Fundraising on path to beat past records

The University is on track to beat last year’s record fundraising, indicating a trend that GW’s top development administrator hopes could help double annual donations in 10 years.

Donations tally $56 million so far in the 2012 fiscal year, which began in July. That figure represents a 32-percent jump from this time last year.

The University’s fundraising goal this year is $119 million – about 10 percent higher than its 2011 target – Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger said.

Morsberger is optimistic that GW is “well on [its] way to meeting or exceeding our goal.”

The University topped its last goal of $100 million when it raked in a record $113.5 million during fiscal year 2011, a 21-percent increase over the year before.

“I find that quite encouraging, especially in a time of continuing challenges for the U.S. and global economies,” University President Steven Knapp said of this year’s fundraising spike, adding that giving rates are usually higher for the spring than the fall.

Knapp credited deans, faculty and the development staff with contributing to the fundraising jump.

In December 2009, Knapp announced that deans would spend nearly half their time fundraising – a change from their previously academic-focused roles. Knapp was known for increasing dean involvement in development efforts while provost of Johns Hopkins University.

The University’s double-digit development growth last year far outpaced other colleges nationwide that saw development slowdowns with the onset of the recession, according to the 2011 Voluntary Support of Education Survey.

The annual report, released by the Council for Aid to Education each February, found that donations to higher education rose just 0.5 percent overall at a time when GW saw a 21-percent jump.

GW’s fundraising success, Morsberger said, stems from its heightened reputation, but he added that the University has also been playing catch-up with its peers.

“First and foremost, as an institution, we were late to this dance,” Morsberger said, noting that the University’s development presence was small compared to market-basket schools until 10 years ago.

Since that time, University administrators and trustees have prioritized fundraising and formalized development activities like Alumni Weekend and the Senior Class Gift campaign.

Morsberger also praised Knapp, who emphasized fundraising as a top priority when he joined the University in 2007.

Alumni continue to make up the largest group of individual donors, followed by parents and friends, Morsberger said. The majority of dollars so far have come from foundations and organizations.

This fiscal year’s donations will be the first to count toward the bottom-line of a new comprehensive fundraising campaign announced in October.

Still in its “quiet phase,” the campaign’s leaders will announce goals and a time frame during the campaign’s formal public launch in 2014 or 2015, Morsberger said.

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