Parent donations dip after record-high year

Media Credit: Anna McGarrigle | Senior Designer

GW will largely break from the pattern of pitching why campus visitors should donate to the University this weekend, when several thousand families flock to Foggy Bottom to visit students.

Unlike most events the University has hosted since launching its $1 billion campaign in June, officials will not highlight reasons why parents should give to GW during Colonials Weekend, even as donations from families dropped last year.

GW brought in about $6.3 million in donations from parents last year, down from $8 million in 2013. University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said the total amount dropped after receiving several large gifts the previous year.

When parents gave $8 million last year, that surge was nearly three times as much as what GW received in 2012.

Rodney Johnson, GW’s executive director of parent services, said the University would only pitch the campaign in subtle ways while parents focus on reconnecting with their children.

“You have to be really careful on how you present fundraising, and we want to do everything we can, but we don’t want to turn parents away,” he said.

Rob Henry, an executive director at the Council of Advancement and Support of Education, a firm that advises universities conducting fundraising campaigns, said parents will often give major donations to a school to feel more engaged with their children’s education after they’ve moved away from home.

“It’s still a great fundraising opportunity from the major gift perspective. Many are from affluent families who want to be engaged,” Henry said. “Parents want to be engaged. They want to be part of the institution.”

Fundraising officials have said that small nudges to give have increased donations from parents who are already paying tuition.

The Parents Campaign Philanthropy Board, a group of GW parents looking to engage other parents in the University’s capital campaign, will meet this weekend, and will strategize ways to involve more parents.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Michael Morsberger said the committee had played a critical role in increasing parent involvement.

The weekend is a chance to make more parents feel connected to the GW community, he said, and for parents who already donate to tell others why they chose to make a gift.

“They become a great ‘dadvocate’ and ambassador for what we’re trying to do,” he said.

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