Despite weak fund-raising across the University this year, the School of Management has reported an increase in contributions to its Alumni Fund.
Donations to SOM’s Alumni Fund rose 11 percent this year over last, totaling more than $1.5 million for the 2008-’09 fiscal year. School officials credited the increase to the loyalty of SOM alumni and administrators’ efforts to reach out to them.
“Our alumni have always been generous to the school and have consistently risen to the occasion of our increased needs,” Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Joel Getz said in an e-mail. “Dean Sharon Oster has spent significant time on fundraising, and her personal appeals to our alumni have been very effective.”
The Alumni Fund is one of several pools — others include the school’s capital campaign — to which donors can give. Donations to the Alumni Fund are spent directly, and donors can specify whether they want their gifts to go toward financial aid, curriculum development, faculty research, student loan forgiveness or the dean’s discretionary fund.
About half of SOM graduates usually give to the fund, Getz said. Over the past five years, that rate has varied from 44 percent to 49 percent, Getz said, which makes it the highest alumni contribution rate of any school at Yale. It is also the second-highest participation rate for alumni fund giving among business schools nationwide, he added.
All members of the class of 2009 pledged to contribute to the Alumni Fund when they graduated, said Susan Lennon SOM ’85, who chaired the Alumni Fund until June.
The 2008-’09 fiscal year marks at least the fourth straight year that donations to the Alumni Fund have risen. Contributions to the fund have increased dramatically since the 2004-’05 fiscal year, when donations stood at about $770,000.
On the other hand, fundraising for the school’s $300 million capital campaign — which, among other things, will fund construction of the school’s 246,000-square-foot campus — has largely stalled. The fund took in just over $7 million this year, bringing the fund’s holdings to $182 million. For fiscal year 2007-’08, the capital campaign brought in $19 million. Getz said he was optimistic that donations to the capital campaign will pick up again — which they must if the campus is to open by spring 2013, the current projected completion date.
“We started a number of new conversations that we hope will be fruitful,” Getz said. “These new conversations may take longer to mature than similar conversations in better economic cycles, but we are confident of our future successes.”
But SOM’s concerns about the capital campaign have not affected Alumni Fund giving. Alumni Fund class agent Fi Cheng SOM ’05 said the recession has had little impact on giving to the Alumni Fund in her alumni class.
“There were two or three people who had lost their jobs and had written back to us saying they couldn’t honor their pledges,” Cheng said. “But we have 82 percent participation in a class of 233.”
Class agent Dawn Alexander SOM ’87 said Oster’s decision to donate $100,000 of her salary to an internship fund, announced in January, also spurred alumni donations.
The average Alumni Fund gift size for this year was $635, Getz said.