New fundraising hires slow as campaign advances

Media Credit: Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide Collins said at this month's Faculty Senate meeting that the number of fundraising staff has leveled off since GW's $1 billion campaign publicly launched in 2014.

The development office is “leveling off” its hiring as the close of the $1 billion campaign draws nearer.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide Collins told the Faculty Senate this month that the number of new staff being hired to run GW’s fundraising operation has plateaued since the campaign’s public launch in 2014. Experts said hiring momentum often peaks near the beginning of a campaign as universities prepare to expand their donor pool and increase excitement around the fundraising push.

The office grew 30 percent between 2010 and 2013, as officials prepared to launch the campaign. It has remained at about 17 staffers since at least August 2014, according to an analysis of the office’s archived webpages.

Officials added a staffer in the College of Professional Studies and in the Graduate School of Political Management in September 2015, according to archived webpages. Currently there is one opening on GW’s jobs website for a development and alumni relations assistant in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

“These staff work on a daily basis with the deans and program directors to understand potential donors’ interests and identify areas where there are intersections with the University’s strategic priorities,” Collins said in an email. “Through these collaborations, we have engaged more alumni and friends than we ever have before.”

Collins declined to say specifically how many staffers have been hired since the start of the campaign, which has now raised about $835 million.

“I can’t say I don’t want more staff. Who wouldn’t want that?” Collins said at the Faculty Senate meeting. “The staff I inherited and the budget and staffing we have now is appropriate for what we’re doing.”

In June, 10 fundraising positions opened in the fundraising office and five of them were closed by the end of the month.

Over the course of the campaign, several of the the operation’s top leaders have left GW, which Collins has said in the past was not a major concern. Two senior fundraising officials left GW in the spring of 2015. Mike Morsberger, the former head of the fundraising office, resigned abruptly in the fall of 2014. University President Steven Knapp tapped Collins, the former vice president and secretary of the University, to lead the campaign last February.

Erika Bernal, the director of development and alumni relations at Marshall B. Ketchum University, said universities will grow their fundraising staffs as they prepare to launch mega campaigns, but hiring will fizzle out as the campaign continues.

“Universities don’t have unlimited resources. They need to put a cap on needs,” Bernal said. “They’re not just going to continue to grow over time.”

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