Growing rate of alumni donations provides an edge for GW

The percentage of undergraduate alumni who participate in GW’s annual giving program has nearly doubled from four years ago, according to statistics from the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs.

The office is attempting to increase the percentage of undergraduate alumni who financially support GW, Michael J. Worth, vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs, wrote in a memo July 28.

“As you know, U.S. News & World Report uses the undergraduate alumni participation rate as one criterion in calculating its rankings, based on the assumption that it is an indicator of alumni satisfaction with the undergraduate experience,” Worth wrote to GW deans, vice presidents and the committee on Development and Alumni Affairs.

The percentage of undergraduate alumni who donated to GW in fiscal year 1995 was 16.2 percent. Worth said that in fiscal year 1999, which ended June 30, 29.2 percent financially supported GW.

Worth said the use of the U.S. News statistic is not the primary reason his office has been attempting to raise the percentage of participation.

The budget for raising money has increased, and GW contacts alumni “virtually every evening,” Worth said.

“Our alumni relations programs have expanded,” Worth said. “Alumni are more involved in the University.”

Alex Laster, chairman of the GW Student Alumni Society, said the statistics prove his organization’s efforts were effective. The Student Alumni Society is designed to promote interaction between current students and alumni, he said.

“We are in connection with GW administrators who have us going to (alumni) events,” Laster said.

Worth said if one looks at giving during a five-year period, 50 percent of undergraduate alumni have given at least once. He also said his office’s long-term goal is to have 50 percent participation each year.

GW administrators said undergraduate alumni support is comparable to other top research universities. According to data compiled by the Office of Development, Yale University has a 50 percent participation rate, Georgetown University has a 28 percent participation rate and both Boston and New York universities have a 13 percent participation rate.

“If you take a look at other comparable institutions, we’re right up there,” GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said.

Worth said, over time, the statistic will continue to grow, but will probably grow at a slower pace after it passes the 30 percent mark. Worth said $19.6 million was donated by undergraduate alumni in 1999, compared with $7.6 million donated in 1998.

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