Tuck sets third alumni giving record in five years

by Sasha Dudding | 7/22/13 10:00pm

With over 70 percent of alumni donating for the third consecutive year, Tuck has the nation's highest participation rate.
by Cirrus Foroughi / The Dartmouth

The $6.3 million raised in the 2013 fiscal year was an increase from the school's previous record of $5.8 million in 2008 and the $5.7 million raised in 2012. Tuck's alumni participation rate is the highest in the nation, exceeding 70 percent for the third year in a row.

The Yale School of Management had the second-highest participation rate at just over 44 percent and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business ranked third at 42 percent. These schools are also outliers, however, as many top business schools face participation rates of approximately 20 percent.

"When the participation rate is so much higher than our peer schools, there must be something we're doing differently," said John Torget Tu'00, director of development and annual giving. "When students come to Tuck, they're all in."

Tuck received donations from 6,332 of the school's approximately 9,000 living alumni, from newly minted graduates to the Class of 1934.

Equating Tuck students' experiences to those of Dartmouth undergraduates', Torget said the school's small size and remote location create a distinct philosophy and a loyal alumni network.

Suni Harford Tu'88, an MBA advisory board member, said that Tuck alumni have stronger connections to their classmates than those from other business schools.

The Tuck Annual Giving campaign capitalizes on this close alumni network, using over 500 alumni volunteers to solicit money from their former classmates.

"At Tuck, you knew every single person in your class," Harford said. "There wouldn't be anybody in the class that could call that I wouldn't know."

Benjamin Flaim Tu'07, a Tuck Annual Giving executive board member, said a sense of school pride is pervasive throughout a student's experience.

"You learn that people who came before you care very deeply about the school, so it would be odd if you didn't," he said. "From the first day you set foot in school, you feel that connection to the past, so it makes you more likely to give in the future."

Flaim, who serves as vice chair of the corporate competition, said the campaign works to achieve 100 percent participation rates at companies where there are five or more alumni. He added that the campaign's success comes from its emphasis on participation over the size of donations.

The median and mean donation sizes are around $200 and $975, though there is a large range overall, Torget said. Although these numbers are below those of the Dartmouth College Fund, Tuck's participation rate has historically been higher than the College's, which hit 44.2 percent in 2012.

Andrew Steele Tu'79, Tuck's executive director of development and alumni services, said that because the funds raised through Tuck Annual Giving are unrestricted, they increase flexibility in the budget.

"It's a nice little bit to have to help wherever it's needed, whether it's the electric bill or scholarships or starting something new," he said.

Torget said he hopes extra funding can be used to help align Tuck's priorities with those of the business world, such as global and leadership programs.

Harford said that, as an MBA Advisory Board member, she was asked where she would like to see the extra funding allocated. Noting that almost 80 percent of students receive financial aid, she said she hopes scholarship funding will be increased.

As the next fiscal year begins, staff and alumni say they hope Tuck's success will continue. The participation rate will rise again if this year's donors keep giving, lapsed donors are reconnected with the school and new graduates join their older peers in giving, Steele said.

Harford said she was not surprised by Tuck's repeated success, and added that all of the alumni she knows have come to view participating in Tuck Annual Giving as the norm, regardless of how much they are able to give. When volunteers from each class begin their calls, alumni are receptive when they pick up the phone.

"We all know and expect it," she said. "It's a business school, so we all know money makes a difference."