Giving Back: More Than One Way To Support Your Alma Mater


Giving Back: More Than One Way to Support Your Alma Mater


By Paul Jarvis, CFP®

Areavoices Financial Planning Blog


Every college graduate receives the phone calls, mailings, and emails from their alma mater, urging them to give back, to contribute to scholarship funds, student programming, and campus capital projects. And many do, sending in generous checks to their college or university

So many lives have been shaped through higher education prompting many to give back.  Before cutting the check, consider all of your options to ensure your giving plan matches your financial plan.

Opportunities for giving back to colleges and universities, based on the donor’s desires and circumstances, include:

  • Small and Simple: While predominantly cash gifts are typically small, requiring little involvement, they can still be strategic donations, with benefits for both the donor and the alma mater. Another relatively simple form of giving might include establishing a donor advised fund through a community foundation, or custodial broker or mutual fund.

  • Planned Giving: Other giving options involve taking an asset and splitting its value between two beneficiaries, one of which is a college or university, or designating assets to be gifted at a later date via a charitable trust. Because of the complexity and expenses involved in making these arrangements, such approaches are generally reserved for gifts of $100,000 or more, and require careful planning and coordination with the donor’s CFP® professional and attorney.

  • Visionary Gifts: These donations, often considerably large, reflect the donor’s personal intent and vision for the gift, and are meant to have a positive impact on the educational institution’s future stability and prosperity, while also serving as a personal memorial for the donor. Given the amount of money involved, donors play an active role in how the money will be utilized, including through improvements to capital infrastructure or endowed scholarships or professorships.

Before giving another donation to your alma mater, make a plan so that it’s done in a thoughtful and strategic way. A CFP® professional can guide you toward the appropriate charitable path that aligns with your financial goals, while providing benefits for your college or university.

The CFP Board describes influential ways to give back to one’s alma mater in addition to cash gifts to the annual fund, affording benefits for both the donor and the institution.  Learn more by visiting

ABOUT Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis is a CFP Board Ambassador and leads United Capital’s office in Fargo. See more at