Understanding How THON, Four Diamonds Raise & Distribute Funds

THON raises millions of dollars annually in support of the Four Diamonds Fund, with a total of over $168 million raised over the course 47 years.

The organization also compiles an annual report that details the sources and uses of the funds it raises. These reports are available on its website, and offer insight as to where the millions THON raises come from and where they are allocated.

The list of THON’s top fundraising sources and uses have remained mostly unchanged over the last decade. From 2009’s $7.6 million total to 2019’s $11.4 million total and 2014’s record $13.8 million total in between, the organization’s greatest source of funding, generally between 70% and 80% over the course of the decade, came from individual contributions. These include canvassing contributions and online donations.

Corporate donations, fundraising events, and THON Store profits accounted for the remaining money raised by THON in that order. This wasn’t always the case — the THON store generated more funds than fundraising events in 2009 and 2010.

The vast majority of the money THON raises is directly contributed to Four Diamonds. For all but one year, THON contributed between 94% and 96% of the funds it raised to Four Diamonds. The remaining funds were reportedly put toward costs such as event management, development, a separate account balance for “miscellaneous holdbacks” and operations and administration costs, which include postage fees and space usage.

Like THON, Four Diamonds also releases an annual impact statement that describes how the contributions it receives are generated and then used. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, for example, Four Diamonds received $18.6 million in total contributions, with about $10.3 million coming from THON’s efforts. Mini-THONs contributed a significant $7.2 million, with the remainder contributed by memorial gifts, honor gifts, and a category marked “other.”

Four Diamonds distributed this total, and additional funds it raised during the previous fiscal year, to several different areas of need. $2.7 million of the total was directed toward patient care, while an additional $940,000 went to family support.

Four Diamonds contributed approximately $7.5 million in research grants and support combined, and an additional $5.67 million in research endowments. The latter included funding for an enhanced research space for the foundation at the Penn State College of Medicine, but relocated these funds to the following, current fiscal year when the project was delayed. Finally, the foundation spent close to $2.5 million on administrative expenses.

THON has undergone significant changes in the way its volunteers raise funds of late due to travel restrictions. But student organizations are optimistic about the future, and hope that new tactics will yield similar totals.

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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