The amount of pledged gifts that GW expects to receive from donations promised in or before fiscal year 2015 dropped by 28 percent compared to the previous year.
GW is waiting on $94 million worth of pledged gifts after officials closed the books on fiscal year 2015, according to recently released financial reports. Pledged gifts, which donors promise to pay out over a certain time period, spiked to $130 million in fiscal year 2014. Experts say a drop in pledged gifts is promising, because it could mean officials are collecting the amounts in cash.
The difference between the pledged gifts totals in fiscal year 2014 and 2015 is about $36 million, and represents either the donations GW collected in cash that had previously been pledged or the pledges that donors decided not to fulfill.
Officials said more donors came through on their promises to donate in fiscal year 2014, as the $1 billion fundraising campaign picked up steam. The number of pledged donations remained about the same in 2012 and 2013, according to the reports.
“The University received several pledge payments, including installment and final payments against major pledges, for donors in the midst of paying multi-year pledges,” University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said.
Csellar declined to explicitly say how much GW received in cash from pledged gifts last fiscal year and how many pledges were retracted, citing a confidentiality policy to protect donors.
Jessica Browning, the vice president for communications at the fundraising firm Winkler Group, said donors sometimes do not end up fulfilling their pledged donations. Often when donors agree to make a large gift, they agree to a timeline with officials about how long they’ll have to make the donation. For example, some large gifts may be paid off over the course of several years.
“All universities and nonprofits see a percentage of pledges that are not fulfilled ‒ most take these non-fulfillment rates into consideration when setting fundraising goals,” Browning said.
GW collected $98.5 million in pledged gifts in fiscal year 2014, according to a Council for Aid to Education report. That amount was lower than 10 of GW’s peer institutions, according to the report.
Anthony Yezer, an economics professor and the former chair of the Faculty Senate’s finance committee, pointed to increased donations overall last year.
Officials raised $230 million last fiscal year, the highest amount in the University’s history. GW has also received some of its largest-ever donations in the past few years, including $80 million to the Milken Institute School of Public Health.
He also said the decrease between fiscal years 2014 and 2015 is “an indication of a successful year in fundraising,” because donors are making good on their promises, and shows that the University “is getting more high-rollers donating.”
Ryan Lasker contributed reporting.