The Danforth Circle pays tribute to the extraordinary contributions made by the late Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth and Elizabeth Gray Danforth during their 24 years as the university’s first couple.

Members of the Danforth Circle help sustain the exceptional teaching and research that are the hallmarks of a Washington University education through yearly unrestricted gifts of $25,000 or more. Annual giving serves as a catalyst for innovative endeavors throughout the university, and the chancellor and deans use these funds each year to seize opportunities and respond to urgent challenges as they arise. 

The Danforth Circle includes two giving levels

Annual unrestricted gifts

Dean’s Level

$25,000–$49,999

Chancellor’s Level

$50,000 or more

Bill and Ibby Danforth

“Contributing at the Danforth Circle level is about investing in the future. It’s about providing flexible funding that allows the university to take advantage of strategic opportunities when they arise. And it’s about coming around the table with like-minded philanthropists to learn, collaborate, and make a difference.”

Jennifer Hillman, MFA ’79

Impact

In 2020–21, Danforth Circle members contributed nearly $31 million in unrestricted gifts to the university. The Danforth Circle is a major source of funding for scholarships and student aid each year. Contributions from members make it possible for the university to enhance academic programs and build a distinguished faculty of scholars and scientists—faculty who contribute new knowledge and inspire generations of students.

Danforth Circle members make up less than 1% of donors who contribute to the Annual Fund, yet they contribute nearly 40% of Annual Fund dollars. This group of exceptional donors has played a key role in growing the Annual Fund from $8.4 million in 1994 to more than $30.7 million in 2021.

Benefits of membership

  • Danforth Circle members have access to all Eliot Society benefits.
  • They are invited to a special dinner in their honor, hosted by Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Stephanie S. Martin.
  • Their name, along with those of other current annual members and life members of the Danforth Circle, will be engraved on a plaque displayed on the wall outside the chancellor’s office in North Brookings Hall.
  • They may sponsor student scholarships in their own name or that of someone whom they wish to honor.
  • They may join Whittemore House, which offers fine dining on the Danforth Campus in a club atmosphere. They also may reserve the large and small dining rooms for wedding receptions, private parties, and other special events.
  • Their generosity to Washington University will be recognized in the Eliot Society’s annual Honor Roll of Donors, unless they wish to remain anonymous.