Enriching Lives, Deepening Conversations

The Bestor Society is a community of Chautauqua's closest friends whose generous leadership support plays an instrumental role in advancing the work of Chautauqua Institution. Members enjoy unparalleled access to Institution programs, most notably exclusive receptions and luncheons with program leadership, the multi-day Scholar in Residence intensive, and other gatherings during the season and throughout the year. Those who wish to engage deeper in Chautauqua's work are encouraged to join.

Bestor Society members are committed to active engagement in Chautauqua's programs, serve as advocates and ambassadors, and help sustain the Institution's mission by amplifying our work for greater impact in shaping a better tomorrow. 

Membership provides important, unrestricted support that advances all facets of the Institution's work. Members understand the importance of curating artistic expression, the value of assembly to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and the engagement with others to convene probing conversations on important issues of the day.

Join the Bestor Society to advance and expand the work of Chautauqua Institution. Your support is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Benefits of Bestor Society Membership

  • Invitation to the annual President's Address
  • Invitation to the Scholar-in-Residence Program
  • Opportunity for invitation to select event(s) at the President's Cottage
  • Invitations to special tours and/or events hosted by Chautauqua's artistic directors or leadership 
  • Invitation to luncheon with featured program participant 
  • Complimentary subscription to PILLARS, a semi-annual publication for community leaders
  • NEW Bestor Society members also enjoy invitation to a reception honoring new leadership donors and receive a welcome basket upon arrival at Chautauqua

Benefits of Patron Club Membership

  • Enjoy the benefits of Bestor Society membership, AND invitation to a special dinner and/or intimate dialogues in private homes with program participants

Benefits of Benefactor Club Membership

  • Enjoy the benefits of Patron Club-level Bestor Society membership, AND invitation to a private luncheon with the Institution's president

Benefits of President's Circle Membership

  • Enjoy the benefits of Benefactor Club-level Bestor Society membership, AND selection of a complimentary copy of a CLSC book of their choosing from the current year's featured titles

Arthur E. Bestor

Arthur E. Bestor's Chautauqua presidency from 1915 to 1944 saw the Institution through an astonishing period of achievement and growth. Under his leadership, the Institution surmounted difficulties experienced by a country during two world wars and a depression. He realized that while persistence may have achieved his dreams, only passion would sustain them. Maintaining Chautauqua's programming, which had achieved world acclaim, would require ongoing devotion and support. More than 75 years later, the society that bears his name also shares his passion for maintaining Chautauqua's greatness. Today's builders... today's visionaries... those who care deeply about furthering the Institution's stability... form Chautauqua's Bestor Society.

Leadership Giving

While gifts of any amount are most welcome and deeply appreciated, leadership giving is a wonderful way to help sustain the delivery of the Chautauqua experience at the highest quality and to more deeply engage with the program and community.


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Sponsor Club $5,000+
Patron Club $10,000+
Benefactor Club $25,000+
Presidents Circle $50,000+

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Member $1,874 to $3,499
Fellow $3,500 to $4,999

Chautauqua Institution represents many things to many people. It is a venue for diverse performances, a retreat for reflection, a vibrant outlet for the arts, a hub of education, an inventive forum for debate, and much more …

Above all, it is a community! Although the unique pieces which together make up this community are constantly evolving, its constancy is rooted in the interconnectedness of its members and a kindred belief in what brings us together. On the shores of Chautauqua Lake, the Institution comes alive each summer. Over the course of nine weeks more than 100,000 visitors become members of this community, carrying the spirit of Chautauqua with them when they leave.

The unique sense of community that is present at Chautauqua can seem magical, but it is only with the very intentional and generous encouragement of its members that it flourishes. Active engagement, particularly through volunteerism and philanthropy, reinforces the easily identified pillars of Chautauqua's mission — the arts, education, religion and recreation — and the overarching spirit of community which cannot be seen but, rather, felt.


bestor society logo with wordsBestor Society

The Bestor Society recognizes those whose leadership gifts to the annual fund of $5,000 or more help sustain the delivery of the entire Chautauqua experience and inspire others to acts of similar generosity.

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1874 Society

The 1874 Society recognizes donors who generously honor Chautauqua's legacy with leadership gifts to the annual fund in the amount of $1,874–$4,999.

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belltowersociety logoBell Tower Society

The Bell Tower Society has been established to recognize those who make a monthly recurring gift to the Chautauqua Fund, providing consistent and sustainable support.

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daugherty logoDaugherty Society

By making a planned gift to Chautauqua Foundation, Inc., you are entitled to membership in the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society, a group of Chautauquans who have included Chautauqua Foundation in their will or other estate plans.

