Well, to be honest, no one knows for sure. But Ron Brown has spent a lot of time researching the history of gift planning and he shared some interesting tidbits in his recent session at Planned Giving Days in Washington, DC.
While full-fledged gift planning programs began at colleges and universities in the 1930s, Brown chronicles a U.S. bequest more than 300 years before that. Mary Chilton Winslow, one of the first Mayflower pilgrims, is reported to have left a bequest to her church in 1620. Then in 1638, John Harvard left a bequest of 320 books and 375 pounds to a higher education institution you may have heard of in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Some other significant dates in planned giving history include:
1830 Early charitable gift annuity: John Trumbull agreed to give his best paintings to Yale in exchange for a lifetime annuity of $1,000 a year.
1917 Charitable tax deduction first introduced.
1919 American Bible Society launches a gift annuity campaign with ads proclaiming, “Your money will spread the gospel,” in leading religious publications.
1932 Seven Sisters colleges collaborate to launch a bequest program.
1969 Tax Reform Act of 1969 clarifies rules for charitable remainder trusts and other planned gifts, stimulating rapid growth in the number and value of life-income gifts to charity.
1988 The National Committee on Planned Giving (now the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, or CGP) opened in Indianapolis, Indiana for the education and training of the planned giving community.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip into the past as much as I enjoyed Ron Brown’s session at Planned Giving Days. Ronald A. Brown has worked in planned giving at Princeton, Fordham and Columbia Universities and the Pratt Institute. Are you hungry to learn more about gift planning history? Check out Ron’s book here.