Except for the bequest, the charitable gift annuity is the oldest planned gift. The first gift annuity is believed to have been written by the American Bible Society in 1843. By the 1920's a number of religious organizations were issuing gift annuities, and in the intervening sixty years all types of organizations, secular as well as religious, have found the gift annuity to be an effective means of securing contributions. The increasing interest in gift annuities was accompanied by growth in the number of sponsoring members of the Committee on Gift Annuities and in attendance at the triennial conferences sponsored by that organization. Effective January 1, 1994, that organization was incorporated, and the name was changed to the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA).
Although gift annuities have been around for more than a century and ever more charities appear to be offering them, we have had little hard data on what is actually happening. The only previous survey of which we are aware was conducted in 1955 by Charles Baas, who was then Chair of the Committee on Gift Annuities. That survey was primarily concerned with financial statistics regarding gift annuity funds.