GW’s total fundraising totals have stabilized after falling by millions of dollars from a recent peak in fiscal year 2019.
Fundraising totals fell by 17 percent between fiscal years 2019 and 2020 – a downturn that fell well below the national average of 0.2 percent that year – but rose slightly in the last fiscal year. Experts in fundraising in higher education said GW’s upcoming change of leadership could be an opportunity for administrators to push for increased donations.
The fundraising value amounted to $ 122.6 million in fiscal year 2019 and $ 102.5 million in fiscal year 2020. The data showed that the total fundraising at GW had a slight increase to $ 105 million in fiscal year 2021, which ended June 30 and included almost the first five months of the two-year celebration.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said the average alumni gift amount has increased by 30 percent since fiscal year 2019, and officials have seen an increase in holdings among faculty, staff and alumni donors.
She added that in the 2020 fiscal year ending June 1, 2020, officials launched GW Cares, a 90-day fundraising initiative that created two new emergency aids for students and health care professionals.
“We limited fundraising efforts beyond this initiative to be sensitive to our community,” Nosal said.
Higher education institutions nationwide have recently faced difficulties in meeting revenue and fundraising goals. Officials worked to close a $ 180 million budget gap in fiscal year 2021, leading to extensive financial mitigation measures.
Nosal said the university received the largest single alumni donation in GW’s history for $ 22 million in October, and officials raised nearly $ 30 million for scholarship programs in fiscal year 2021, the second-highest year ever to raise money for scholarships.
“As GW enters its third century, we are excited about new initiatives planned to generate increased support for scholarships, and we hope to be able to share more details about these plans this fall,” Nosal said.
The university’s most recent major fundraising campaign ended in 2017, raising nearly $ 1 billion under former university president Steven Knapp.
Recent fundraising totals have been thrown against the backdrop of a university that has faced the effects of the pandemic and conflicts between administrators and members of society.
Amid faculty dissatisfaction, University President Thomas LeBlanc announced in May that he would retire. Chairman Grace Speights announced at a faculty senate meeting last week that LeBlanc would leave his office in January, and Mark S. Wrighton, the former chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, Louis, would take over as interim president on Jan. 1.
Higher education experts said a turnover in the university’s management could help increase fundraising revenue if the new president can develop a detailed strategic plan outlining their specific fundraising goals.
Sandy Baum — a non-resident senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a DC-based think tank and a former research professor of higher education funding at GW — said that administrators at higher education institutions are likely to be to blame when total fundraising falls below the industry average.
“If it was a good year for most universities and your university was not able to raise money, then people would say, ‘What’s going on? How did it happen? Who is to blame? Said Baum. “But in the year when no one succeeds in fundraising, people will not blame the administration for not succeeding in fundraising.”
Baum said a new university president could help revive fundraising efforts if the number has dropped or if society is dissatisfied with current economic leadership. She said the president should formulate a new strategic plan for fundraising and community outreach at the start of their time in the position of setting up the university for success.
“It would definitely be a positive thing, especially to get out of something problematic that you are,” she said.
Scott Rembold, vice president of university progress at the Catholic University of America and an alumnus of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, said that loyal donors are often more attached to an institution than to a leader, so their commitment and desire to donate will often not dramatically change after a change of leadership.
Rembold said donors are gathering around new leadership, meaning a new university president could revive public fundraising after a period of instability. He said the president and other senior administrators should lay a “bold vision” for the GW community.
“Ensuring that your academic programs are truly competitive and robust is critical because the position, prestige and reputation of the academic reputation in the industry is truly important,” Rembold said.
In April, various student aid and scholarship fundraising projects at GW accounted for the top six annual Giving Day initiatives with the largest revenues, earning nearly half of the $ 1 million raised, according to data from the online donation site.
Rembold said university leaders will often take a few years to invest in school infrastructure, facilities and larger projects after a major fundraising, e.g. The $ 1 billion campaign that ended in 2017.
“These campaigns are really a kind of organizing principles – they stem from the vision of management and the vision of the board,” Rembold said.
Noah Drezner, a professor of higher education at Columbia University, said officials could see a slight drop in donations after a new university president took office because people who were happy with the previous management might want to reconsider their donor, but it would likely to rebound once administrators have laid out a new strategic fundraising plan.
“Once the new president is announced, there is excitement around their vision,” Drezner said. “Often it comes to giving back just like that.”
Drezner also said administrators will generally wait until a major change of leadership transition passes before announcing a new fundraising campaign, such as Bicentennial Weekend -driven. He said he believes GW’s two-year fundraising campaign will be a success as donors and alumni celebrate such a historic marker in GW’s history.
“It’s something big to celebrate, 200 years with an institution, so there will be speed there,” Drezner said. “So I suppose that campaign is going to be very successful and you reach your goal no matter what number there will be that will be announced.”