Fifty dollars, times two, tipped the scales.
In a drive to boost alumni donor participation, these two gifts pushed the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business past the $2 million mark. Recently the school’s dean, Tom Gilligan, announced that 6,300 alumni supporters had rallied to increase the McCombs alumni giving rate to 8.1 percent.
The Our Turn campaign began in 2011 after Gilligan noticed that other top-tier business schools had more than twice as many alumni contributing to their alma maters as did McCombs. (The fundraising effort has continued on Rally.org, founded by McCombs alumnus Tom Serres.) Personal appeals from professors and on social media—complete with #HookEm and #RallyforMcCombs hashtags—along with alumni chapter events across the country and football tailgate parties helped attract donations to the school.
According to the office of alumni relations and annual giving at McCombs, fundraising efforts like Our Turn are designed to strengthen the school’s network through smaller donations, not necessarily the five-, six-or seven-digit checks that generate lots of publicity. As noted in McCombs Today, the alumni magazine, “Year-after-year gifts enable individual programs to endure, impacting lives and careers for generations.”
Perhaps not as glamorous as getting a building, hallway, or atrium named after you, but pitching in with a small donation has boosted McCombs’s ranking among undergraduate business programs and fostered startup thinking among grad students via the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition. We also love how students are approaching their subject matter in innovative ways, such as using data for trend-forecasting in the world of entertainment.
McCombs is aiming even higher for its next donor goal: The school hopes to reach a 10 percent alumni participation rate for 2014.