Ten fundraising positions become available in one month

Updated: July 1, 2015 at 12:55 p.m.

The University’s fundraising office has been on the hunt for 10 new employees to help push its $1 billion fundraising campaign past the finish line.

Ten positions have become available over the past six weeks in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and only five remain open, according to the University’s employment website. Experts say adding new blood in a fundraising office in the middle of a major fundraising push can be a critical step to keep the donations rolling in and maintain momentum as a school nears its goal.

The new hires also come after three high-level members of the University’s fundraising office have left over the course of the last year.

Titles for the positions include school-specific fundraising positions, like an associate director of development for the Elliott School of International Affairs – which has been filled – and an associate director of development for major gifts to the School of Business. But larger, big-picture posts are also available, including a senior director of planned giving and an associate director of corporate relations. Each school has its own smaller fundraising goal as part of GW’s $1 billion campaign, led by the school’s dean alongside the fundraising office.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to comment on whether the positions are newly created or are open as a result of layoffs or staff departures. She also declined to comment on the timeline to fill the positions and qualifications needed, citing a policy that the University does not comment on “personnel matters.”

The University announced in April that it would lay off 46 staffers. University officials have declined to confirm in which departments those cuts were made.

Two senior fundraising officials left the office recently, and both had been in their posts for no more than about a year, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide Collins confirmed in an interview last month.

Bernard Davisson, who was the senior associate vice president of development at GW, left the University in April to become West Virginia University’s senior vice president of development and chief development officer. Davisson had spent nearly three years at GW. Dwight Dozier left GW for the Georgia Tech Foundation in March to serve as chief information officer. He spent about one year as senior associate vice president at GW, according to his LinkedIn page.

“People go looking for people who are successful, and so you go and you want to pick off from schools where they’re going great things,” Collins said in the interview. “There is such momentum, there are so many great things going at at GW.”

Collins added that when a school makes progress in its own fundraising campaign, officials at other schools may lure those fundraiser in hopes of seeing similar success. GW has raised about $740 million since its campaign went public last summer.

“You go to places where there’s success and there’s momentum and wind and energy, and you say, ‘Let me get that person,’ and that happens all the time,” he said.

This is not the first time in the last year that there has been turnover in the fundraising office. Former head of fundraising Mike Morsberger stepped down in October, and was replaced with Collins, who was previously the vice president and secretary of the University, in February. Morsberger is now vice president for alumni relations and development at the University of Central Florida.

Arthur Criscillis, a managing partner at the fundraising consulting firm Alexander Haas, said that as officials add new members to the fundraising office, they will need to learn to work with existing staff in order to wrap up the campaign.

“They need to have good communication skills, need to be able to have good organization skills,” he said. “They have to have some degree of self-direction even though there are guidelines for what they are going to need to do. They’ve got to get out there and function.”

Jennifer Browning, the vice president of communications for the fundraising consulting firm the Winkler Group, said in an email that fundraising campaigns can still be successful, even with new staff members added during a campaign.

“Coming into a school in the middle of a campaign isn’t all that unusual and shouldn’t hinder success,” she said. “Good development or advancement professionals are quick studies.”

Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to a reporting error, the Hatchet incorrectly reported that Bernard Davisson had spent less than a year at GW. He had been at GW for nearly three years before leaving his position. We regret this error.

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