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John Chisholm supports MIT because he “benefited hugely from an MIT education,” he says. “MIT opened so many opportunities–it was my first big step forward in the world.”

Recently, he established two charitable remainder unitrusts, one to support graduate students in mathematics and another to support the music and theater arts. Both gifts will be invested in the MIT endowment.

“Math and the humanities tend to be undersupported at MIT, so this is a small way of helping to shore that up,” says John, a member of the Class of 1975, who received a bachelor’s degree in electrical science and engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 1976. Two years later, he earned an MBA from Harvard.

John has had a 30-year career in high-tech management in Silicon Valley. Since the 1990s, he has founded two companies. Decisive Technology, which published the first software for conducting e-mail surveys, is now part of Google; CustomerSat, which provides corporations with tools for gathering and managing customer feedback, was acquired by MarketTools. He’s an avid mountain climber and enjoys volunteering with MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service, which matches young MIT entrepreneurs with mentors who share their knowledge to help launch successful startups.

“A unitrust offers income for life and a tax deduction, and it helps MIT,” he says. “As with all investments, the endowment has been affected by the economic downturn. I am confident in the team that manages the endowment and look forward to its resuming its strong growth when
this period passes.”

John is not the only family member to combine giving to MIT with prudent financial planning. His mother, Elda Chisholm, recently established a gift annuity to support the MIT libraries. Elda attended classes at MIT in the 1940s and was a librarian for nearly a decade at what is now MIT’s Barker Engineering Library; she received a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in 1971. “Books open boundless ideas and stir the imagination,” she says. “Libraries are integral to student life.” Her gift provides her with a high fixed income for life, a tax break, and a way to diversify her investments.

Elda attends reunions with the MIT Class of ‘49, which includes many of her lifelong friends. She suggests to them: “Give while you live. Don’t wait. When you give, you feel wonderful. It’s a joyous thing.”


Donors can now establish trusts invested in the MIT endowment and benefit from its diversified investment portfolio. The income paid by such trusts has the potential to increase over time as the endowment does.

Donors may also set up gift annuities that pay beneficiaries a high fixed income.

For more information, contact Judy Sager:

617-253-6463 or jsager@mit.edu. Or visit
giving.mit.edu/ways/invest-endowment.

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