Penn Fund 101 - FAQs

 

What is The Penn Fund?

The Penn Fund is the University’s undergraduate unrestricted annual giving program. Since 1927, The Penn Fund has contributed to the University’s growth and the experiences of all Penn students by soliciting annual gifts from alumni and friends who are committed to the advancement of the University.

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Where are gifts to The Penn Fund directed?

Gifts to The Penn Fund are immediately directed to the areas of the University that need support the most. These areas most often include student financial aid, residential experience, student life & academic support, and special University initiatives. 

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Why should I give to The Penn Fund?

All undergraduate alumni from Penn are encouraged to give to The Penn Fund annually in support of Penn students in order to give back to the University that gave them so much. The Penn education of all undergraduate alumni was directly supported by gifts from the alumni who came before them – even if full tuition was paid. The cost of a Penn education is far greater than that of the tuition and fees charged. Therefore, Penn alumni have the opportunity to truly make a difference for those who follow in their footsteps. Participation at any level will make this happen.

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Will donor participation help Penn in its rankings? 

Gifts to The Penn Fund do help the University to maintain its ranking as one of the premier universities in the nation in terms of the quality of its students, its faculty, its academic and extracurricular programs, and its research. The participation and involvement of alumni plays a role in determining these listings.

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How do we know gifts will be used right away?

Penn Fund gifts are used to support the annual operating budget, not the endowment, and thus are put to immediate use. As with most colleges and universities, tuition and fees are lower than the actual cost of providing an education. Therefore, alumni support is crucial to the education of Penn students.

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How are reunion gifts allocated?

All gifts designated by the donor to individual endowed scholarship funds are restricted to those funds. Gifts not restricted to an individual endowed scholarship are designated to the appropriate class reunion fund within The Penn Fund. For reunion classes celebrating their 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th reunions, all class funds are designated unrestricted for The Penn Fund in support of the university’s highest undergraduate priorities.

For classes celebrating their 25th through 50th reunions, classes may fund a single capital project from an approved list of capital projects; a gift to the class scholarship; or a combination of both, with a component of unrestricted dollars for The Penn Fund

  • If a class selects only a capital project: If the Approved Class Project (project) includes a capital component only, incoming receipts are allocated to the capital project first, unless otherwise designated by the donor. If receipts raised in the reunion year do not meet the capital goal, future receipts will be allocated until such time as the capital project is fully funded. Any excess funds in the class fund once the capital project goal has been met are designated unrestricted for The Penn Fund and benefit the University’s most pressing undergraduate priorities.
  • If a class selects only to add to or create a class scholarship: If the Approved Class Project (project) includes a scholarship component only, incoming receipts are allocated to the scholarship first, unless otherwise designated by the donor, until the stated reunion scholarship goal is met. If receipts raised in the reunion year do not meet the scholarship goal, future receipts will be allocated until such time as the scholarship goal is fully funded. Any excess funds in the class fund once the scholarship goal has been met are designated unrestricted for The Penn Fund and benefit the University’s most pressing undergraduate priorities.
  • If the class selects a capital project and adds to/creates a class scholarship: If the Approved Class Project (project) includes a capital component and the creation or addition to a class scholarship, incoming receipts are allocated to the capital project first and then to the class scholarship, unless otherwise designated by the donor. If receipts raised in the reunion year do not meet the combined capital and scholarship goal, future receipts will be allocated until such time as the capital project is fully funded, and then to the scholarship goal until both are fully funded. Any excess funds in the class fund once the capital project and scholarship have been funded are designated unrestricted for The Penn Fund and benefit the University’s most pressing undergraduate priorities.

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What are approved Class Projects?

