students standing in a group holding signs that say 'thank you' with George Washington and GW mascot

Philanthropy & Constituent Engagement



GW will work to strengthen its engagement of its permanent constituency, its alumni, while expanding its network of families and friends. Through this network, the Division of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) will support the mission and initiatives of GW and provide positive ambassadors of the GW brand around the world.




  • Goal 1: Introduce new university leadership to the alumni, parent and friend communities around the world to bolster GW pride and encourage an ongoing culture of philanthropy and engagement.


  • Goal 2: Develop a fundraising model that balances both the short-term and long-term goals of GW while demonstrating accountability with respect to investment and return.


  • Goal 3: Establish a best-in-class engagement and fundraising operation supported by effective and efficient structures, policies, protocols and processes that best serve the alumni, parent and friend communities.



Initiative Accomplishments


In fiscal 2018, GW surpassed its fundraising goal and raised more than $115 million, thanks to the generous contributions of more than 22,000 donors. These alumni, families, faculty, staff, students, corporations, foundations and friends are enabling the next generation of Colonials to accept unpaid internships, study abroad and take advantage of hundreds of other only-at-GW opportunities. Philanthropy provides classrooms, technology and equipment that support cross-disciplinary teaching and research through new facilities and programs designed to emphasize collaboration in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and liberal arts fields. These are only a few examples of the daily and long-term investments donors make in GW.

  • GW and the Cotsen 1985 Trust Finalize $18.4 Million Gift to the GW Museum and The Textile Museum
    The gift comprises more than 4,000 textiles, an endowment for scholarship and educational programs and state-of-the-art equipment to support the textile collections assembled by the late Lloyd Cotsen, former trustee of The Textile Museum and CEO of Neutrogena Corporation. The fact that the collections will be housed at a major research university committed to scholarship and publication and will be accessible to students and academics were key factors in the trust selecting GW as the recipient of this gift.

  • Build-out of DAR Executive Leadership Team Continues
    Lori Cwalina, who led fundraising efforts for the past four years in the Elliott School of International Affairs, is the new senior associate vice president for schools and units. All schools with the exception of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Milken Institute School of Public Health will report to Lori in her new capacity. Additionally, Katie Turcotte was named assistant vice president, development strategy. In this role, which is part of DAR’s Executive Leadership Council, Katie will provide strategic leadership and executive staffing as the university looks ahead to its next philanthropic campaign.

  • GW Health Workforce Institute Receives $18 Million from The Atlantic Philanthropies to Expand Fellowship Program, Operation
    The institute’s Leaders for Health Equity Fellowship program, based at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, has joined the global community of Atlantic Fellows and is now known as the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity. The program focuses on the fundamentals of health equity and proven strategies to reduce health disparities.

  • Nearly $13 Million Raised to Support Power & Promise Student Aid
    Five students representing six schools share their personal stories, which collectively illustrate the arc and totality of the GW student experience. Their reflections highlight the many areas in which philanthropy makes a difference in the lives of students.

  • Alumnus Leverages Matching Program to Donate More Than $100,000 to GW Over 30 Years
    Orville Standifer, B.S. ’67
    , went to GW on a full scholarship and now gives back to the School of Engineering and Applied Science so other students can have similar experiences.

  • Class of 2018 Continues Legacy of Giving
    Among the class of 2018, 50 percent of students gave back to the university and a record 16 percent made sustaining gifts. The class of 2018 surpassed the class of 2017’s dollar total and percentage of the class making a recurring gift.


The GW community is a worldwide network of Colonials committed to demonstrating and celebrating GW pride. To facilitate this, the university regularly hosts events in D.C. and around the world, where alumni and families can network, enjoy cultural and sporting events and form new relationships personally and professionally. The university is also committed to celebrating the many successes of its alumni and donors and seeks opportunities to share those stories in various outlets.

Leadership Introductions Continue

  • Members of the GW community, including donors, parents and alumni, attended community receptions in Chicago in October and Atlanta in November. This brings the total in the series of “rollout” events with Dr. LeBlanc to seven. During his first academic year as president, Dr. LeBlanc met and shared his vision with members of the university community in Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and New York.

  • New GW leaders, including School of Business Dean Anuj Mehrotra and Director of Athletics and Recreation Tanya Vogel, have actively engaged constituents at events with donors and alumni. Ms. Vogel and men’s basketball head coach Maurice Joseph will attend and speak at “Raise High Tailgate” events during the 2018-19 men’s basketball season, in collaboration with GW’s regional alumni networks.


