The American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, proudly bears the title of the nation's oldest learned society.  Our founders participated in the birth of American democracy. It pains us greatly that all these years later, our nation's promise has yet to be fulfilled.  We join all Americans of good will in deploring the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Over these past months the Society has hosted a number of virtual programs.  Even as we now resume our work with the offering of new programs, our attention remains focused on the senseless loss of innocent lives and our commitment to the difficult, necessary conversations and actions we must all take to begin to ensure that such tragedies end. Read more about virtual programming and resources that can be accessed remotely. Read more about the APS response to COVID-19.

Planned Giving

Header image: Portrait of Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose, Jr. by George Gibbs, 1934.  American Philosophical Society.

Photograph of Whitfield Bell
Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Executive Officer of the Society (19771983) and Librarian (19661980), supported the APS through annuities and a bequest on his death in 2009. Using planned gifts to establish the Whitfield J. Bell, Jr. Fund for Library Acquisitions, he said, "was an easy and a practical way to help assure the continued growth of the Society's extraordinary collections."

The American Philosophical Society welcomes gifts through its Planned Giving Program. Over the yearsdating back to the 18th centurythe APS has been the recipient of bequests and other planned gifts in support of its mission of “promoting useful knowledge.”

The APS recognizes donors of planned gifts through the Richard A. F. Penrose, Jr. Association. Dr. Penrose, a Member of the Society for 26 years, bequeathed nearly $4 million to the APS in 1931. Dr. Penrose’s legacy highlights a tradition of generosity that dates to the Society’s earliest days.

The APS invites you to explore the options for making such contributions, which can be tailored to your financial priorities. Although many planned gifts are “win-win” situations for donors and charities, each type of gift has its own rules and implications for charitable deductions, estate taxes, etc., which should be thoroughly explored to ensure that they are compatible with your financial and/or estate planning. For a full description of each planned gift, please see below.


If you have already included the APS in your estate plans, or if you would like more information on bequests and other planned gifts, such as those that can provide an income stream for the donor and/or a spouse, please contact Linda Jacobs at 215-440-3434 or