittal letter with the power. You can obtain blank powers from the Office of Planned Giving, your bank, or your broker. On the stock power, fill in only the description of the security and sign your name exactly as it appears on the face of the certificate. Do not fill in Columbia University's name as transferee or attorney to transfer on either the certificate(s) or stock power(s).

Limits on the Deductibility of Securities Gifts

A gift of long-term appreciated securities may be claimed as an income-tax charitable deduction in the year of the gift up to a limit of 30 percent of your adjusted gross income. Any excess deduction not claimed may be carried forward for an additional five years. If the donated securities were held less than 12 months, only your cost basis is deductible.

Splitting Certificates

Columbia can arrange for a stock certificate or bond to be split in the event you wish to give fewer than the number of shares or bonds than the certificate represents. If you are holding the stock certificate or bond, simply send it to us in accordance with the procedures outlined above and indicate in your cover letter your Social Security number and the number of shares (or the dollar amount of the bonds) you wish to donate. Your signature on the stock or bond power must bear a medallion signature guarantee, which can be obtained from the bank or broker. Columbia will arrange for a new bond or a new certificate for the remaining shares to be issued and returned to you. Of course, if your securities are held by a broker, the broker can arrange for the certificate or bond to be split.

Effective Date and Valuation of Your Gift

If the security is transferred electronically through DTC:
The average of the high and low prices on the date of gift, which is the day the security is received into our brokerage account.

If the physical certificate is sent by U.S. mail:
The average of the high and low prices on the date of gift, which is the postmark. If the certificate and the stock power are sent on different dates, the later date will be used.

If the certificate is hand delivered:
The average of the high and low prices on the date of gift, which is the date the University takes physical possession of either the certificate or the stock power, whichever is later. Please note that the IRS does not accept your receipt from private carriers such as Federal Express as evidence of mailing. Thus, if you need to substantiate a year-end gift, we suggest you use the U.S. Postal Service.

If there are no sales on the date of gift (i.e. a weekend) an inverse weighted average of the mean between the highest and lowest sales on the nearest date before and after the date of gift will be used. The average is weighted inversely by the respective number of trading days between the dates.

Gifts of Closely Held Stock

You may be unaware that you may make gifts of closely held stock and other non-readily marketable securities and, moreover, that they offer many tax advantages. These gifts involve special handling, however, and you are urged to contact the Office of Planned Giving to explore the alternatives for structuring the gift.

Depreciated Securities

If you hold securities that have declined in value, it is generally advisable not to donate them but rather to sell them to establish a tax loss and then donate the proceeds to Columbia.

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