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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Why Support the Annual Fund?

Last year over 10,500 donors rose to the challenge and supported the Annual Fund with gifts totaling over $8.7 million. This comprised nearly 7% of the University's operating budget during a critical time when the endowment produced less revenue. The Annual Fund helps keep tuition growth at a minimum and maintain the quality and breadth of a Washington and Lee education despite the fluctuations of the economy.

It is important to Washington and Lee that past donors to the Annual Fund support the fund every year, and endeavor to continually increase their support (even if only by a small amount.) It is also critical that new donors support the fund every year.


The Annual Fund has dual objectives: to raise dollars and to encourage participation from alumni, parents and friends. The importance of leadership gifts to the Fund cannot be underestimated: more than 60% of the fund is contributed by just 7% of the University's Annual Fund donors.

However, even though the majority of donors make gifts that are smaller in size, each donor--regardless of how much they give--has the same impact on the Annual Fund participation rate. Since we have so many loyal donors W&L has established a special philanthropic society, the 1749 Circle, to recognize donors who support the university consistently. Membership is granted after three or more years of consecutive giving. W&L currently has over 7,600 members in the 1749 Circle.

Alumni participation in the Annual Fund is the single most important measure of alumni loyalty in the eyes of corporations, foundations, prospective faculty and students, and rankings such as US News & World Report. If each alum who had given at least once in the past four years gave again this year, participation would be over 70%.