Small gifts. Big difference.

Image of gifts

It’s simple. People like you make great things happen here. Annual gifts to the University are essential in funding unique initiatives that affect students in real and important ways. Read on for examples of how Penn State is putting annual gifts to work—and for proof that you don’t need to make a big gift to make a big difference.


Image of Penn State Nittany Lion Shrine in the morining

Creating a legacy

The most iconic Penn State symbol was born when the class of 1940 created a landmark to show their pride. The Nittany Lion Shrine is one of the most beloved senior class gifts—and part of a tradition that remains strong today. The services, spaces, and resources made possible by student philanthropy have become integral to the University landscape. And as the Class of 2016 leaves their legacy through an endowment for Counseling and Psychological Services, Penn State students continue to prove that they are a family of people who want to make life better. Together, Penn Staters can accomplish anything. Small gifts. Big difference.

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Image of the Nittanly Lion crowdsurfing.

Changing the game.

Penn State has one of the largest alumni networks in the world. And every year, tens of thousands of Penn State alumni support their alma mater by making gifts to help students afford tuition, succeed on game day, bring groundbreaking ideas to life, and more. This collective support translates into millions of dollars and countless success stories. Together, our alumni are changing the game for our students. Together, we are Penn State.

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Image of Penn State Nittany Lion during THON event at the Bryce Jordan Center

Making a difference FTK

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon—THON—is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $127 million dollars for Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey to help in the fight against pediatric cancer. Last year, over 30,000 people made gifts so that one day there can be a cure for every child fighting cancer, and so that kids and families can get the help and support they need right now. THON is changing lives—and proving that every bit of care, effort, and support, no matter how small, can make a difference.

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Image of Penn State student Hayley in the HUB

Supporting an experience

Whether it’s for scholarships, research, athletics, or another area at the University that’s meaningful to you, your support is a huge part of what creates the Penn State experience. So often, philanthropy is what lets a new student say yes to an acceptance letter, buy a plane ticket to study abroad, or have the resources to turn a great idea into a real discovery. These moments define each Penn Stater’s experience—and stay with them for the rest of their lives.

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Image of a whiteout crowd cheering and waving pom poms

Gaining ground in the field

Every year, thousands of Nittany Lions fans make gifts to Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. And more than a third of these fans also support University academics. By making gifts to projects like Mashavu, a cell-phone based system that connects doctors all over the world to patients in developing countries, these super fans help our faculty and students to gain ground in important fields—while rooting for student-athlete success on the field.

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Image of student painting a mural

Providing a blank canvas

The College of Arts and Architecture is home to a world of talent. And with philanthropy, there is no shortage of possibility. Unrestricted gifts provide aspiring artists, architects, performers, and more with the tools and opportunities needed to develop their craft. This year, small gifts have purchased new sheet music and visual arts supplies, brought acclaimed guest artists and performers to campus classrooms, supported University summer classes for community K–12 art educators—and these are just a few examples. Your support lets us show our students that creativity knows no bounds.

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Student taking skin sample for research Photo credit: Pat Little

Solving big problems

Even five dollars can make a difference when you act as part of a community. At Penn State, crowdfunding is giving student groups and research projects the boost they need to get new ideas off the ground. Ideas like sequencing the “Nittany Lion” genome: With the support of 144 people, a student-driven research team recently raised $12,175 to study extinct mountain lion DNA, an effort that will inform conversation efforts for similar species around the country. For more information on this or other crowdfunding projects, visit Penn State’s crowdfunding website.

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Student working with children in Panama

Lending a helping hand

Penn State is a proud member of Global Brigades, the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. And in the College of Nursing, students in the Penn State Medical Brigade, one of nine Global Brigade subgroups on campus, are able to work in developing countries in part because of annual gifts made to the college. Recent Penn State Medical Brigade trips include nine-day visits to Panama and Honduras, where students engaged with local medical professionals in administering patient consultations, triage, and pharmaceutical care. Your support makes a difference for our students. And with your help, our students are making a difference in the world.

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