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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What assets can I use to make a gift to the American Red Cross?
Generally speaking, during your lifetime you can make an outright gift of securities or other property (e.g., real estate, personal property).

Through your will or living trust or with a distribution from a retirement plan or life insurance policy, you can designate a gift to the American Red Cross.

2. What sort of gift plans also return income to me?
You have the option of making a gift that returns income to you, your spouse, or other individuals, such as a charitable gift annuity, or a charitable remainder unitrust or annuity trust.

3. What tax deduction will I receive for my gift?
Your tax benefits will depend on several factors: the type of gift, the time at which it is made, whether it is outright or deferred, and whether it includes income payments. In general, though, here are some guidelines:

  • Outright gifts to The Red Cross generate a full income-tax charitable deduction. Outright gifts of appreciated securities are deductible at fair market value, with no recognition of capital gains.
  • Gifts of personal property, like art, books and collectibles, are fully deductible so long as they are relevant to The Red Cross's mission. We can advise you on this point. Click here for contact information.
  • Bequests do not generate a lifetime income tax deduction. However they are exempt from estate tax.
  • Similarly, life insurance distributions to The Red Cross are not income-tax deductible, but are exempt from estate tax. If you have made us the irrevocable owner and beneficiary of a policy during your lifetime, you may deduct annual gifts that offset premium payments and possibly the value of your policy at the time of contribution (for more details on this point, see Question 4 below).
  • The charitable deduction for a gift that returns income to you, such as a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust, is the fair market value of the gift asset minus the present value of the income interest you retain.

4. I want to set up a life insurance policy, name the American Red Cross as beneficiary, but retain ownership of the policy. Can I deduct the premium payments I make?
No. The IRS would not consider that a "completed gift" – they'd say that, as the owner of the policy, you could change the beneficiary designation to a friend or family member. We must be made the irrevocable owner of the policy for gifts offsetting premium payments to be deductible.

5. I’ve heard that transferring gifts of IRA assets to charity is advantageous. Why?
Qualified retirement plans such as IRAs, 401(k), 403(b), and Keoghs allow individuals to defer paying taxes on a portion of their income until the assets are withdrawn during retirement years. However, after a person's death, these accounts are exposed to income and in some cases estate taxes, at a combined rate that could rise to 75% or even higher on large taxable estates. The only way to avoid both income and estate tax on your retirement plan is to give those assets to a charity. By designating the American Red Cross as your beneficiary, you will ensure 100% of the value of your account benefits the American Red Cross.

6. I'd like to donate a painting. Will you determine its value for my income tax deduction?
The IRS requires that donors of artwork and collectibles secure an independent appraisal of the items to establish fair market value. The appraisal has to be related to the gift, too – an insurance appraisal won't suffice. We can assist you on this point.

7. I'm interested in establishing a charitable gift annuity. What financial provisions will you make for the income payments to me and my spouse?
Your charitable gift annuity will be treated as a general obligation of the American Red Cross, backed by all of its assets. the American Red Cross has an unbroken record in making timely payments to our annuitants, and that ongoing responsibility is a key element in its financial policies.

8. If I create a bequest or life-income gift, will you continue to ask me for annual contributions?
Your planned gift is a significant addition to our long-term financial strength and our ability to meet the challenges and opportunities the future will bring. However, today's efforts are supported through annual gifts and we greatly appreciate and encourage any annual support you may want to consider.