Thanks to Mason Nation, 2018 Looks Bright for Philanthropy

It takes the efforts of every member of Mason Nation, all of us pulling together, to make George Mason University the best it can be. Thanks to gifts from more than 13,000 donors over the past 12 months, philanthropy made a huge difference at Mason in 2017.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, the George Mason University Foundation recorded gifts and pledges totaling $62.3 million. (All figures are preliminary and not yet audited.) That amount, while below the record of 2016, made this the third-highest fundraising year in Mason’s history: a powerful testament to the strength and ongoing progress of the Faster Farther campaign.

Alumni giving played a larger role than ever in Mason’s success, as total commitments from alumni (gifts and pledges) virtually doubled, from $2.55 million to $4.9 million. The overall number of alumni donors (giving or pledged) also rose steadily, reaching 6,932—a 30% increase. With the Faster Farther campaign continuing through December 2018, there is still ample time and opportunity for alumni of every age and era to make their mark.

One noteworthy sign this year was a substantial increase in giving from Mason faculty and staff, with the number donating nearly doubling from 377 to 714. A new initiative, Giving Day, played a major role in that increase, as the call to show your Mason spirit resonated strongly with those who know the institution best. Held April 6, Giving Day represented a new way for the entire university community—alumni, friends, students, faculty, and staff—to support Mason. Over a single 24-hour period, more than 1,200 donors contributed a total of $188,724, most through small gifts, to support a wide range of causes, from scholarships and the arts to academic initiatives and athletics.

All of this generosity led to some exciting highlights and great impact across our campuses. To recall just a few:

  • In November, the university named two buildings after its famed Nobel Prize-winning economists—Vernon L. Smith and the late James M. Buchanan. That move coincided with the launch of the Buchanan-Smith Legacy Campaign for the Future of Masonomics by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The campaign’s goal is to advance the economics department among the world’s best by raising $15 million as part of Faster Farther.
  • In February, the members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a group of retired adults united by their love of learning, reached a milestone, as their total contributions to worthy causes at Mason surpassed a quarter-million dollars over the past two decades. Impressive!
  • At our commencement ceremony in May, Mason for the first time honored outstanding faculty with medals and a monetary prize recognizing their achievements. Each medal is named for a Mason supporter whose generosity has endowed these annual awards.
    • The John Toups Medal for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Jill Nelson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Volgenau School of Engineering.
    • The Karen and Hector Alcalde Medal for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion was awarded to Kevin Clark, director of the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity, and to Wendi Manuel-Scott, director of African and African American Studies.
    • The Earle C. Williams Medal for Excellence in Social Impact was awarded to Cynthia Lum, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and to Michael W. Nickens, associate professor in the School of Music.
    • The Beck Family Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship was awarded to Lance Liotta, co-director of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine.

As we look to 2018, we will be celebrating the Golden Anniversary of our alumni association—representing 50 years since Mason’s first graduating class, the class of ’68. From fledgling school to top-tier research university, Mason has come so far in that time. With the continued assistance of 13,000 generous supporters (and counting), 2018 looks bright indeed.

August 16, 2017 / RR