A Good Way to Give

David and Lenelle Smith
David and Lenelle Smith, graduates of the Stern MBA Class of 1972 and 1974 respectively, have been loyal Stern alumni, regularly giving annually to the School for decades. All this time, they didn’t realize they could do an endowed scholarship from their IRA for up to five times that much, with additional tax benefits.

David, a former Ford Motor Company executive and entrepreneur, and Lenelle, a former marketer, met at Stern in September 1971, on the first day of their Organizational Behavior class. David had recently been discharged from the Army as a first lieutenant, and Lenelle was in her fifth year attending Stern part-time while working at Ogilvy & Mather as a vice president and research group head. They wed in 1972 in Ann Arbor, MI.

Stern has always been in the couple’s life in one form or another. “The primary reason we support Stern is to give back,” David said, adding that he had received an academic scholarship.

Lenelle helped organize the NYU Stern Club in Michigan, and they have been dedicated long-time donors. “Our first major gift to Stern was to support the capital campaign to move from Trinity Place to the Washington Square Campus,” Lenelle recounted. “Early on, we became Haskins Giving Society members, attending award dinners in New York, and numerous Stern events in California and receptions for Stern deans and NYU presidents.”

Several months ago, the Smiths set out to learn more about how they could increase their long-term impact on students. They met with Alexander Muetzel, a member of Stern’s development team who told them about the advantages of giving through a qualified IRA distribution. By directing an amount from their required minimum distribution (RMD) — which goes into effect at age 72 — they could increase the size of their gift without affecting their liquid assets. And because IRA gifts flow directly to Stern, they do not increase the donor’s yearly taxable income, while still qualifying for the RMD amount.

After learning about the advantages of gifts made through an IRA, the Smiths chose to support an endowed scholarship in this way. They decided to focus their gift on MBA students with a background in the liberal arts, to encourage a diverse and talented cohort of students to study at Stern.

“Planned gifts are a fantastic way to maximize your impact on Stern and its students,” Muetzel said. “Support does not require you to give anything now and can allow you to take care of loved ones while making a significant difference for the future of Stern students.”

Often, Muetzel added, donors include Stern in their wills without letting the School know of the bequest. “We would love to celebrate our donors who add Stern to their will for their commitment to the School,” he said. “By informing us, we can include them in the Society of the Torch and invite them to campus to see the impacts of their gift now. A planned gift is open to anyone and can be any size. When determining the right gift option, it’s vital to first decide important personal and family goals. We work closely with Stern alumni to help them decide the best strategy for them.” 

Many alumni are looking to make a lasting impact at Stern and don’t realize the hidden value in their current assets. To learn more about how to set up a legacy gift, contact Alexander Muetzel at 212-998-0596 or amuetzel@stern.nyu.edu.