Fundraising breaks record but slows rate of growth

GW shattered its fundraising record in fiscal year 2012 by tallying $120 million in donations, but saw a slower growth rate for money-raking than the year before.

Administrators broke the $119 million goal for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2011 and ended June 30, after the previous year brought in $113.5 million – marking the fifth straight year of increases in giving. But the University saw a record 21 percent growth in donations last year compared to fiscal year 2010 – far higher than this year’s 6 percent growth rate.

Mike Morsberger, vice president for development and alumni relations, said the University is seeing gains later in the game compared to similar institutions, which have focused more intensely on fundraising efforts for multiple decades – unlike GW, which only made development a priority in the last 10 years. The relative newness of the campaign for cash helps draw larger and more frequent gifts.

“When a fundraising and development program is just starting, the field of possible gifts is huge,” Morsberger, who was hired in 2010, said. “More mature programs have a smaller pool of new prospects, just because they’ve been asking more people more often.”

The University’s gifts this year outpaced those at other private schools, which saw fundraising increases of about 4.4 percent overall, according to estimates by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education published Aug. 7.

“I’m optimistic for continued growth in the coming year given the trajectory of the university – a bold new academic plan, a bold new visual identity and a decade of transformation for the University leading to our bicentennial in 2021,” Morsberger said.

This year’s donations will be the first to count under the comprehensive fundraising campaign. GW will make benchmarks for the campaign public around fiscal year 2015.

University President Steven Knapp first discussed the campaign when he arrived on campus in 2007, intensifying money drives by giving deans fundraising responsibilities.

Since his arrival, the Division of Development and Alumni Relations tripled its staff. Morsberger said he hopes to increase staff again by about 10 percent in the coming years.

Morsberger has championed personalized fundraising pitches that zone in on alumni interests during their college careers, hoping the ties to a club or athletic team push a former Colonial to give back.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.