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The Benjamin Franklin Society was founded in 1955 as the University’s largest “unrestricted annual giving group.”

Credit: Courtesy of The Penn Fund

The opportunity to join a society doesn’t end when Penn students graduate. The Penn Fund offers membership to several giving societies, through which alumni can maintain their Penn roots by donating to the University.

The Benjamin Franklin Society and the Ivy Stone Society are alumni donor giving societies through the Penn Fund, the University’s undergraduate, unrestricted collection of donations.

Because the Penn Fund is unrestricted, the University can use its discretion in deciding how to allocate the funds — for example, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology was constructed with the support of such funding.

The Benjamin Franklin Society was founded in 1955 as the University’s largest “unrestricted annual giving group,” Senior Director of Development of School and Center Annual Giving Jean Findlay said. The society honors alumni who donate at least $2,500 to Penn. Recent graduates can enter the society at the Associate level by donating $250 between zero and four years after graduation, $500 between five and nine years after graduation and $1,000 between 10 and 14 years after graduation.

Subsequent donations can boost members to the ranks of Fellow, Founder and Ambassador, with Ambassadors being those who have donated $25,000 or more to Penn.

The Ivy Stone Society was founded in 2007 at the suggestion of alumni volunteers, said Colin Hennessy, the executive director of the Penn Fund. The Ivy Stone Society honors alumni who donate every year consecutively, no matter the amount, beginning with three years.

Much of the money raised by these societies is allocated toward undergraduate financial aid, which is an essential part of Penn’s no-loan policy.

“We have waiting and limitless ability, we will find you the money,” said 1973 College graduate and former Penn Fund Executive Chair Mark Maas.

The societies provide a community and recognition for alumni who are at the helm of Penn’s fundraising efforts.

Maas finds that donating and being part of the Benjamin Franklin Society, specifically, gives him a place to show how he has been “loyal to the University.”

“It is my way of saying to the University, I appreciate my education,” Maas said.

Jan Sigmon, 1982 College graduate and former co-chair of the Benjamin Franklin Society, shares Maas’ sentiments.

“I feel tremendous responsibility and the need to give it forward ... Penn graduates benefit from their time at Penn,” Sigmon said. “If you’re able, the ability to help Penn students obtain such a milestone ... is a wonderful thing to be able to do for others.”

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