MUMBAI: Alumni donations in Indian business schools may be only a fraction of those received by global counterparts Wharton, Yale and Harvard, but they are picking up. The Indian Institutes of Management in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Kozhikode are getting increasingly active in tapping former students to help fund academic pursuits, infrastructure and overall progress.
Earlier this month, IIM-Ahmedabad raised Rs 7.5 crore from alumni Vishwavir Ahuja, managing director of RBL Bank, and Aprameya R and Raghunandan G, cofounders of TaxiForSure, to support infrastructure funding. With this, the institute has secured Rs 200 crore of commitments from alumni and companies in the three years since it set up a development office in 2014.
“Alumni response has been overwhelming,” said Ajit K Motwani, head of the development office at IIM-A. What helped was director Ashish Nanda’s Harvard background, which helped foster the culture of alumni giving.
The largest individual contribution was Rs 11 crore by an anonymous IIM-A graduate to support heritage campus infrastructure and entrepreneurship scholarships.
Old students have contributed Rs 5 crore for faculty chairs and upgrading classrooms. The highest batch contribution so far was Rs 2.5 crore by the class of 1992.
According to VK Menon, chief marketing and development officer at IIM-Bangalore, the practice of giving back to Bschools is gathering steam in India. “IIM-B has now entered a phase of high growth. The second campus is coming up in Jigani in Bengaluru. In this growth and expansion, alumni and corporate funding will play a significant role,” said Menon. The institute has set up internal structures and a team to look into fund-raising. At IIM-B, the total pledges over the past few years were about Rs 4 crore.
“With the CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives of companies gaining steam, we expect funds from industries also to strengthen,” said Menon.
Debabrata Chatterjee, dean (administration and development), at IIMKozhikode, which has more than 3,500 alumni, said active mobilisation for contributions started in 2016.
Edelweiss Group CEO Rashesh Shah, a graduate of IIM-Ahmedabad’s batch of 1989, has contributed twice: once as part of a batch that gave Rs 2.3 crore and the other when Edelweiss set up a chair of finance at the institute.
“India has grown so well. Alumni of institutes such as the IITs and IIMs are also doing well for themselves. The capacity to give is there and so is the institutes’ need for resources, given they need to constantly upgrade,” he said.
According to Shah, institutes need structured programmes for fund-raising. “Indian B-schools have just started focussing on this agenda recently, whereas those abroad have been doing it for years. Over the next 5-10 years, this should evolve well,” he said.
Former students contribute towards causes dear to them and mostly as part of donations by batches. The money typically goes towards scholarships for children of staff, support for faculty research, infrastructure building, conservation and other community initiatives.
“Alumni have volunteered funds toward construction of a swimming pool, introducing IIMCalcutta Case Research Centre, instituting scholarships and awards and commissioning the proposed sports complex,” said Uttam Kumar Sarkar, dean of new initiatives and external relations at IIM-Calcutta.
Alumni contribute in other ways, too. At IIM-Calcutta, they participate in guest talks and management conclaves, provide industry inputs for programmes and serve as mentors to students. The IIM-Calcutta Innovation Park, a technology business incubator, has a mentor pool of 90 IIM-C alumni.
Sushil Kumar, chairperson of alumni affairs at IIM-Lucknow, said the institute utilises their time and networks. “Our alumni are engaged in one-on-one mentoring of our students on how they position themselves in the industry.
We also take their feedback on pedagogy and curriculum improvement,” said Kumar. For Ivy League institutes, alumni funding is a big source of funds.
At Harvard Business School, 80% of all living alumni have contributed at least once, according to its website. Stanford’s Business School Fund FY16 report says almost 7,000 donors representing 38% of MBA alumni gave $15.6 million in funding in the year ended August 31, 2016. European Bschools such as INSEAD also are active on this front.