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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Record number of near-graduates give back, but fundraising total falls behind

Slightly more than half of the Class of 2013 donated back to the University this year – a record total – though the amount fundraised lagged several thousand dollars behind last year’s graduating class.

The 52.3 percent giving rate, announced Thursday at a champagne toast with seniors and top GW officials in University Yard, continues a recent momentum as the University tries to coax graduates to donate – efforts that had previously flagged.

A donation-matching challenge first issued last year by trustee and alumnus Nelson Carbonell, who presented a $51,000 check at the event, has helped lift the senior class gift participation rate from 43 percent two years ago to half the class last year. This year, Carbonell tasked the senior class with surpassing a 51 percent giving rate.

Still, University President Steven Knapp said the senior class gift committee raised $86,942 by Thursday – about $5,000 short of last year’s total. The campaign encourages students to donate to any University entity, from student groups to academic departments, in the hopes that students will be more likely to donate to something that has shaped their college experience.

Getting new alumni to give is a big part of GW’s strategy to boost fundraising, as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger has said that once someone donates, he or she is more likely to give again. GW’s alumni giving rate has historically fallen behind its peer schools’, which has handcuffed its financial flexibility.

Carbonell, who will likely be approved Friday as the new Board of Trustees chair, said Thursday that next year’s goal will be 53 percent, continuing to incrementally increase the target.

His $51,00 donation will go to the University’s need-based aid program, the Power and Promise Fund. Carbonell, who graduated from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1985 on a full scholarship, said he wants to make sure his gift will help others like him.

“Like many students at GW, my opportunity to come here only came through a scholarship. Our ongoing support of that is the only way to pay back those in the past who saw a way to provide scholarships for students here,” Carbonell said.

The 1,222 senior donors, he added, would help “motivate others in our community to strengthen the culture of philanthropy.”

Senior class gift coordinator Christopher Kim, a senior, said the committee needed the final week to reach its goal, finally topping 51 percent Wednesday at Senior Night. The 40 additional seniors needed to reach the threshold donated by midnight.

Kim added the committee does not yet know the breakdown of which programs will receive the funds.

The senior class gift coordinators also focused planting the seeds for future fundraising at GW. Senior class gift coordinator Julia Simon said about 245 seniors joined the Luther Rice Society, in which members pledge to donate for the next five years.

“You gave back to your schools, your student orgs, your athletics teams, to scholarships, to Gelman Library and everything in between. We encourage you to keep giving back to GW,” Simon said.

Simon said she also donated to the Power and Promise Fund, because without her financial aid, she wouldn’t be at GW.

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