Having spent his career working in investment banking with a number of Wall Street companies, Ken Kulju '80 Bus understands the power of a smart investment. So, when he heard that Penn State had established the Penn State Giving Fund, which enables alumni and friends to create donor-advised funds with the University, he recognized an investment opportunity.
"I actually worked with TIAA Charitable years ago," Ken says, referring to the investment firm that oversees the Penn State Giving Fund. "I know they have a reputation for excellent money management, and I am confident my gift will be managed responsibly."
Through the Penn State Giving Fund, Penn State supporters can create a personalized giving fund through which contributions can be made to the University and other charitable interests, while avoiding the cost and complexity of establishing a private foundation. Funds can be set up with a minimum of $5,000, and donors may qualify for a tax deduction in the year they make the gift.
In setting up his fund, Ken was also able to secure tax benefits by gifting appreciated securities. Typically, individuals must pay a tax on the profits they earn from the sale of appreciated securities. By donating those securities to Penn State instead, Ken avoided the tax burden and was able to make a larger gift to the University, one that might even grow over time as the funds mature.
But establishing the donor-advised fund was only the first piece of Ken's investment strategy. The real impact of his support—and the long-term benefits—are realized as his fund makes gifts to the Smeal College of Business Rogers Trading Room. True to Ken's own interests and professional background, the Rogers Trading Room replicates the trading experience and offers undergraduate students the opportunity to manage and invest real funds.
"I've supported the Rogers Trading Room since its establishment," Ken explains. "It's such a fantastic learning experience for students, helping them understand the demands of managing a real-world portfolio and make investment decisions. I know how valuable this will be as they enter the workforce."
Ken similarly credits Penn State for guiding his career. "I actually graduated with a degree in marketing," Ken says. "My classes gave me a unique appreciation for how markets operate, and I was able to carve out a really interesting niche in the finance industry. It was a great education."
Reminiscing about his own time at Smeal, and the ways in which the college has grown in the subsequent decades, Ken notes how proud he is of business education at Penn State.
"Smeal is consistently placing graduates into positions at top financial institutions," he says. "I'm seeing steady, continuous progress in how our degrees translate into exceptional jobs. It is so satisfying to me, as an alum and a supporter."
And it's this pride that motivates Ken to keep giving back to the University—not only to the Smeal College of Business, but also to the Arboretum, THON, athletics, and more.
"I like being a part of the Penn State family," Ken says. "The distinctive spirit around Penn State is so special, and I hope I'm helping to support that institutional legacy."
If you're interested in learning more about the Penn State Giving Fund and how this type of gift could benefit you and the University, please contact Michael J. Degenhart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-800-9170 (toll free).