A History of Charitable Gift Planning

A History of Charitable Gift Giving
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How Gift Annuities Shaped American Philanthropy 

Called “a joy to read,” this is an unforgettable record of gift planning in America.  It will give you new perspectives on how gift annuities took shape over many decades, and why donors continue to choose fixed annuities to support the work of nonprofit organizations.

Practices developed for gift annuity programs shaped American philanthropy, including partnerships among banks, actuaries, attorneys and other professional service providers; the valuation of life income gifts; Federal and state regulation and legislation; professional training, research, and ethical standards.

Ron Brown brings people and events to life:

    1. Explore the “roots” of life-income gifts: commercial annuities and mortality tables in classical Rome; Benedictine usufructs in medieval Italy; corrodies and charitable trusts in medieval and Renaissance England.
    2. Enjoy the story of how John Trumbull gave his best paintings of the American Revolution to Yale in 1831 in exchange for an annuity of $1,000. Our country’s best visual records of the men, women, and events of the struggle for independence were preserved through a planned gift.
    3. See the ingenuity of American donors and advisors in gift proposals made to the American Bible Society in the 1830s-1840s. Luther Bradish made a strong case for life-income gift programs in 1848.  An international campaign by the ABS produced 4,615 annuity bond contracts from 1920-1930.  Lobbying by nonprofits resulted in New York State approving gift annuities in 1925.
    4. Understand why a national solution was needed for managing the risks of gift-annuity programs. George Augustus Huggins adapted commercial ideas in an “ideal plan” of best practices for nonprofits.  Actuaries measured the greatest longevity improvements in recorded history.  Economists and bankers analyzed the financial landscape and provided investment advice during the Great Depression, World War II, and post-war eras.
Trumbull Declaration
John Trumbull gave The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 and many other paintings to Yale in 1831 in exchange for a $1,000 annuity.

A History of Charitable Gift Planning shows the origins of familiar practices and institutions: financing the first college art gallery through a planned gift; introduction of an actuarial basis for annuity payment rates and valuation of the charitable deduction; creation of a national system for tracking and influencing legislative and judicial developments affecting philanthropy; continuous refinements in America’s longest series of fundraising conferences for professional development and networking.

A History of Charitable Gift Planning is an indispensable reference book that provides texts of important documents: Yale’s gift annuity contracts (1831); the Bradish Report: On the Matter of Accepting Trusts (1848); and George Huggins’s Actuarial Basis of Rates (1927).  Three timelines highlight significant events.  An extensive bibliography and footnotes encourage further study and support new research.

Clearly written and accessible, A History of Charitable Gift Planning should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in American philanthropy.

Author Ron Brown is a trained historian. A Commander in the US Navy Reserve, he was decorated for research and writing by the Naval Historical Center and wrote similar historical narratives for the Naval War College. Ron has directed gift planning programs at Princeton University, Columbia University, Fordham University, United Way of America, and the National Wildlife Federation.

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