Yale Alums Break Giving Mark For 2nd Year

Yale University's School of Management

Yale University’s School of Management

Say what you will about the stereotypical elitism and snobbery at Ivy League universities. At least at the Yale School of Management they look after their own. In 2015-2016, for the second time in the school’s 40-year history, the alumni giving rate for the previous fiscal year topped 50%, with some 51.9% of SOM alumni giving back to the school through its Alumni Fund, up from 51.5% the previous year. Total giving also jumped from just over $3 million a year earlier to nearly $3.4 million in 2015-2016; all told, the Yale SOM raised more than $51 million in gifts this fiscal year.

“I think a lot of schools raise $50 million or more in particular years but I don’t know that you see it very often with an alumni participation rate above 50%,” Yale SOM Dean Edward “Ted” Snyder tells Poets&Quants. “I don’t know of any case, myself.”

To be sure, what Snyder is calling the “50-50 rule” is not the B-school norm. And Yale SOM graduates are increasingly cementing themselves as the most generous crop of B-school graduates. Still, one school remains a considerable outlier. “Tuck of course is the leader,” Snyder admits. “And their numbers are staggering. They’re the major outlier.” Indeed, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business remains supremely above the B-school alumni giving norm. Some 70% of alumni from Tuck regularly give back. The total amounts have been just over $6 million the past three years.


Typically alumni giving rates at top schools hover around 20% to 25%. In recent years, schools like Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan, and Chicago Booth have all had alumni giving rates at less than 20%. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and Harvard Business School typically range in the 20% to 25%, while Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has trended a bit higher in recent years at around 40%.

But considering Yale SOM’s relatively young and small alumni base, the numbers are even more impressive and speak worlds about alumni satisfaction levels. This year the total alumni base topped 7,000 for the first time, and the median alumnus age is still around 45.

Two years ago Snyder, who has served as dean at Chicago’s School of Business and Virginia’s Darden School of Business, set a goal of reaching more than 50% for alumni giving. Mission accomplished. “It’s clearly against trend, based on everything we know,” Snyder says. There were setbacks. In the past decade, the rate came close twice: first, in the fiscal year ending in 2006, when an alumni base of less than 5,000 gave at a 49.1% clip; then, in 2011, the alumni giving rate came close again at 49.3% before plunging to 44.4% in 2012 and bottoming out at 41.7% in 2013.

Since then, Yale’s rate ticked up to 45.2% in 2014, 51.5% in 2015, and 51.9% this year.


According to Snyder, there have been no significant changes in strategy or outreach. “There is no magic here,” he insists, noting the school’s network of alumni leaders and volunteers. Still, emphasis has been placed on class reunions and class gifts, he says. And it’s the latter that could prove incredibly fruitful moving forward. Across Yale SOM’s three master’s programs — the Full-Time MBA, MBA for Executives, and Master of Advanced Management — 100% of the graduating class of 2016 contributed to the alumni fund. Those numbers will be reflected in next year’s Alumni Fund, Snyder says. “You want to think stock and flow, that’s the flow of new alumni,” he says. “We think we still have upside.”

Where other schools focus on the “spikes” in the gift pyramid tactic of fundraising, Snyder says Yale SOM is using a different tactic — commitment to a unique mission, and communicating it well. A transformational experience plus belief in Yale SOM’s mission of becoming the most global U.S. business school and the school most connected to its home university — that’s what Snyder believes has led to such a generous alumni base.

“The messages are simple, compelling, and also inviting,” he says. “So the sense of team keeps getting bigger and bigger. And more people want to join in.” Snyder reasons that the uptick could also have to do with the repetition of messages. “People actually do understand these key objectives and the focus, repetition, and persistence when it comes to strategy,” he continues. “I think people like that.”


That, and alumni have to be pleased with the school’s recent siege of the full-time MBA rankings and impressive new digs. “We try to do a good job of keeping them informed and excited, and we thank them.”

Snyder believes that through its messaging, which continually points to its two overarching goals, Yale SOM is able to connect strongly with its alumni base.

