About Charitable Gifts (with Strings!)

Did you know Swathmore college promised to stop participating in collegiate sports back in 1907? You didn’t? Well that’s because they made no such promise. But a donor with a purpose dangled $3 million dollars in front of them if they would do exactly that. If you aren’t up on your intercollegiate sports, Swathmore is still an active participant, they turned down the gift.

Now this is a more extreme example of adding some strings to charitable gifts, but it is very common for people to add strings when gifting to charity. For example, a lot of times people want to make sure they are recognized by name or they want to honor someone with their gift. That’s a string (albeit a pretty small one). Sometimes donors want the money to go to a particular purpose, for example giving to your college alma mater’s business school. That’s a little bit of a bigger string, but probably still very welcome (as long as your alma mater has a business school!). Lycoming College has a scholarship fund left by Mr. John E. Morgan with first preference of scholarships going to a student who has graduated from a Tamaqua area high school. Second preference is given to Schuylkill County, PA high school graduates.

Now, if you’re like me, you just went, Tamaqua? Never heard of it. A little googling, my friends, and we discover it has a population of just 7,000 people. A little more googling and I found that the high school has a total of about 700 kids. That’s something like 175 kids graduating a year. If Mr. Morgan had only allowed his scholarship for Tamaqua High grads, he would only have a maximum pool of 175 people per year—and that’s if they all wanted to go to Lycoming!

Now that we all know more about the town of Tamaqua than we thought we ever would, let me get to the point. Luckily Mr. Morgan created a tier system for his scholarship to allow for more potential scholarship candidates. Even so. I did not further my investigation to see if Lycoming is able to award this scholarship every year. Maybe they do or maybe they don’t.

If you are leaving a gift to charity, I assume you probably want the charity to be able to use the money. And sure, you might have some strings. That’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s important to make sure that you don’t create strings so huge and complicated that the money can’t be used at all.

Special Workshop Announcement

I see this all the time and I do my best to help clients achieve their charitable giving goals through their estate planning. But I’m no expert. So, I’m gathering some together for a SPECIAL VIRTUAL WORKSHOP in 2022! I will soon announce a date and time and the full panel, but the panel will consist of representatives from a few charities and answer all your questions to help you understand how to create your charitable giving plan in a way that furthers your intent, while also supporting the charities you believe in.