Five Smooth Stones Campaign raises ten of millions, wins awards


The Five Smooth Stones Campaign, a fundraising effort that allocates money to five areas known as “stones,” has raised a total of $65,890,043 as of Oct. 24, 2018 in current pledges and gifts since the campaign’s start in 2016.

The name of the campaign is inspired by a part in the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:40: “Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in hand, approached the Philistine.”

Multiple fundraising efforts were implemented in order to raise the campaign money. Gift officers and students reached out to the community with phone-a-thon events, the grants team submitted proposals for grants, direct mail pieces are sent out for participation in the annual fund and the list goes on.

Calvin has also received campaign donations in the forms of pledges and estate gifts. Of the pledges, all are in writing and the pledgers hold fast to their donation. For the estate gifts, a total of $18,528,524 has been raised, but Calvin will not receive this money until the owners of the estates pass away, which makes current planning and fund allocation a bit tricky. Projects are only undertaken with current pledges and gifts.

Recently, Calvin received the 2018 CASE Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Performance. Calvin was one of 90 post-secondary institutions in the nation to be recognized for this achievement, further displaying the support and belief people have for Calvin.

“We have received donations from individuals and companies or businesses, a total of 19,000 thus far. This tells us [Calvin College] that they [the donors] believe in us,” said Ken Erffmeyer, vice president for advancement.

The money raised has been divided among the five smooth stones with the largest sum of $31,813,387 set toward the first stone.

The first stone, or goal, is an open invitation that focuses on ensuring access and affordability of Calvin for students. Focusing on the endowment, annual fund and scholarships will give Calvin the opportunity to open its door to more students.

A classroom with a future is the main premise of the second stone. Spaces in Hiemenga Hall, Spoelhof Center and the Science Building will be targeted for improvements and renewal in order to promote learning in an environment that mimics the rest of the world in technological advancements and new and improved ways of learning.

The third stone works toward an investment in Christian thought. Through endowed department chair, faculty-student research, faculty development and scholarship of centers and institutes, Calvin will seek to invest in these areas in order to promote Christian leadership across all departments and innovative scholarship amongst students and faculty on campus.

With the hope of bringing people together and promoting creativity, the fourth stone seeks to create spaces that inspire. This project includes the new campus union, the renovation in Commons Dining Hall and Commons Lawn.

Lastly, the fifth stone, of a calling that matters, aims to help students prepare for their lifelong calling after graduation. Support for this will come from a gift and skills assessment, seminars and scholarships through the Calvin LifeWork program. LifeWork is a central idea to this stone as a four-year program, to give students workplace knowledge useful for the entirety of their careers.