Make Your Gift to Northwestern through Your IRA
Contact us to learn more about this tax-smart giving opportunity, including rules resulting from the CARES and SECURE Acts. Contact Us

Make a difference today and save on taxes by supporting Northwestern through your IRA.

A Special Opportunity for Those 70½ Years and Older

You can give any amount (up to a maximum of $100,000) per year from your IRA directly to a qualified charity such as Northwestern without having to pay income taxes on the money. Gifts of any value of $100,000 or less are eligible for this benefit and make a difference at Northwestern. This popular gift option is commonly called a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD), but you may also see it referred to as an IRA Charitable Rollover.

Why Consider This Gift?

  • Your gift will be put to use today, allowing you to see the difference your donation is making.
  • Beginning in the year you turn 72, you can use your gift to satisfy all or part of your required minimum distribution (RMD).
  • You pay no income taxes on the gift. The transfer generates neither taxable income nor a tax deduction, so you benefit even if you do not itemize your deductions.
  • Since the gift does not count as income, it can reduce your annual income level. This may help lower your Medicare premiums and decrease the amount of Social Security that is subject to tax.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am turning age 70½ in a few months. Can I make this gift now?+
I have several retirement accounts—some are pensions and some are IRAs. Does it matter which retirement account I use?+
Can my gift be used as my required minimum distribution?+
Do I need to give my entire IRA to be eligible for the tax benefits?+
When do I need to make my gift?+
I have two charities I want to support. Can I give $100,000 from my IRA to each?+
My spouse and I would like to give more than $100,000. How can we do that?+
Can I use the transfer to fund life-income gifts like charitable remainder trusts or charitable gift annuities?+
I have already named Northwestern as the beneficiary of my IRA. What are the benefits if I make a gift now instead of after my lifetime?+

For Those 59½ Years Old or Older

If you are at least 59½ years old, you can take a distribution and then make a gift from your IRA without penalty. If you itemize your deductions, you can take a charitable deduction for the amount of your gift.

At Any Age

No matter your age, you can designate Northwestern as the beneficiary of all or a percentage of your IRA and it will pass to us tax-free after your lifetime. It is simple, just requiring that you contact your IRA administrator for a change-of-beneficiary form or download a form from your provider’s website.

Tip: It is critical to let us know of your gift because many retirement plan administrators assume no obligation to notify a charity of your designation. The administrator also will not monitor whether your gift designations are followed. We would love to talk to you about your intentions to ensure that they are followed. Thank you for your generosity.

Next Steps

  1. Contact Northwestern Gift Planning at 800-826-6709 or giftplanning@northwestern.edu for additional information on making a gift from your IRA.
  2. Seek the advice of your financial or legal advisor.
  3. Ask your IRA administrator about making a direct transfer to Northwestern or have the administrator send a check from your account to us. You can use this form to make the request. To be tax-free, the donation must go directly from your account to Northwestern without passing through your hands. Please notify Northwestern of the incoming gift with this form.

Legal name: Northwestern University
Address: 633 Clark Street, Evanston, Illinois 60208
Federal tax ID number: 36-2167817

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Northwestern a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Northwestern, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 633 Clark Street, Evanston, Illinois 60208, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Northwestern or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property, or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Northwestern as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Northwestern as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Northwestern where you agree to make a gift to Northwestern and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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