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The “Teach It Forward” Campaign–Where is it now?

The “Teach It Forward” campaign was launched by Williams in 2015. Ephblog had posted about this at the start of the campaign, but there haven’t yet been any follow-ups on the campaign’s progression. It’s useful to look at its results so far.

According to the TIF website, the college has raised $685.01 million so far, making TIF the most ambitious and most successful campaign “in the history of liberal arts colleges” to date. This value surpasses the $650 million target that was set initially. Alumni participation (in terms of donations) stands at 74.1%, just under the 75% target. Overall alumni participation (in terms of both donations and volunteering) stands at 85%.

It would be interesting to see how the college has spent and plans to spend the money it has raised. Have they released information to alumni regarding how much of the $685 million they have alotted to different areas of expense?

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14 Comments To "The “Teach It Forward” Campaign–Where is it now?"

#1 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On June 22, 2019 @ 10:38 pm

purple & gold: Welcome to EphBlog! Hope you post more!

> Have they released information

Not that I have seen. But note that such allocations are meaningless because money is fungible. Even if 100% of the money were dedicated to, say, financial aid, Williams would just redirect the money that they would have spent on aid elsewhere.

The College will spend what it wants, where it wants. Only a tiny handful of alums have any “control” over that and, even that control is limited.

> value surpasses the $650 million target

Yeah, but the stock market is up big since 2015. If we had raised the target at the same pace, it would be well over a billion by now . . .

#2 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On June 22, 2019 @ 10:39 pm

I am vaguely suspicious of the 85% number. Who are the 10% of alumni who won’t give a single dollar to Williams — over a five year period! — but will “volunteer” to help Williams? I have never met anyone like that . . .

#3 Comment By Will Stewart On June 23, 2019 @ 1:07 pm

John Drew’s punishment on EphBlog should encourage more donations to Williams.

#4 Comment By purple & gold On June 23, 2019 @ 1:19 pm

@DDF’s first comment(#1):
I think the key phrase is “at the same pace”. I’m willing to bet that donations dropped after alumni saw that the college had already met its goal. If the college had wanted to raise a billion (and they probably will sometime in the future), then they would’ve set that goal.

@Will Stewart’s comment (#3):
Personally, I don’t think it’s a punishment at all. It just creates an echo chamber (ironic) where his toxicity goes undebated. I don’t know about donations, but I’d bet that more people would write for Ephblog were it not for its current atmosphere. BH’s comment under “A Six Month Experiment” put it better than I could.

#5 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On June 23, 2019 @ 10:35 pm

Interesting post purple and gold. I appreciate it!

Its hard to wrap my head around the kinds of numbers represented by this campaign and the endowment. Apparently the endowment is now worth north of $2 Billion, and annual expeditures are in the $250 million range. So this means that the money raised during the TIF Campaign was almost, by itself, enough to fund 50% of the College’s expenses during this period. Tuition and fees probably bring in another $100 million or more annually (2000 kids x about $50,000 per kid).

What is the College doing with all this money it is raising and growing in the endowment? Is there an end game for the endowment, or does the College simply want to grow it so that it becomes larger and larger relative to college expenditures (like Harvard’s endowment).

#6 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On June 23, 2019 @ 10:39 pm

> I’m willing to bet that donations dropped after alumni saw that the college had already met its goal.

No, at least for 99% of alums. The College kept these numbers largely secret during the campaign, and the vast majority of alums don’t follow the totals closely.

> If the college had wanted to raise a billion (and they probably will sometime in the future), then they would’ve set that goal.

No. That isn’t how fundraising works, at Williams or anywhere else. Institutions pick the largest number X which they think they have a 90% chance of reaching. Williams would have loved to raise a billion, to be, for example, as generous as Harvard/Princeton/Stanford with financial aid. They thought, back in 2015, that 650 was more reasonable.

#7 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On June 23, 2019 @ 10:41 pm

> It just creates an echo chamber (ironic) where his toxicity goes undebated.

I can’t imagine anything more boring than a debate about JCD’s toxicity, or lack thereof. (And we have had way too much of that debate in the past.) Indeed, a key purpose of the experiment is precisely to end that debate.

I fully expect that you will find, whatever JCD’s sins have been in the past, that his next 20 posts will be non-toxic. If they aren’t, we can revisit.

#8 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On June 23, 2019 @ 10:43 pm

> I’d bet that more people would write for Ephblog were it not for its current atmosphere

We did this experiment about a year ago, at the suggestion of some longtime EphBlog readers. JCD stop all posting/commenting at EphBlog for six months, at my request. There was no increase in authors.

#9 Comment By purple & gold On June 24, 2019 @ 7:50 am

@Whitney Wilson’s comment (#5):
I’m glad you appreciate it. I really have no idea why the college needs to raise so much. The college’s endowment is now $2.8 billion, according to their website. The college was thus able to raise nearly a fourth of that amount just in this one campaign. It seems like overkill–maybe they’re just doing it because they can. But if it means that more money goes towards financial aid and funding for student activities, then I’m all for it.

The college spends around $117k a year on each student. Half of that amount ($59k) is funded by the endowment, and only a third of that amount ($38-39k) is funded by student tuition. The rest is funded through alumni donations and other sources. Maybe the college wants to be able to set aside some money for constructing facilities or something without having to dip into the endowment, which is necessary for the college to maintain its current levels of high spending.

#10 Comment By purple & gold On June 24, 2019 @ 7:53 am

@ DDF’s comment about the campaign (#6):
Thank you for the insight. I’m guessing that the effects from marketing must’ve worn off after a few years.

@DDF’s comments about JCD (#7 and #8):
I’ll trust that you know best. Hopefully, it all works out.

#11 Comment By fendertweed On June 24, 2019 @ 7:53 am

Lol at characterizing JCD’s treatment as “punishment “ ….

He has his audience, his microphone, and his American Tourister luggage & feces to throw around the cage with no one to question it …he’s a happy chimp.

#12 Comment By 89’er On June 24, 2019 @ 7:53 pm

Chimp or chump. Six or half dozen.

#13 Comment By yuengling On June 24, 2019 @ 11:07 pm

@purple and gold (#9)

I’ve have a bit of an issue with the way the college calculates its cost per student of $117k. Based on a little bit of digging into the financial documents that are available (and I’ll admit that they sometimes overwhelm me, so maybe I’m misreading), it looks like they include the “cost” of college-provided financial aid in the overall cost per student. This is just the difference between average financial aid and the sticker tuition price. This isn’t a real expenditure for Williams. If the college raised the sticker tuition to $1 Million, but kept every student paying the same amount they are currently paying and made up the difference with financial aid, then the average cost of financial aid would jump to over $900k. As a result, under their advertised formula, Williams could say the “cost” of a Williams education is nearly $1 million per student, even though nothing would have changed in the actual expenditures or operation of the college.

#14 Comment By purple & gold On June 25, 2019 @ 5:54 am

@yuengling (#13):
That’s a good point to consider, but I think you must have misread something. This is how the office of the provost breaks down the per-student expenditure:

“Last year we invested $116,000 in each of our students…Fifty-eight percent of that spending went toward compensating our employees…Maintaining [security, dining, and facilities], and repaying the debt that financed [the facilities’] construction, consumed another 18 percent of the budget. The remaining 24 percent of the budget included everything that is neither a person nor a building, such as food, fuel, electricity, books, computers, and travel.”

The above is quoted from the office of the provost’s website. It seems like financial aid isn’t included in their calculations.

Link to the website: https://provost.williams.edu/priorities-and-resources/