“Some alumni may not particularly like or know about the global network for advanced management, but they may know about the increased percentage of joint-degree students,” Snyder says. “They may know that the entrepreneurship courses we’ve built out are open to the rest of Yale students. They pick up things and hear basically the same two overarching objectives — work cross campus and work globally — and I think that makes the communication and connection better.”

As for where the fund goes, “it goes to everything,” Snyder says. The school tends to over-spend on scholarships and new programs like entrepreneurship and the global network, he says, and the Alumni Fund helps fill those gaps. “We use it to cover pens and paper,” Snyder says. “It’s everything.”


  • DMAC

    If you are in the LA area, there is an MBA conference on Saturday, August 20 at UCLA.

    This is a wonderful opportunity for those applying or thinking about business school. Admission counselors from the Top 25 MBA programs will be attending to share their advice with candidates no matter where they are in the MBA application process.

    When: Saturday, August 20, 2016
    Where: UCLA, Covel Commons
    Why: Meet Admissions Officers from the top MBA Programs face-to-face during roundtable sessions (10 participants per table); Get advice directly from Admission Officers of your dream school; Workshops and panel discussions focusing on making you a more competitive candidate; Learn about scholarship, fellowship and grant opportunities

    MBA programs CONFIRMED to attend:
    Carnegie Mellon: Tepper School of Business
    Columbia Business School
    Cornell University: The Johnson School of Management
    Dartmouth College: Tuck School of Business
    Duke University: The Fuqua School of Business
    Georgetown University: McDonough School of Business
    Harvard Business School
    Indiana University: Kelley School of Business
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Sloan School of Management
    New York University: Stern School of Business
    Northwestern University: Kellogg School of Management
    Stanford Graduate School of Business
    University of California, Berkeley: Haas School of Business
    University of California, Los Angeles: Anderson School of Management
    University of Chicago: Booth School of Business
    University of Michigan: Ross School of Business
    University of Notre Dame: Mendoza College of Business
    University of Pennsylvania: The Wharton School
    University of Southern California: Marshall School of Business
    University of Texas at Austin: McCombs School of Business
    University of Virginia: Darden School of Business
    University of Washington: Foster School of Business
    Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
    Washington University in St. Louis: Olin Business School
    Yale School of Management

    Tickets on sale at Eventbrite. Used code MBA16 for $35 off!


  • somsquared

    disagree. Yale SOM went from sub 20 in USNEWS to #5 in a decade. They will be #1 soon when GMAT go higher 20-30 points for 760 average 3.9 GPA average and 175k starting salary 90% PE placement. Yale SOM PRESTIGERU.

  • BrazBain

    Nathan – just did rough calculation of contributions/contributors and saw average contribution per donor doubled….any clues to why that is? Or does the article above apply to increase in size of contribution as it does the proportion of contributing alumni?

  • elitist

    I agree Yale will most likely supplant one of the M7 schools eventually, but no way they are number 1.

    I can’t believe i’m debating you and doubt you even go to SOM, but CBS has always been considered the top business school on the east coast, maybe tied with HBS. I spoke to a guy who works in a ranking company and he said that CBS would be ranked #1 or 2 if they didn’t take into account job placement or prestige, so basically we are only ranked 3rd in the U.S. bc of that.

  • GoldmanSachsGal

    “wharton/booth/CBS are far analytical”

    they also appear to be far less gramatical…

    Besides the point, I agree Wharton and Booth are far more analytical, but according to standardized scores, grades, acceptance rate, prestige SOM has CBS beat on all fronts.

    I went to Booth so I have no axe in this game, but you sir clearly do. I can taste your CBS tears from here..

  • SOMSquaredIsATROLL

    Why are people responding to this troll, it clearly isn’t an SOM student. It’s prob a CBS student with an axe to grind so they are acting overly arrogent to give SOM students a bad name.

    “M7 is just another name for Top 7, everyone knows that”

    The fact that people are candidly responding to this type of comment is just as ridiculous. Honest question, do you all not know when you are being trolled?

