University raises record amount

The University raised a record-breaking $94 million last fiscal year, a senior administrator said last week.

Despite missing the University’s $131 million fundraising goal, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Michael Morsberger said the $93.82 million is a record amount for the University, showing a slow but nevertheless upward trend in philanthropic contributions.

Morsberger said he believes philanthropy toward the University is on the rise.

“Our annual giving was up, gifts to the Power & Promise student aid fund greatly increased, Senior Class Gift participation was up and the total number of gifts and pledges also increased,” Morsberger said. “So we know people want to give.”

The Power & Promise Fund is a philanthropic campaign by the University to fund student aid, research and other academic opportunities.

Morsberger added that charitable giving has been down everywhere due to the economy, another obstacle the fundraising team had to overcome in reaching the previously set goal.

“The economy in the recent two years has certainly played a role in fundraising results,” he said, adding that giving to colleges and universities fell 11.9 percent in 2009.

Fundraising totals are measured by fiscal years, which begin July 1 and end June 30 the following year. This past fiscal year, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations was without a head fundraiser for more than seven months until Morsberger took the reins in early April. Laurel Price Jones, the former vice president for development and alumni relations, resigned from her position at the end of August 2009, shortly after the fiscal year began.

In February, with just over four months to go until the fundraising goal’s deadline, the University had raised just $43 million, The Hatchet previously reported. Morsberger helped GW pull in $51 million by the end of that fiscal year.

“It’s difficult to know how they arrived at that [$131 million] number,” Morsberger said of the University’s goal. “We had a couple eight-figure-size donor prospects that didn’t come through. In a troubled economy, people pull back.”

Morsberger – who led a $3 billion fundraising campaign at Johns Hopkins University – said he anticipates a much better year for GW, but shied away from setting a precise numerical goal.

“I’d like to avoid a single specific number,” he said. “I’d like to see a 10 to 15 percent growth.”

Overall, Morsberger said he is optimistic about the University’s fundraising potential.

“You cannot be in fundraising and not be an eternal optimist at heart,” Morsberger said. “I took this job because of the immense potential I see in dramatically increasing our giving participation, constituent engagement and philanthropic partnerships over the next decade.” u

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