The Gift Of Giving

George E. Safiol

Leadership 100 members make their initial gifts, continue their payments and fulfill their pledges in a variety of ways, directly by check or credit card, through stock and even life insurance or, through investment vehicles that otherwise manage their money. A leading proponent of the last method is none other than the Leadership 100 Treasurer, George E. Safiol, who has established the George E. Safiol Foundation, a donor-advised fund, with Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund.
His foundation or donor-advised fund is a segregated account which holds his irrevocable and tax-deductible contributions. Gift Fund donors exercise the privilege, among other things, of recommending grants to qualified public charities, such as Leadership 100. According to Safiol, an astute money manager, who is a management consultant and a noted philanthropist and has held CEO and top management positions with a string of companies, including ITT, General Instrument Corporation and American Bilrite, Inc., giving through this type of vehicle has distinct advantages over direct giving. Among them, he cites the following:
  • Enables you to support multiple charities with one donation.
  • Allows you to take an immediate tax deduction, including appreciated securities.
  • Separates the timing of the tax deduction from the granting of the gift, so there is no need to rush a decision as to which charity to support.
  • Can accept assets beyond cash equivalents or publicly-traded securities, such as privately held C-Corp or S-Corp shares.
  • Provides organized management of charitable giving, simplifying tax preparation.
  • Offers online access, including research on charities and review of one’s giving activity and history.
  • Can be a valuable estate planning tool.
As he explains it, when one sends in stock to the Gift Fund, it is sold immediately and one receives a full deduction that day or year. The monies go into an investment pool advised by the donor, whether money market, mutual fund or a variety of 8 to 10 high performing investment vehicles.  A direct gift of stock can be complicated, he says, requiring a process clearing it with a broker and the necessity of the beneficiary calculating its value. Another benefit is that contributions to the Gift Fund have the opportunity to grow over time in support of one’s charitable goals.
In addition to his generous support of Leadership 100, Safiol has endowed the George E. Safiol Prize for Meritocracy at New York University in honor of Harold Geneen, the legendary CEO of ITT who was his mentor, as well as two research scholarships in the College. He serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council. A graduate of New York University’s College of Engineering in 1954, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award and with his wife, Demetra, established the Demetra and George Safiol Seminars in Leadership and Integrity at the University.
Other members of Leadership 100 have chosen to funnel their donations through other charitable or investment entities, amongst which are The Baltimore Community Foundation, the Omaha Community Foundation, and the Sacramento Region Community Foundation.
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