Trustee sets high bar for Senior Class Gift

The senior class has been issued a $50,000 challenge.

If at least half of the class donates to the Senior Class Gift Campaign, Vice Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees Nelson Carbonell will donate to the Power & Promise scholarship fund, the University will announce Tuesday.

“A scholarship made my GW education possible, so I understand firsthand the power of student aid funding,” Carbonell said.

Passing the 50-percent benchmark will be a feat for the Class of 2012, as no class since the creation of the gift committee has been able to pass the 43-percent mark. But getting at least 1,130 students to donate to the University has been Senior Class Gift Committee Coordinator Victoria Hartman’s goal since she took over the post last spring.

As of Jan. 14, 13 percent of seniors, or 283 students, made donations ­– ahead of last year’s figures. Last year, 43 percent of the Class of 2011 raised about $90,000, including both student contributions and the matching funds from members of the Luther Rice Society.

“We are on a clear trajectory to meet the challenge goal and give the largest Senior Class Gift in GW history,” Hartman said.

Carbonell’s fixed donation is a switch from how the campaign has used outside donations in the past. In previous years, members of the alumni organization the Luther Rice Society matched gifts given by the senior class. While seniors could give to any area of the University they chose, the matching funds went to a collective project voted on by the class. The Class of 2010 directed its gift toward Gelman Library and the Class of 2011 sent the money to an emergency scholarship fund.

“With this challenge, Nelson and [his wife] Michele [Carbonell] are inspiring our students to begin the habit of giving to GW and becoming our philanthropic partners as we enter a decade of transformation,” Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger said.

Earlier this year, the University declined to say why the Luther Rice Society did not sign on to match the Class of 2012’s gift. Senior Director of Communications at the Office of Development and Alumni Relations David Garofalo said in September that the University was searching beyond the society for a contributing non-student donor.

Throughout the year, the senior class gift committee has put a spotlight on increasing turnout among seniors. Organizers will track progress toward the participation goal on the senior class gift website and social media platforms.

“With $50,000 for student scholarships and financial aid on the line, I’m certain that the Class of 2012 will come together for the cause of philanthropy and giving back to what they care about at GW,” Hartman said.

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