Building on a strong culture of philanthropy

Philanthropy from our community is creating possibility for the people, programs, and campus places that have come to define the Wheaton College experience.

by Merritt A. Crowley, Vice President for College Advancement

What inspires us to give?

In my twenty-plus years as a fundraiser in higher education—in a state college system, at an Ivy League institution, and at small liberal arts colleges—I have learned that philanthropy is both art and science. Likewise, the inspiration to give often reflects decisions of the heart and head. We support worthy non-profits because they are close to our hearts and because we know with certainty that our support will be used wisely to help the organization deliver on the promise of an important mission that impacts our family, our community, and our world.

Wheaton’s community of supporters represent a wide spectrum of alumni, parents and family, faculty and staff, students, and corporations and foundations. These constituents form a strong base of support that has helped Wheaton see growth in its student body (a ten percent increase since 2014), innovation in our curriculum and academic programs, and significant new and ongoing investment in our campus living and learning spaces (see Innovation & Impact: 2019 President’s Report).

Much of this success is owed to our community’s commitment to its core institutional values. These values inform our academic priorities and our fundraising concentrates solely on developing support for those priorities. Last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2019, our community achieved a record-setting $5 million in gifts to the Wheaton Fund from more than 4,000 alumni, parents, faculty, students, and staff. This support helps to underwrite scholarships, internships, faculty research, the arts, athletics, and residential life.

Socktober, Giving Tuesday, and Pay It Forward

At Wheaton, we provide a number of opportunities throughout year for all members of our community to support our mission at every level. The more we all work together. The greater the impact on your student’s Wheaton experience. The goal of these giving programs is to raise awareness and to focus attention on the importance of annual participation. Gifts of participation have an amplifying effect when everyone joins in, and donor participation rates are one of the metrics used in the annual higher-ed rankings to measure overall community engagement.

Last month, our second-annual Socktober fundraiser saw participation from over 565 community members. It was a fun way for our alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff to show their Wheaton pride. And they can show that pride every time they wear their Wheaton plaid socks.

December 3rd is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving that—along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday—helps to kick off the holiday giving season. Giving Tuesday has generated great support for Wheaton College in recent years. This year a donor challenge has been issued by an anonymous alumna who will release $50,000 in challenge funds as soon as 225 members of our community become Slype Sustainers. This is a time when your philanthropy has a multiplicative effect for the Wheaton Fund, and it is a great time to show your support.

We produced a short Giving Tuesday video that features two amazing members of the Class of 2020 talking about what Wheaton has given to them, thanks, in part, to generous donors making gifts large and small. I hope you have a moment to watch the video and consider participating in Giving Tuesday on (or before) December 3rd to help Wheaton earn that $50,000 challenge.

Wheaton parents and families are central to the college’s annual fundraising efforts. Your participation in Socktober, or Giving Tuesday, or—looking ahead—on Pay It Forward Day (April 28, 2020) is greatly appreciated. As Wheaton enters the final months of its three-year Creating Possibility initiative, we have realized $37.4 million in gifts and commitments toward our goal of $50 million by June 30, 2020. This remarkable level of philanthropy is a testament to the commitment that our community has made to this institution. Your participation helps us sustain this momentum. Thank you for being a part of it all at Wheaton.