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The overarching goal of Philanthropy Week is to educate students, alumni, campus, and the broader community about the benefits of philanthropy—the importance of volunteerism, charitable giving, and other efforts to better our world, and especially how philanthropy and the generosity of donors affect all of SU.


Members of the Student Philanthropy Council—including Jennie May ’17, Matt Stedman ’18, Nick Gold ’19 , Serena Deseta ’18, and Malcolm-Ali Davis ’18, who are featured in the video above—serve as hosts for the week. These student ambassadors come from various academic majors and class years, but share a common commitment to giving back and supporting SU, helping to build a culture of philanthropy on campus among their fellow students.

Why in March?

Philanthropy Week occurs in March—approximately 80% of the way through the academic year—to symbolize the fact that tuition and fees paid by students cover approximately 80% of the cost of running the University each year. The remainder—nearly $150 million—comes from gifts, grants and other sources.

It’s also the perfect time to recognize the people who have shaped Syracuse University into what it is today, celebrate Syracuse University on the anniversary of its founding, and begin to build for the future of SU.

  • Thank-a-Donor Day is when we say thank you to all of the donors who have helped support Syracuse University, its students, faculty, and staff.
  • March 24 is National Orange Day. On this day, we celebrate everything that makes SU great.
  • Class Act Day is when SU students help build for the future through class giving campaigns.
  • The highlight of the week, the Orange Circle Award is given to alumni and student groups who demonstrate philanthropy throughout their lives. Prior to the awards presentation, the Phanstiel Lecture focuses on the importance of philanthropy.

How Philanthropy Week Began

Support from Howie Phanstiel ’70, G’71, and his wife, Louise, played a large role in the creation of Philanthropy Week. In 2010, Phanstiel, a graduate of The College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and Louise gave $20 million to create the Phanstiel Scholars program.

The program not only provides financial resources for middle-class students to attend SU, but also creates a spirit of philanthropy among Phanstiel Scholarship recipients. Phanstiel Scholars are expected to pay forward their time, money, and talent to make the world a better place.