n Lucy Skidmore Scribner: A Memoir, G. Hinman Barrett recounts how his “Aunt Lucy” oversaw her young institution’s finances. “Her first step was a gift of $400,000 to establish an endowment fund. That sum loomed large in the early nineteen hundreds, but as the school grew, income from endowment investments. . . became quite inadequate.” Mrs. Scribner knew that the fledgling college must have an adequate endowment —in fact, she bequeathed most of her own estate to Skidmore College.
What would Mrs. Scribner say if she heard that Skidmore had received a record-setting $6 million in bequests in 1999-2000? And over $5 million the previous year? What would she say to those twenty-five alumni, parents, friends, and faculty whose foresight and generosity provided that unprecedented support last year? Or to the 550 members of the Skidmore family who have planned a bequest for the college’s future?
Awed by gratitude, the characteristically quiet Mrs. Scribner might be speechless. But Charlotte Smith King ’35 is eager to spread the good word. A Class of ’35 fund chair, King wants people to know about the bequests and other planned gifts coming Skidmore’s way. “It’s nice to see that so many people are remembering the college in their estate plans. I’m especially thrilled that members
of my class have been able to give such wonderful estate gifts, and I want others to know about that.” Louise Lueder ’35, for instance, left Skidmore a remarkable bequest of nearly $5 million, and in 1998 Marjorie Saisselin Woodbury ’35 made an estate gift of over $3 million.
Bequest support for Skidmore has been rising significantly in recent years. Between 1988 and 2000, the college received more than $20 million in bequests. Last year’s $6 million included estate gifts from Kathryn Wiecking ’53, Elisabeth Gannon ’27, Elizabeth McCormick ’31, and Louise Benton Wagner ’59, as well as from professor emerita Margaret Paulding, friend of the college Jerome Pitney, and Skidmore parent Alan B. Cox.
“Older colleges have been seeing this sort of support for years, and it’s helped to build their endowments,” notes Charlotte King, adding, “Now Skidmore is catching up!” And it’s likely that Skidmore’s bequest growth will continue. One reason is that the college is now simply old enough to have alumni who are at an age to contemplate estate planning. Another reason is that the parents of today’s “baby boomers” have accumulated more wealth than previous generations and are now passing away and leaving charitable bequests. Third, taxpayers value the tax deductions they can take for charitable bequests. And, of course, members of the Skidmore family know that their estate gifts will ensure that Skidmore provides an excellent education for future generations.
Bequests are just one element in planned giving. In 1999-2000 Skidmore received $2.5 million in deferred gifts such as charitable trusts and annuities. Gifts of this sort have been rising steadily as well, for the same reasons that affect bequest giving. In deferred giving, the principle is given over immediately and is invested to provide the donor with lifelong income. After the lifetime-income recipients pass away, the gift assets are directed to the college.
Clifford Roberts, father of three Skidmore graduates, has funded four annuities with Skidmore. Each pays him a guaranteed annuity, and after his death the annuity assets will be added to the Roberts Sisters Scholarship Fund. Using appreciated securities (stocks that have risen in value) to fund the annuities, Roberts avoided much of the capital-gains tax that would apply if he had sold the stock. He also received an immediate charitable-gift tax deduction for part of the gift. In addition to those benefits, says Roberts, “I love knowing that the gift proceeds will one day be added to our Roberts Sisters Scholarship Fund to benefit future Skidmore students. It’s a good feeling.”
To acknowledge those with Skidmore in their estate plans, the college recently formed the Josephine Young Case Associates. Chaired by former trustee Barbara Underhill Collyer ’52, the group helps to showcase the support Skidmore receives from planned gifts and to encourage others to think about Skidmore in their financial planning. Case Associates membership is extended to all who inform the college of their bequest provisions or complete a planned gift such as a charitable trust or annuity. There is no minimum amount required—gifts of any size are gratefully accepted.
Regardless of gift size, says Charlotte King, “what’s important is that people are remembering to include the college in their plans. That will really have a wonderful impact on the Skidmore of tomorrow.” Mrs. Scribner would doubtless agree.