Graduating Class Sets New Standard With 100% Participation in Class Gift
The Class of 2009 has set an unbeatable record for this yearís Class Gift. All 173 graduating students found a way to give back to the school. The 100% participation rate tops the previous high of 81% by the Class of 2005. A total $193,335 was pledged.
"I think we did it for the school, but we also did it for each other," said Matt Kopac, student government president and one of the leaders of the giving effort. "At SOM you form a tight bond with fellow students, and our class was no exception. It is meaningful particularly in such tough economic times that weíve recognized the importance of this experience."
Kopac credited the success of their effort to the unity and enthusiasm of the Class of 2009 as well as the expertise of the alumni relations office and faculty. But the campaignís strategy and its effective execution ultimately came from a student leadership team collaborating to put into practice what they have learned in classes over the last two years. The other students leading the drive were Betsy Sykes, David Mizrahi, Teddy DeWitt, Dave Bledin, Eric Shakun, and Sarah Pickard.
Mark Richter, director of annual and special giving, said, "Reaching one hundred percent participation is always a challenging task, but especially so in this difficult economic climate. However, the enthusiasm and dedication that the students demonstrated toward SOM truly shows the very positive feelings that the students have about the school."
Kopac said, "We understood economic conditions, but we also knew how important it is for future giving to have people give at this time, so we decided that the best approach was to shoot for high participation instead of a dollar amount."
Momentum was established through a combination of class-wide community building events and one-on-one conversations with every student in which the present and future impact of giving for the school was explained. Added to that, an online form facilitated the process of making a donation.
As each pledge came in, a picture of the donor was posted on a board in the Hall of Mirrors. Pickard explained, "As the board filled up it showed whether we were at 20%, 60%, or 80%. Using peopleís faces created a nice mosaic effect of the class filling in." She added, "Iíve heard it said that people are more aware of need in a recession than they are in a boom time and really think about what they can do to help. People really thought about whether they could give $500 over the next four years or $10 today, and that meant we didnít miss anyone." The largest gift was $6009. The average pledge was $1,117; the median pledge was $1,000.
Sykes said, "The class gift is important because it is an investment in the future of SOM and a sign of our class' interest in keeping SOM as strong tomorrow as it is today."
The campaignís leaders hope that they have established a new tradition. Kopac said, "We would like this to be a challenge to future classes."
The participation rate of the 2009 Yale MBA for Executives Leadership in Healthcare program is currently at 85% and climbing.