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Don’t Keep Them Bottled Up! Gifts of Appreciated Stuff Are Much Appreciated

Some of you who never read Forbes Magazine might think it’s just a stuffy business periodical, but how stuffy can a magazine really be when it runs an article celebrating “investment-grade” Scotch whiskey, as Forbes recently did?

Sounds whimsical, but it’s for real. And with dollar values per fifth reaching five and six figures, what nonprofit wouldn’t appreciate a gift of such a very special bottle of booze?

When canny marketers seek to pull the cork on high-end snob appeal, the sky’s the limit – but not for me. My personal Scotch budget is $45 a bottle. But the players in this new savory game usually tack on a few more zeroes to so miniscule an amount.

Padlock Your Wetbar

How’s this for value-added? The $2,750 entry-level price you pay to purchase a bottle from the Annie Liebovitz Scotch Collection, for example (yes, it’s that Annie Liebovitz), also includes a limited edition Liebovitz print to hang on the wall – right next to your flashing neon Miller sign.

Other stratospheric examples:

  • Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare: $75,000
  • Dalmore ‘64 Trinitas: $160,100
  • Glenfiddich 1937: $71,700

2012 traffic in such tasty trifles was up 550% over 2008, and Whiskey Highland founder Andy Simpson says an index fund of the top 250 bottles shows they delivered 206% appreciation from Q3 2008 to Q3 2012.

Interested? To get closer to this action you might choose to join New York’s “1494” whiskey club (collector’s membership: $25,000). Forbes seems bullish on investment-grade Scotch: “And if the rare-whiskey market should collapse? Just drink your losses. Try that with social media stock.”

A Toast to Fundraising Relevance

Gifts of personal property – appreciated “stuff” – are a great way donors can make a difference for your nonprofit. And who wouldn’t appreciate a bottle of that Glenfiddich ’37? But let’s also imagine other, perhaps less exotic possibilities:

  • How about a 1955 Corvette?
  • A piece of original artwork?
  • The world’s second-largest collection of porcelain frogs?
  • A vintage sailboat?

I asked Brian Sagrestano to give us his rundown on the benefits and requirements of such gifts:

“Any asset can be donated. The question is whether it can be deducted. But I work on gifts of highly appreciated collectibles all the time. Say the donor has an asset, like a bottle of wine, which is highly appreciated. The donor has it appraised and then donates it. The deduction is based on a qualified appraisal unless the charity cannot use the asset for a purpose related to its charitable mission (this is called the “related use rule”). But in positive-speak, if the charity can use it for a purpose related to its mission, deduction is based on the appraisal. If the charity cannot, deduction is limited to the donor’s cost basis (what donor paid for it).”

Whether it’s a whiskey, a classic car, artwork, whatever – this kind of giving represents a significant opportunity for donors, nonprofits and for you.

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