Participation in annual day of philanthropy highlights university service efforts.
By James Irwin
For the second year in a row, the George Washington University will participate in #GivingTuesday, a post-Thanksgiving global day of service and philanthropy that follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Launched in 2012 by the United Nations Foundation and 92Y, #GivingTuesday mobilizes communities to support nonprofit organizations and charities worldwide. Nearly 300 GW alumni, parent, student, faculty and staff donors contributed more than $60,000 to academics, scholarships and university programs as part of #GivingTuesday last year.
“Being able to participate in an event like this helps spread the word about how important it is to give back to your community,” said Kerry Jordan, M.S. ’96. “It also helps raise awareness of GW and all the amazing things that are going on in terms of research and education and community engagement.”
GW participation this year will highlight and raise awareness of the university’s service efforts in communities around the world. Emails and messages on social media—from the university, alumni and student volunteers, like Ms. Jordan—will inform people how they can support service initiatives throughout the university while also providing facts about GW's emphasis on civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and volunteer work.
“We want to highlight the great projects that take place across campus and how civic engagement is not just an extracurricular [activity] but an active part of the university and classroom experience,” said Cynthia Figueroa, B.B.A. '12, assistant director in the Office of Annual Giving. “One of the unique aspects of GW is the enthusiasm that students have for making an impact in the local and international community.”
GW logged more than 403,000 volunteer hours during the 2013-14 academic year and more than 171,000 of those hours came through 67 academic service-learning classes within the university’s 10 colleges and schools. Another large batch of annual hours comes from alternative break volunteer trips GW students make to communities in the United States and abroad every winter and spring. More than one-quarter of the university’s 345 student organizations (not including the 53 located in Greek Life) identify “advocacy and awareness” or “civic engagement” as their primary focus. GW student-athletes have contributed more than 16,000 hours of service the past two years.
Donations, Ms. Figueroa said, play a key role in GW’s civic efforts. Gifts to Alternative Breaks, for example, help cover transportation, lodging and food costs for volunteers.
“These great service opportunities are made possible, in part, by the philanthropy of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends of the university,” she said.
Giving to service-oriented programs, Ms. Jordan added, strengthens a key area that makes GW unique.
“The proximity of GW to the White House has always been a real beacon for me in terms of how to be involved in the community as well as our country,” Ms. Jordan said. “I think [#GivingTuesday is] such an important part of engaging alumni. It won’t take a lot of their time but it will have a substantial payoff for them personally, as well as for the university.”