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Cornell University Foundation—Donor Advised Fund


The Cornell University Foundation is a convenient, cost-effective alternative to commercial charitable gift funds or the legal complexities and expense of establishing and operating a private foundation.


What is the Cornell University Foundation?

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.

Why should I consider the Cornell University Foundation?

Enhance Your Philanthropy

  • Follow your own timetable. Donor-advised distributions can be immediate or deferred until you are ready to make them.
  • There are no minimum annual distributions to charity, unlike a private foundation.
  • You can give your children or other family members advisory privileges to carry on your philanthropy. This can instill philanthropic values among your family.

It’s Easy

  • It’s easy to establish and add to your account.
  • Give to multiple charities with no checks to write.
  • Cornell provides the administrative record keeping and tax reporting.
  • Full documentation will be provided to you, your family, and the charitable recipient.

Tax Benefits

  • Gifts are income tax-deductible in the year of your contribution.
  • Avoid capital-gain tax on gifts of appreciated assets.
  • Remove assets from your taxable estate.

Excellent Fund Management

  • Making gifts of appreciated assets through the foundation is advantageous to you and to charities not equipped to sell stock or real estate.
  • Your gift will be invested in the endowment of Cornell University, benefiting from professional investment management.

Who is an eligible donor?

Individuals, trusts, estates, and companies (a wise alternative to establishing costly corporate giving programs).

What assets can I contribute?

Cash, marketable securities, closely held stock, gifts-in-kind, real estate, stock options, pre-IPO or venture stock, retirement-plan funds, and insurance.

Can I transfer an account from a commercial donor-advised fund?

Absolutely. Call us for assistance.

What’s the minimum contribution?

The minimum initial foundation gift is $100,000. All gifts are irrevocable. Additional contributions of any amount can be made at any time during your lifetime and through your estate.

What portion must I commit to Cornell?

For accounts under $500,000, 50% or more of the funds contributed must eventually be allocated to Cornell. For accounts greater than $500,000, 25% must be allocated to Cornell. The balance can go to any recognized charity in the U.S. For accounts greater than $1,000,000, there is no minimum Cornell allocation.

How does Cornell recognize my contribution?

You will receive gift credit for the portion of your gift allocated to Cornell. Also, you will be invited to join the Cornell University Cayuga Society. This is a society that honors individuals who have established a planned gift at Cornell.

How can Cornell’s gift planning office be of assistance?

We are charitable planning specialists and have resources available to fully support both your investigation and implementation of gift planning techniques. Our services are professional, confidential, collaborative, and provided without cost or obligation. We encourage you to call on us to assist you, your family, and advisors in exploring financial, estate, and charitable planning.

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