Senior class aims for record number participation in fundraising push

After last year’s seniors gave a record-breaking amount to GW, officials are hoping this year to see donations from 62 percent of graduating seniors.

Last year’s Senior Class Gift campaign raised $128,000 from 60 percent of seniors, meeting its participation goal. Juman Kekhia, the campaign’s lead coordinator, said in an interview that it only made sense to raise the bar this year.

“Coming off of last year and looking at the momentum that the campaign has built over the past four or five years, it was a logical increase to really motivate us to keep going in that trajectory of continuing to encourage more seniors to participate,” she said.

And as the University looks to reach the finish line on its $1 billion campaign, the Senior Class Gift is a key touch point for officials to lock in donations from seniors before they graduate, and to build a culture in which students always give back to GW.

Kekhia added that the leadership structure for the campaign will change for the first time this year. While there had historically been two coordinators, seniors who planned fundraising events and drove in donations from their peers, this year’s team is comprised of one lead coordinator and two assistant coordinators.

Kekhia said she will lead the campaign, along with Cindy Swanson and Kristen Barnes as her assistant coordinators, who are in charge of campaign operations and digital outreach, respectively.

Swanson, the campaign operations coordinator, will focus on background work in processing donations, while Barnes will boost the campaign’s presence on social media. Kekhia said the group will share stories from student leaders and other community members who have been positively affected by past years’ donations.

“This is a new model, but one of my personal goals is to make this a very personal campaign, and this model will help to give each person a very specific role and allow us to do a little bit more,” Kekhia said.

The campaign allows seniors to make donations to any part of GW, whether it be a student organization or an area, like financial aid or career services.

Kekhia said she’ll make her gift sometime in the coming days as one of the first donors to the campaign. She’ll split her gift between Balance: The GW Ballet Group and her sorority, which she declined to name because she will temporarily disaffiliate from her chapter in order to help students during sorority recruitment this semester.

Dan Saftig, a founding fundraiser at Saftig Consulting and the chief development officer of Arizona State University, said that student donation amounts are usually small, but the “solicitation program” can bring in enough donations to make a significant impact.

When alumni notice that students are willing to donate, they might be more willing to make gifts, too, he said.

“It can be motivation for potential alumni donors that students are giving even $10,” he said.

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