Carnegie Mellon University Menu
Stocks & Bonds

Make a gift of publicly-traded securities to Carnegie Mellon University and potentially save tax on income and capital gains.

A gift of publicly-traded securities could be right for you if:

  • You own publicly-traded securities that you bought at least one year ago.
  • Some of these securities have increased in value since you bought them.
  • Some of these securities may provide you with little or no income.
  • You would like to make a gift to Carnegie Mellon University.

How it works

  • You transfer shares of one or more publicly-traded securities, such as stock, bonds, and mutual funds, to Carnegie Mellon.
  • The two most common ways to give publicly-traded securities are to make an outright gift of your securities or to give your securities while maintaining the right to receive income payments for life.

What are publicly-traded securities?

Publicly-traded securities are stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles whose values are readily available from an established securities market.  For example, stocks listed on the New York or NASDAQ stock exchange are publicly-traded securities. 

Are mutual fund shares publicly-traded securities?
Although mutual funds are sold by individual mutual fund companies rather than on an exchange, the same charitable contribution rules apply to mutual fund shares as to shares of publicly-traded securities.

Tax benefits of contributing publicly-traded securities
You can save income tax and capital gains tax when you give shares of publicly-traded securities that you have owned for a year or more. In this scenario, you may benefit from a charitable income tax deduction as well as avoiding any long term capital gains on your appreciated asset.

Income tax benefit
If you have held your securities for more than one year, and provided you itemize, you may deduct from your taxable income the full fair market value of your shares as of the date of your donation, regardless of what you paid for them.  Your deduction is limited to 30% of your adjusted gross income.  You may, however, carry forward any unused portion of your deduction for up to five additional years.

Capital gains tax benefit
When you donate publicly-traded securities that have increased in value and you have owned the securities for more than one year, you do not have to report any of your capital gain in the securities.  If you were to sell these securities yourself, you would owe capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price and the amount you paid for them.

Should I give my securities or sell them and give the proceeds?
You should give your securities directly to Carnegie Mellon University.  If you sell your securities first and then give us the proceeds, you will have to pay capital gains tax on all of your capital gain, an unnecessary and potentially substantial cost to you.

What is the advantage of giving appreciated stock instead of cash?
When you make a charitable gift of cash, you get a charitable income tax deduction only.  When you make a charitable gift of the same value with appreciated stock, you get the same charitable income tax deduction and you avoid capital gains tax on all of your capital gain.  The more highly appreciated the security, the more capital gains tax you will avoid.

The chart below shows how making a gift with appreciated stock can save substantially more taxes than making the same size gift with cash. 

Cash Gift vs. Stock Gift


Cash Gift

Stock Gift

a.   Gift Value



b.   Income tax deduction



c.   Income tax saved (@ 37% rate)




d.   Purchase price



e.   Increase in value (a - d)



f.    Tax avoided on gain (@ 20% rate)




g.   Total tax savings (c + f)



*assumes donor itemized deductions

What happens if I give securities that I bought less than one year ago?

The charitable deduction available for property you have owned for 12 months or less, so-called "short term capital gain" property, is limited to either its current full value or what you paid for it, whichever is less. In addition, your deduction is limited to 60% of your adjusted gross income rather than the usual 30%. For example, if you give CMU stock worth $10,000 that you purchased nine months ago for $1,000, your charitable deduction will be $1,000, not $10,000.

Is it easy to make a gift of publicly-traded securities?
Yes. Whether you plan to give one share or one thousand shares, it is easy to give your publicly-traded securities to us.  It can be as simple as completing a few forms. We are happy to assist you and your advisors with this process.

Give securities and receive payments for life
You may also consider for giving securities through a life income plan. This special arrangement allows you to provide income for yourself or others you care about and also provide support to Carnegie Mellon. Here's how it works:

1. You transfer securities to the life income plan.
2. During the term of the life income plan, you or individuals you designate receive payments from the plan each year, typically for life.
3. When the life income plan ends, its remaining principal goes to support Carnegie Mellon.

Using securities to fund a life income plan typically will reduce your income taxes, providing tax savings if you itemize, and reduce or eliminate your capital gains taxes. 

There are several life income plan options to choose from. The one that is right for you will depend on a variety of factors.  Please let us know if you would like to learn more.


George Dunlap would like to make a $10,000 gift to Carnegie Mellon University. While he could write a check for this amount, he will be able to save even more in taxes by giving stock worth $10,000 instead.  After reviewing his plans with his investment advisor, he decides to give shares of XYZ Corporation worth $10,000. He paid just $​1,000 for these shares when he bought them 20 years ago.


  • George will earn an income tax charitable deduction of $10,000, which will save him $3,700 (37% tax), provided he itemizes.
  • George may deduct up to 30% of his adjusted gross income in the year of the gift, with a five year carry-forward period.
  • He will avoid tax on $9,000 of capital gain, which will save him an additional $1,800 (20% tax).
  • He will gain the satisfaction of making a $10,000 gift to Carnegie Mellon University.