In addition to their goals for unrestricted giving to The Penn Fund and gifts to individual endowed scholarships, classes celebrating a 25th reunion and higher have an opportunity to fund an Approved Class Project through The Penn Fund, which may consist of a capital project, a gift to a class scholarship, or a combination of both. At the beginning of each reunion cycle, the University presents a list of capital projects for gift committee volunteers to consider when selecting their Approved Class Project. This list includes budget-relieving priorities from across campus that will have a positive impact on undergraduate life. Classes are encouraged to designate part (or all if they so choose) of their Approved Class Project towards their class scholarship.

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What is the Red and Blue Calling Crew and who do they call?

The Penn Fund's Red and Blue Calling Crew hires Penn students each academic year to make phone calls to alumni who hold undergraduate degrees, as well as to Penn parents, to solicit unrestricted gifts to the University. Students have the opportunity to connect personally with alumni and other members of the Penn community and to learn the importance of philanthropy. 

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How do I make a gift to The Penn Fund?

There are many ways to give to The Penn Fund in support of undergraduate education at Penn. Visit our Ways to Give page to find out more.
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I support other Penn programs, why are you asking me for more?

The University appreciates your support. The Penn Fund is an unrestricted giving fund, which means that your gift would immediately meet the needs of undergraduate students at Penn. Gifts to The Penn Fund support academic programs, student financial aid, and other critical educational priorities. We would like your help and participation at any level.
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Where should gifts to The Penn Fund be directed?

Gifts to The Penn Fund can be made via the phone, mail or online:

The Penn Fund
Suite 300

2929 Walnut Street 

Philadelphia, PA 19104-5099

phone: 800-237-2655; 215-898-8445 
fax: 215-573-0197
email: pennfund@list.upenn.edu
website: www.pennfund.upenn.edu

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How do I decode the Penn academic acronyms?

Curious about abbreviations such as EE, W, GRP, C and others? – click here to learn more.

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What is the difference between restricted and unrestricted gifts?

While gifts to Penn can be directed to a variety of purposes, all gifts fall into one of two categories: “unrestricted” or “restricted.”

UNRESTRICTED GIFTS

  • Annual Giving. Annual Fund gifts support the immediate operating expenses of the University and its schools and centers in the current fiscal year. There are many annual giving funds at Penn, including The Penn Fund and funds within schools and centers. Annual Fund gifts are used in their entirety to support the designated unrestricted fund.
  • General Purpose. Unrestricted gifts may be made to the University, or to a school or center, as a General Purpose gift to be used entirely at the beneficiary’s discretion.

RESTRICTED GIFTS*

  • Program Gifts. Program gifts establish and support specific initiatives and activities at the University and its schools and centers.  Examples include restricted gifts to support faculty, specific areas of research and scholarship, curricular development and other core priorities.
  • Endowment Gifts. Gifts that create endowment funds are generally designated for specific purposes agreed upon by the donor and the University at the time the donation is made. They generate annual income from investment returns, as determined by a spending rule set by the Board of Trustees.
  • Capital Gifts. Gifts made to capital projects, including construction and renovation of facilities, or facility improvement.

*Restricted endowment and program gifts are typically subject to an indirect cost recovery policy which provides that a portion of program gifts or income from endowment funds be retained by the school or center, to be applied to offset the full costs associated with the specific restricted gift purpose. These costs include school or academic center expenses that are necessary to support the endowment or gift program, such as lighting, heating, and other facilities costs, and administrative costs incurred by the schools and centers such as information technology, safety and security, human resources, finance, treasury, audit, and fundraising.

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How will my gift to Penn be recognized?

Penn has developed a number of donor recognition programs, publications, and societies. Naming opportunities for facilities, academic programs, faculty positions, and student scholarships are available at a variety of giving levels. University-wide donors are recognized in the annual publication People Supporting Penn. Many schools and centers have their own publications and giving societies, as do Gift Planning, The Penn Fund, and other specialized programs.

You should specifically designate your gift as “anonymous” if you do not wish your name to appear in donor reports.

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How do I set up a recurring gift?

You are now able to set up a recurring gift on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Please contact The Penn Fund at pennfund@lists.upenn.edu to establish your recurring gift today.

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