Big Poet Give gets more donors, fewer dollars

Big Poet Give gets more donors, fewer dollars
Big Poet Giveaway #2.jpg

Nathan Tolfa

This year’s Big Poet Give — Whittier College’s annual Spring semester fundraiser — concluded on Wednesday, March 27.  Although the 24-hour main event has ended, the website will remain active and continue to function for a few weeks, should anyone want to make a belated donation to the event. By the end of March 27, 1,506 donors had contributed to the event, raising $260,102. The College saw an increase in the number of donors from last year’s 1,130 to this year’s 1,506, though this year’s event made roughly $20,000 less than last year.

“The number of donors, which is our real goal that we go for, was the highest it’s ever been,” said Director of Annual Giving Alex Popescu. “We actually are understaffed right now, and we are looking to hire more Development Gift officers. They typically go after the larger donations. So when you consider that we’re a little short staffed, we actually consider [this year’s Big Poet Give] a success.”

Popescu cites the high number of “mini-challenges” as the reason for this year’s increase in donors. These were offers made by various alumni to make large payments if certain on-campus organizations raised over a pre-determined amount of funds. For instance, Thalian alumna of ‘73 Kristine Dillon offered to donate $10,000 if the Thalian society raised $5,000. They did, and she offered to pay an additional $5,000 if they reached 100 donors*. When they raised the money, Dillon donated $15,000 to the College. An anonymous donor offered to make a variety of donations if Poet sports teams were able to get enough donations. For ... 

... instance, if 75 people donated to the Whittier Men’s Lacrosse Team, the
donor would give $2,500 to the school. The donor also made offers to donate if the Basketball, Softball, and Water Polo teams received enough donations. Orthogonian Alumnus of ‘68 Rick Gilchrist offered to donate $2,500 if 50 Orthogonians donated to Orthogonian Society Memorial Endowed Scholarship, and a group of unnamed trustees offered to give $100,000 for student scholarships if 1,000 people donated during the event.

Donors determine how the funds are used. The largest amount of money was given by 63 donors for a total of $106,300 to increase scholarship funding, and the greatest number of donors, 341, donated $43,888 to the Whittier Fund, a pool of funds that are used by Whittier College to pay for the “area of greatest need,”  according to the Big Poet Give website. 

Donors could also give to the “Other” category, where they could determine the exact part of campus that their donations would go to support. “We had a few people give to the English Department,” said Popescu.

Almost half — 49.75 percent — of the people who donated were alumni; 16.26 percent were parents; 5.67 percent were faculty or staff; 2.59 percent were students; 25.74 percent were “friends.” “[Friends are] people who didn’t go here, nor do they have a son or daughter who [goes to Whittier],” said Popescu, “but they’re a member of the community who wanted to come give back.”

Popescu is optimistic about the event’s future. “We’re looking forward to the Big Poet Give next year,” he said. While the event is over, it is still possible to make donations through the website

*This article was updated at 11:45 A.M. on April 4. Previously the QC reported that that the Thalian society would unlock an additional $5,000 if they reached $10,000.