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Planned Giving

Economics Informs Artist's Creative Gift to GW

Bill Snow

Bill Snow made his planned gift to GW with a charitable gift annuity funded with appreciated securities. Snow's gift will provide scholarships to students pursuing advanced degrees in economics.

Bill Snow, ESIA BA '65, CCAS MPhil '70, CCAS PhD '76, developed a love of art while growing up in Mexico, where he took lessons from Spanish watercolorist Jaime Oates. After arriving at GW, he became hooked on economics after taking a required undergraduate course — a course that led to a fulfilling career in finance. His interest in art remained strong, as well, and Snow found continued fulfillment by painting realistic landscapes and streetscapes as a way of "converting the seemingly ordinary into something extraordinary," a practice he continues to this day.

In his paintings, Snow evokes a new appreciation of familiar scenes. It is also appreciation that inspired Snow to give back to GW. In Snow's former day job as the treasurer of Johns Hopkins University, one of the most important functions of his position was being in charge of the endowment. Says Snow, "Working with the endowment, I saw gifts come in which had an amazing impact on the university. I saw firsthand that people are enormously generous, and I decided then that I would give back to my alma mater, to GW."

For someone who has spent his life focused on the logic of finance and the beauty of art, charitable gift annuities have become a solution that brings both aspects to his philanthropy.

Snow made his planned gift with a charitable gift annuity funded with appreciated securities because it made the most sense economically: "I was able to get money back while giving to others, and also saving on taxes."

A CGA provides fixed payments for life in exchange for a gift of cash or appreciated securities. CGAs are easy to set up, and they help donors save on income and/or capital gains taxes, receive secure and predictable payments for life, and gain the satisfaction of making a generous gift to GW.

Although charitable gift annuities are practical from a personal financial standpoint, they also allow donors the creative freedom to choose how his or her gift will support the university and its students. In the same way that he uses brushstrokes to transform a common street scene into a work of art, Snow used a CGA to convert an otherwise ordinary donation into an extraordinary opportunity.

"Because I benefited a lot from scholarship assistance, it was important for me to give back so someone else can enjoy what I was able to enjoy," says Snow. A recipient of a teaching assistantship fellowship during his graduate work, Snow directed his gift to the Economics Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund, a permanent endowment funded with gifts from economics alumni that provides annual scholarships for graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in economics.

"To someone thinking about why they should give to GW, I would ask, ‘Did you enjoy your stay at GW, and did it contribute to your path in life?' If so, you need to pass that on to others."

Take the Next Step

When you provide a planned gift to GW, you'll join Bill Snow and other alumni and friends who believe in the future of GW and its students. To learn more about giving to GW, contact Courtney Tsai, JD, CAP ® at 877-498-7590 or

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the George Washington University 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 the George Washington University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 1922 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, 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 GW 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 GW 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 GW 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 GW where you agree to make a gift to GW 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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