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logo now genNOW Generation

The NOW Generation is comprised of young adults (ages 21–40) who find value and meaning in promoting the Chautauqua experience and devote their time, energy and resources to ensuring its longevity and continued relevance.

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MillerCircleLogoLewis Miller Circle

The Lewis Miller Circle recognizes members of the NOW Generation whose leadership gifts to the annual fund of $250 or more help sustain the delivery of the entire Chautauqua experience, and inspire others to join them in similar acts of generosity.

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foundation logo smThe Foundation

Those who are eligible for membership of the Chautauqua Foundation corporation have served or currently serve on the Foundation's Board of Directors or the Institution's Board of Trustees, and anyone who has made gifts to the Foundation that in the aggregate exceed $1,000.

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A matching gift is a donation from the company you work for—or have retired from—to a charitable organization of your designation. An increasing number of companies are offering matching gifts for both employees and retirees, investing in their philanthropic interests. Each company varies in policy, as well as by their percentage of a match.  Utilizing a matching gift is a significant and easy way to maximize the impact of your generosity. To see if your company has a matching gift program, check with your employer’s Human Resource/Personnel office.  Make your gift count even more.... Inspire a corporate matching gift!


The Chautauqua Foundation welcomes gifts that celebrate relationships and our connections with others. Gifts commemorating special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and weddings are deeply appreciated. Remembering someone who loved CHQ can also be done meaningfully and in a way that is appropriate to the person to whom you wish to pay tribute.

If you would like to honor or recognize a friend or family member, there are numerous ways to do so. A popular means of celebrating the life of another is to make a gift to the Chautauqua Fund. Establishing an endowed scholarship, lectureship, chaplaincy, or other endowment opportunity offers a thoughtful way to remember a loved one in perpetuity.


Your 100% tax-deductible gift to the Chautauqua Foundation's endowment will help to provide, in perpetuity, a predictable and growing stream of support to the Institution and its programs. Gifts to endowment may be designated to an area of your choosing, or go to unrestricted endowment in support of the totality of the Chautauqua experience. 


The key attributes of unspecified and other forms of endowment are permanence, in the form of resources secured and stewarded for the perpetual benefit of Chautauqua; predictability, that is, the one financial resource in the annual budgeting exercise that can be known in advance of the conduct of the program; and either flexibility or certainty. Flexibility is gained to the degree that resources are not dedicated to a specific, narrowly defined application and, thus, they recognize and enable essential creativity. Certainty is attained in the case of intentionally specific applications of endowments (for facilities or scholarships, for example) to an area deemed a permanent commitment.


There could be no clearer or more affirming signal of your commitment to this special place than with a gift of unspecified endowment. For most Chautauquans, the totality of the experience means soaking in all that Chautauqua has to offer—a wide breadth of programs, a beautiful setting, and a community of people that collectively create Chautauqua. Affirming this totality and recognizing that indeed as a whole is worth more than the sum of its parts, is the message of unspecified endowment.

Supporting unspecified endowment recognizes that every aspect of Chautauqua must be tended to, that the Chautauqua we leave behind for the generations who follow must be one that celebrates all the ways we affirm the living of lives that contribute to society's well-being. It is hard to imagine how the country and the world will change in the next fifty or one-hundred years. Chautauqua will need to adapt to those changes if it is to continue explore the best of human values. The one resource that will best allow us to do so is unspecified endowment.

Recognition Opportunities

Chautauqua provides recognition opportunities for restricted gifts that create endowments or term funds. Recognition is associated with endowed funds as long as the endowments exist, and with term funds until they are completely expended. Named gifts may be used to recognize the donor, memorialize a loved one, or honor a friend, while supporting a worthy purpose of your choice – whether for scholarships to outstanding students, for the lecture platform, in support of the religion department, for Chautauqua’s Schools of Fine and Performing Arts, in support of the grounds including buildings and gardens or other programs.

Endowment Management

The Foundation's Investment Committee oversees the policies, strategies and performance of invested assets. For funds held in perpetuity, our belief is that good long term investment performance, in terms of both risk and return, is dependent on prudent asset allocation among appropriate classes of assets and diversification within individual classes. The overall objective of the Foundation investment program is to maintain and grow the real, inflation-adjusted, value of endowment assets while providing a predictable and growing stream of support to the Institution.

As long-term investors, the Foundation allocates 80% of its invested assets to equity or equity surrogates; the balance is held in fixed income investments. The equity allocation contains allocations to both hedge funds and private equity.

The Foundation retains Hirtle, Callaghan & Co., Inc. of West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, as Chief Investment Officer to direct this process. Hirtle, Callaghan is responsible for the selection of individual money managers except the allocations to Blackstone Alternative Asset Management's Park Fund and to Pointer Management, two distinct hedge funds.