Gaby Fabre tries to personalize the letters she writes to alumni.
She tells them she is studying environmental science and organizational sciences and communication, and that her goal is to be a sustainability consultant. She writes that she loves attending the George Washington University.
And she thanks them for supporting GW, for donating and volunteering at their alma mater.
“I think if you share a little bit about your story—and if you thank people for the things at GW that wouldn’t be here without them—that makes a huge difference,” said Gaby, a junior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
“Alumni are so excited to learn about GW students, to hear about campus and the traditions. Connecting with alumni helps connect the whole community at GW. It brings us together.”
Gaby and her classmates were forming those connections April 12 at GW Flag Day, an annual event recognizing those who give back to the university. Students and alumni unlocked challenge gifts through their own donations and nearly 1,500 members of the university community wrote notes to donors in recognition of their support to GW.
“We sometimes underestimate the influence and impact that alumni have,” said Gaby, co-leader of the Colonial Ambassadors. “They are giving back to the school because they love it, and they want us to experience the great things they experienced.”
Events and decorations around campus reinforced that point Tuesday. GW used blue-and-white Commander-in-Chief flags—adopted by the university as a symbol of Making History: The Campaign for GW—to mark campus locations where philanthropy has made a difference. On Kogan Plaza, students took a few minutes to pen thank you cards to donors.
More than 12,000 alumni made a gift to GW this fiscal year leading up to GW Flag Day, triggering a $100,000 donation from Elliott School alumnus Michael Hope, BA ’79, in support of the Power & Promise fund for student aid.
“GW Flag Day is a wonderful new tradition to help spread the word about how philanthropy enhances the GW experience,” said Aristide J. Collins Jr., GW’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “This year, thanks to Michael Hope, we were able to hold an alumni donor challenge with Flag Day as its culmination. We are grateful to Mr. Hope and all our alumni donors and look forward to mailing them the hundreds of thank you notes written by students.”
Across campus Tuesday, at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Dean Reuben E. Brigety II and Juman Kekhia, ESIA ’16, this year’s senior class gift campaign coordinator, facilitated a discussion on the impact of philanthropy at the university. Throughout the day, more than 500 students made their own donations to GW, unlocking a $12,000 gift from a group of GW parents in support of student life.
“Philanthropy matters, and we saw that on GW Flag Day through the current GW students who made a commitment to their fellow Colonials,” said Peter Konwerski, vice provost and dean of student affairs. “Their generosity unlocked a challenge gift that will allow student affairs to continue doing exciting programming to build community at the university.”
The importance of philanthropy
Support during Making History has come in many forms. More than 57,000 supporters—some 36,000 of them alumni—have donated nearly $850 million during the campaign to support students, enhance academics and break new ground.
GW Flag Day was a day to recognize the importance of philanthropy to the university community, said Joe Savino, a senior in the Elliott School.
“There is so much that happens here at GW that tuition doesn’t cover, and I feel that there is almost no way that I can’t give back because of all the experiences that I’ve had,” he said. “When you really throw yourself into the GW life as a true Colonial you really do get that feeling.”
Visit campaign.gwu.edu to learn how you can join the thousands of Colonials and friends who support GW each year. Check out some of the GW community’s responses to GW Flag Day on social media below: