GW’s volunteer base fell by about 14.6 percent during fiscal year 2019 following a five-year decline from 2012 to 2017.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said 2,647 alumni worked as volunteers for GW during fiscal year 2019 – which spanned from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 – the second-lowest number of volunteers in at least a decade. The downturn comes amid efforts from officials to keep alumni engaged with the University through a program connecting students to graduates, a virtual book club and a revamped combined parents and alumni weekend.
The drop comes after the number of alumni volunteers jumped to 3,100 in fiscal year 2018 – a more than 40 percent annual increase – marking the first increase in the number of volunteers in about six years, according to tax documents. Between fiscal years 2012 and 2017, the number of alumni volunteers dropped by nearly 70 percent.
Nosal said leaders in the Office of Alumni Relations dedicated “more resources” to volunteer engagement in fiscal year 2018, which resulted in more effective volunteer recruitment and tracking that year.
Nosal said office staff are focused primarily on engaging alumni volunteers but added that the volunteer figures officials track also include some parents. The figures include both volunteers who help out for shorter one-day events and those who serve long-term, like on committees or councils.
“Alumni volunteerism is important to GW because connecting alumni to their alma mater and to one another make the University stronger,” she said in an email. “Volunteering provides a connection back to GW, its students and its alumni, which in turn strengthens the network and contributes to a culture of philanthropy.”
After he arrived at GW, University President Thomas LeBlanc named philanthropy and constituent engagement one of his five strategic initiatives to focus on as president. The Board of Trustees assembled a task force in September 2017 to focus on fundraising efforts and volunteer engagement.