Constituent Engagement Efforts Remain Strong

  • Approximately 3,600 members of the extended GW community of alumni, families and current students participated in Colonials Weekend in October, an increase of 900 people compared with 2017. The weekend kicked off with an Alumni Awards ceremony recognizing the achievements and service of nine graduates and continued with more than 50 events. Highlights included the kickoff party, a conversation between Dr. LeBlanc and Student Association President Ashley Le, F Street Open House, Taste of GW, Vern Harvest, Jazz Brunch and Political Discourse.

  • To encourage an ongoing culture of philanthropy and engagement, the university announced the launch of a new alumni association housed under the Office of Alumni Relations. This new, fully integrated volunteer-led alumni association will work to advance GW by building a strong community of alumni, both current and future, through programs, services and communications and by providing alumni with positive, lifelong and meaningful engagement and volunteer opportunities wherever they may live and work. The Board of Trustees Volunteer Engagement Task Force will be responsible for the creation of the structure for the new alumni association.

  • This fall, Alumni Relations held panel discussions on the 2018 midterm elections in six cities across the country. These programs brought together the GW community—alumni, current and prospective students and parents.


  • With the start of the new academic year, staff across the division are working together to build and advance relationships with new and returning GW families. This includes reaching out to learn about their students’ experiences on campus and identifying times during the year to engage families.


  • DAR’s Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations launched a new web resource, which will provide faculty and staff with information, guides and tools for accessing corporate and foundation funding to support research and programs.


Strengthening Donor Stewardship Events

  • GW has increased efforts to cultivate its most valuable donors and prospects. This includes leveraging on-campus opportunities, such as author events in collaboration with Politics and Prose bookstore and special donor-hosted events for GW Society and other VIP donors and prospects, with the goal of enhancing stewardship by providing special and exclusive opportunities for these audiences. Recent events include:

    • Dinner in New York followed by a performance of “American Son,” a new Broadway play featuring Kerry Washington, B.A. ’98.

    • Pre-receptions for Politics and Prose events at Lisner Auditorium with chef José Andrés and former White House photographer Pete Souza on their new books.

    • Tickets and books offered to donors by gift officers to hear Bob Woodward speak on his recent book, “Fear,” at Lisner Auditorium.

  • In collaboration with GW Athletics, DAR hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration in honor of the opening and dedication of a new clubhouse for GW baseball at Barcroft Park. The new clubhouse became a reality because of gifts from donors, including GW parents Dave and Tam Fassnacht, for whom the clubhouse is named, and Ave Tucker, B.B.A. ’77, a former GW baseball student-athlete and member of the Board of Trustees.

  • In June 2018, GW celebrated the induction of Mark Shenkman, M.B.A. '67, into the Fixed Income Analysts Society, Inc., Hall of Fame at a gala event in New York. As a distinguished alumnus, former trustee and generous donor, Mr. Shenkman inspires GW students to reach new heights, and university representatives and guests were pleased to be present to celebrate his achievements and express the university community’s appreciation for all he does in support of GW.



To support GW’s lifelong and worldwide constituents, DAR seeks ways to better integrate the student and alumni experience and promote “One GW.” Recently, DAR worked with the Enrollment and the Student Experience unit to unveil a new Admissions & Alumni Welcome Center and with External Relations to give the central DAR office suite a facelift with new photos of campus life. DAR also helps highlight some of GW’s most prominent alumni in various buildings across campus.

These enhancements are driven by a constituent-centric approach to DAR’s work and a desire to spotlight GW’s students, alumni and donors.

  • Tracking Fundraising Performance
    DAR implemented a fully integrated, cross-operational set of metrics across the division to consistently and accurately track fundraising performance. These metrics have been shared with partners across campus to increase transparency.

  • Meet the DAR Executive Leadership Team
    Donna Arbide has reorganized the DAR Executive Leadership group, welcoming Ellen Beck as the new assistant vice president for GW's Milken Institute School of Public Health and Maryam Henson to the newly created position of associate vice president for central initiatives.

  • Keeping Constituents’ Data Safe
    The university has instituted data security measures, including use of a lockbox system, following industry best practices around payment security and continuously monitoring systems and improving business processes to demonstrate a commitment to handling all gifts with utmost care.

  • New Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Named
    Donna Arbide, who has more than 30 years of experience in the field, joined GW in March 2018.




Initiative Sponsor

Vice President of Alumni & Development Donna Arbide

"Although I am new to GW, I have already been so impressed by the university’s lifelong and worldwide community of more than 280,000 alumni. I came here to help create a best-in-class Division of Development and Alumni Relations, and we will be working hard over the next few years to strengthen our engagement with alumni as well as enhance our development efforts to continue to support the success and growth of this historic institution."

Donna ArbideVice President for Development and Alumni Relations

Get in Touch

If you have a story of progress or suggestion related to this initiative, please submit it below. Your feedback is shared directly with the team charged with managing this initiative's progress. We look forward to hearing from you. 


GW Affiliation *