Following record growth in its endowment, GW plans to hire eight to 10 employees to assist with fundraising in an effort to help the University achieve a fourth consecutive year of increasing donations.
At this month’s Board of Trustees meeting, the University’s highest governing board increased the amount of money GW is allowed to take from its endowment, called the yield. After a record increase in the size of the endowment, which grew by 12.2 percent, the board voted to allocate $1 million more to the University’s Office of Advancement, Executive Vice President and Treasurer Loius Katz said.
With the increased money for the Advancement Office, Laurel Price Jones, vice president of Advancement, said she will hire more staff to help achieve the fundraising goals. She said 110 people work in the fundraising office.
“My focus is on getting into $125 million a year or more, and that’s going to mean an increase in staff,” Jones said.
She added, “If we hire people now, we expect to see results six months from now.”
The University fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. Jones said the fundraising goal for fiscal year 2006 is $70 million, and that the University has raised about $35 million with about four months remaining in the cycle. Jones said she expects some large donations in the coming months.
Donations to GW have increased in each of the last three years. In fiscal year 2003, the University received $55 million in donations, while in 2004 GW received $57 million in gifts and $62 million in 2005.
Jones said that while GW does not raise as much money through gifts as some other schools, GW also does not spend as much money on fundraising. Last fiscal year Stanford University raised $603 million compared with GW’s $62 million, according to a report last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
University administrators said they are optimistic about future fundraising efforts.
“We have a lot of opportunities to increase fundraising,” Katz said last week. “Students coming here; today want to be here, it is their first-choice school. When people feel attached to their University as an undergraduate they will be more likely to get into a habit of giving back.”
GW fundraises through various means, including planned giving, where donors set aside money to be given to the University upon their deaths, Jones said. Another initiative targets GW alumni to donate restricted or unrestricted money. Restricted gifts are given to a specific area of the school such as the athletics program or a specific college within the University; unrestricted money is donated to a general annual GW fund, Jones said.
Margie Shepard, associate vice president of Advancement school programs, said she sees fundraising as a way to nurture long-term relationships with alumni.
“We really embrace the philosophy that every student is an alumni-in-training,” Shepard said. “The increase of graduates who have given means they feel so passionately they want to ensure the financial strength of the University.”
GW also fundraises when the University hosts reunion parties, said Jane Kolson, assistant of vice president of Advancement for planned and principal gifts. Kolson said GW relies on alumni, some of whom help organize and host GW fundraising efforts.
Don Polden, who graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, organizes regional events where he lives in San Francisco that bring GW alumni in the area together.
“Fundraising permits the dean and faculty to achieve the goals they have set for the school,” Polden said. “It provides important financial assistance, through scholarships and other forms of financial support, for students.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week that universities nationwide have seen an increase in large private donations, while the actual number of alumni who donate has decreased. Although GW has not seen the same increase in large-sum donations, it has seen an increase in overall donation dollars in the last three years, Jones said. Large donations are classified as gifts of $10 million or more.
Jones said she hopes GW may be able to get as many large-sum donations as prestigious universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Georgetown and Dartmouth.
“Historically, GW has struggled in securing gifts of $10 million and above, but we can do it,” Jones said. “There’s no reason we can’t find people who are engaged in the University … and especially now the University is so much more competitive.”
– Brandon Butler contributed to this report.