Real Estate & Property

You can support the college through gifts of real estate, personal property, life insurance, and retirement plan accumulations. Find information on these giving options below or contact Gray Dyer '96 at grdyer@davidson.edu or 704-894-2478 with questions.

Real Estate


You can give residential or commercial property, developed or undeveloped, either outright or to fund a life income plan. As every piece of land is unique, our Planned Giving and Finance offices must evaluate each parcel separately.

To be suitable for donation

  • Title to the land must be clear and marketable, and the property must be unencumbered by mortgage or other liens.
  • Land must be free of environmental problems such as asbestos, buried oil tanks, or other potential contaminants. An environmental audit sometimes is needed to ensure that the college is not liable for environmental cleanup costs.
  • An independent, professional appraisal of the land is necessary to satisfy Internal Revenue Service valuation requirements, and to establish appropriate gift credit for its fair market value. Under IRS rules, this appraisal must be in writing and performed no more than 60 days before the date of the donation.  


  • No signed contract for sale of the property may exist when the property is given to Davidson. If there is a signed contract, the step transaction doctrine will cause the property donor to realize all of the capital gains on the sale, even though title has passed to the college. The existence of a listing contract with a real estate broker will not violate this rule. 



If the property comes with significant carrying costs for utilities, maintenance, or property owners' association dues, restrictions on sale or use of the land, or if market conditions in the area are very unfavorable, it may not be in the college's best interest to accept a particular parcel.


In some cases it may be appropriate for the college to accept a partial interest in property. This may be an undivided fractional interest, or a future interest subject to a life estate retained by the donor. Please contact the Planned Giving Office to explore these possibilities.

Personal Property

You can give tangible items that contribute to our educational mission, such as art for the college's art collection, or accessions to the E.H. Little Library. You also can give items that can be sold, with the proceeds used to fund other needs of the college, such as scholarships or building funds.

Such gifts are accepted on a case-by-case basis, and typically require approval by the business office or the academic department receiving the item.


The Internal Revenue code and regulations governing the deductibility and documentation of gifts of art, books, and other tangible personal property are complex, detailed and subject to change.

Here's a brief outline:

  • Deductibility limits differ for "related use" and "unrelated use" property.
  • If the property you are donating is worth more than $5,000, or if the total value of your non-cash charitable gifts for the year is likely to exceed $5,000, you must obtain a qualified independent appraisal of the property, preferably before you transfer ownership to the college.
  • Under IRS rules, Davidson is not permitted to appraise your gift, or pay for the appraisal. 


The Planned Giving Office can discuss your proposed gift with the appropriate departments at the college, help you locate a qualified appraiser, provide tax documentation, and advise you on methods of packing and shipping your gift.

Life Insurance


You can name Davidson as the death beneficiary of your life insurance policy. It is simple and can be done through your insurance agent or the company office, though no immediate income tax deduction is available.



The college accepts gifts of whole-life insurance policies on a case-by-case basis, and donating a policy creates a charitable deduction. You may need to have the policy appraised to substantiate your tax deduction, and if there are loans on the policy you may need to pay them off prior to donation to avoid realizing a taxable gain.

Different insurance companies have somewhat different procedures for transferring ownership of such policies, and the Planned Giving Office can assist you with this process.
 Once ownership of a policy is transferred, the college will decide whether to leave the policy in force or cash it in immediately. If a policy owned by Davidson is kept in force, you may make annual gifts to cover policy premiums. These are deductible on your income tax return as they are made.

Retirement Plan Accumulations


You can designate the college as the residuary beneficiary of an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), TIAA-CREF, Keogh, or other retirement plan accumulation, or a qualified corporate benefits program.

Unfortunately, under the law currently in force, charitable beneficiary designations like these do not result in an immediate income tax deduction, and withdrawals from almost all retirement plans are taxed as current income, even if are rolled over directly into a charitable gift. They can, however, be made without modifying your will, and like bequests they remove property from your taxable estate, which can save estate taxes. For more information on how to make or change these designations, you should contact your retirement plan administrator or fund custodian directly, as the formalities differ from plan to plan.

As the various custodians' procedures frequently do not allow you to designate the ultimate use of your gift, you also might wish to contact the Planned Giving Office and make your wishes known to the college in advance. 



For several years Federal legislation has been pending which would, if passed and signed, create some limited opportunities for tax-advantageous contributions from IRAs; if and when such legislation is enacted, we will summarize it in the Maxwell Chambers Bulletin, our semiannual gift-planning newsletter, and on these webpages.