September 20, 2005

Alumni Donations Increase for JGSM

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In an unexpected rise in alumni giving, the Johnson School Annual Fund raised $1.5 million in donations last year. Contributions to the fund increased by 15 percent, a result of the jump in donor participation from 24 to 26 percent. The increase has been attributed to the improved peer-to-peer solicitation program.

This year’s growth follows a spike in the 2003-2004 fundraiser, which raised $1.48 million after setting the goal of $1.2 million, a 47 percent from the year before. The goal for this year was $1.3 million.

According to a press release, Marybeth Tarzian, director of the Johnson Annual Fund, said the donations are “essential to the success of the school in attracting corporate donations as well as bringing us in line with our peer schools.”

The peer-to-peer method for fundraising was newly implemented during the fiscal year 2003-2004. Led by Tarzian, the Annual Fund became a fully staffed program with a director in place. Before this time, there was no one specifically in charge of the Fund.

“We did additional things like video emails,” said Shelia Reakes, acting director of the annual fund. “At the end of the calendar year 2004 fiscal year 2005, we sent an email to all alumni. It was an informational video about the Johnson school. This saw an increase in online giving.”

Another form of fund collection comes in the form of “reunion committees.” According to Reakes, these are committees of Johnson School volunteers who have a reunion year coming up and are looking to raise money in honor of their graduating class.

“This was new when Marybeth came,” Reakes said of the committees, “she instituted the program. It had been done in the past but not to this consistency.”

According to the Johnson School website, annual gifts to the school underwrite more than ten percent of the operating budget.

The Johnson Annual Fund collects money, with donors having no say in its allocation. “The alumni give donations knowing that they don’t have a say in where the money goes. That’s what they want when they give their gift.” This type of donation is the most preferred type to the school, Reakes said, because this way the school can use the money in the way that is most needed at the current point in time.

The Johnson School also saw an increase in their rankings last year moving up to number seven for graduate business schools in Business Week, and number nine in Forbes magazine.

When asked if the increase in rankings had a direct impact on the increase in donations, Reakes replied that, “we definitely play up the rankings in correspondences with alumni. We don’t just ask for money, we deliver information to alumni, news related.”

Another aspect of the Alumni Fund comes from the “Deans Leadership Committee.” According to Reakes, this committee is much like the reunion committees and asks alumni for donations of $5000 or more without being in a year of reunion.

In attributing the success of the Annual Fund, Reakes pointed to the tireless work of alumni.

“One of the important things we want to stress when we talk about the Annual Fund is how important alumni are,” she said. “We really rely on alumni to volunteer. Between the Deans leadership committee, the Reunion committee, the advisory council … and alumni who come back to speak in classes to recruit students, we really are fortunate to have really fabulous alumni in the Johnson School. They donate not just their money but also their time.”

Archived article by Emily Gordon
Sun Staff Writer