Students bring 320,000 donors to Making History campaign
About 62 percent of monetary contributions from Seniors for the Penn Fund go toward undergraduate financial aid
March 13, 2013, 8:28 pm·
Part of the $4.3 billion bought in by Penn’s Making History campaign is due to the efforts of students here on campus.
One of the biggest groups that has helped with fundraising efforts is the Seniors for the Penn Fund, a group of students dedicated to ensuring that Penn seniors give monetary gifts to the campaign, of which 62 percent of the proceeds go towards undergraduate financial aid.
“The great thing about Seniors for the Penn Fund and what our volunteer student leaders have done so well is that they’re able to articulate the message of the Penn Fund, that we raise unrestricted dollars to support the University’s core priorities,” Executive Director of the Penn Fund Colin Hennessy said.
According to Hennessy, students have helped amass over 320,000 total donors during the course of the Making History campaign since 2006.
He added that last year, the class of 2012 hit their goal of attracting 1,740 or more donors from the senior class.
“Every year Seniors for the Penn Fund has a goal of 1,740 to honor the year of Penn’s founding,” he said.
The class of 2012 brought in a total of 1,757 donors, which helped bring the class to around 90 percent participation, according to Hennessy.
He added that “annual giving at Penn has been a tradition since 1927,” when the Penn Fund was initially created.
S4TPF falls under the umbrella of Penn Traditions, a program dedicated to advancement at Penn through philanthropic service.
“While we’re not actively fundraising from the students, we’re getting them engaged in the community, talking about engagement and what it means to be an alumni,” Executive Director of Alumni Relations Elise Betz said. “We started this program to start to educate students about giving back.”
Betz added that participation has increased dramatically from the original 18 percent participation in 2001.
Both Betz and Hennessy stressed the importance of peer-to-peer outreach in encouraging students to contribute.
“A majority of our gifts come because seniors are out there asking their friends and they are passionately talking about why it is important to them,” Hennessy said. “Penn students really understand the importance of unrestricted giving.”
Some students agreed that being a part of the S4TPF, and the Making History campaign at large, has enriched their time at Penn.
“It’s a way to preserve the undergraduate experience … I donate to Penn because I really want students in the future to have the experience I did,” College senior and co-chair of S4TPF Lakshmi Sivaguru said. “We had this incredible desire to make sure that our class really unites and sees that when we become alumni is when Penn will need our help.”
School of Nursing 2012 graduate and previous S4TPF co-chair Angela Nguyen expressed similar sentiments.
“I told them why I donate … because I want to give back. I want those same opportunities for future Penn students,” Nguyen said in an email. “I’d also tell them that it’s not the amount that matters but the participation.”
Betz and Hennessy agreed that participation is one of the main goals of the campaign.
“Being engaged and understanding the importance of all the groups of people in the Penn community — students, alumni, faculty, staff — that’s really the idea,” Betz said. “Penn Traditions has become a national model because everybody is realizing in higher education we have to cultivate our students as engaged members of the community.”
According to Hennessy, S4TPF helped contribute around $445,000 over the course of the campaign from early in 2006 to Dec. 31, 2012.
“I believe strongly that every graduate of this university can participate in the annual fund by giving a gift that is meaningful for them,” Hennessy said.
In addition to S4TPF, Penn Traditions committees such as Alumni Engagement, University Life and Class Ambassadors have also helped to connect students and alumni to the University, as well as the Red And Blue calling crew — a calling center staffed by students which calls alumni, asking them to support Penn.
“It’s about trying to unite the class around a big mission — giving back to Penn,” College senior and S4TPF co-chair Avery Rosin said.