  • non-elitist

    Yale is higher in USNEWS. 90% of MBA applicants use USNEWS to make decision, Yale in M7 top 5 USNEWS best ranking #1

  • avivalasvegas

    Choosing a business school is a deeply personal choice. I’ve known people to reject schools for reasons that make no sense to me.
    That being said, choosing a lesser school over an M7 program is probably a mistake most won’t understand so quickly…but eventually will. I really loved Yale when I visited. I just don’t think it has any edge over any M7 program…even CBS. It gets tougher when you compare Yale to LBS, Tuck and Berkeley, I would probably chose the West Coast over the other schools but it would be very close.
    Compared to Duke, Stern, Darden and the other Top 20 programs out there, Yale is a superior choice.

  • elitist

    there is not one PE firm which even recruits at SOM
    Please stop this SOM Hype
    wharton/booth/CBS are far analytical

  • elitist

    Yale can’t even keep up their undergrad ranking – forget business school
    for last three years – Columbia undergrad admit rate is lower than yale

    and CBS new building is getting ready

    and all the consulting frims are full of CBS grads

    how many partners are Yale SOM’s – you can count them
    Good luck dreaming !

  • notCBSfan

    I agree, I had 4 friends get into YSOM and CBS this cycle, all of them chose YSOM over CBS. They were all concerned by CBS’s precipitous drop in USNEWS rankings. CBS will be 14-15 in 2 years, YSOM will be top 1 or 2.

  • SomethingSou

    Very impressive stuff. Was anyone actually surprised that Yale was going to turn this thing into a top 10 (possibly top 5 program). School has a 30Billion dollar endowment, you can buy the best professors, administrators, + students.

  • HexE3i3

    Hey CrimsonBullDog, i’m also in SOM class ’18, and choose SOM over CBS and Kellogg…was tough choice (and didn’t get $$$ like you).

    SOM feels as if they are on the right trajectory – not to say that CBS/Kellogg aren’t – but everything you see about Yale is improving y-o-y, whereas CBS seems to be taking a step backwards. Just my 2 cents.

  • GoldmanSachsGal

    Startups are now the litmus test for strength of program? I love how people cling to whatever they can to justify their school’s superiority over others. All of my friends at CBS (who are adults and don’t support their school dogmatically) acknowledge the facilities are atrocious, and the school is hurting because of its focus on the financial sector. As less jobs are available and less adults want to move into finance (vs. tech, consulting etc) schools like CBS are going to be start slipping in rank.

    like commenter said above, YSOM is now being chosen over CBS reguarly

  • CrimsonBullDog

    Thank you for the thoughtful response. I enjoyed the piece, keep up the good work!

  • somsquared

    M7 is just another name for Top 7, everyone knows that. Also, based on this data it’s no question SOM will be in the top 4 or 5 next ranking. Highest alumni giving rate, highest GPA, highest GMAT, 2nd lowest accept rate => top 3 USNEWS.

  • nope

    you wrongly claim that M7 is based on USNews Top 7 then include Tuck/yale which aren’t in the top 7 and leave out booth and haas which are. Logical.

  • snobbone

    while CBS and Wharton are taking over the NYC startups.. all the major big start ups these days are wharton/CBS alums.. where are the Yale SOM startups???
    Yale MBA’s are all middle management types
    All Hype and !

  • somsnobhunter

    Yeah, I am pretty sure “Yale is now part of the M7” just based on your username.

  • somsquared

    M7 = Magnificent Seven

    HBS, SGSB, Wharton, MIT, Kellogg, Tuck & YSOM according to USNEWS.

  • quest

    How can an MBA program that is just 11 years old to be considered top 10?! It needs time to grow and build alumni base and to have its impact on business world.

  • nope

    you clearly don’t know what the M7 is. It’s not the top 7 schools based on USN. from a P&Q article, “But years ago, the deans of these top seven schools decided to form their informal network to share information and to meet twice a year, and through the years, the group has been limited by the self-anointed seven institutions. It’s not only the deans who get together. The M7 modality cascades down to meetings among vice deans, admission directors, career management directors, even PR and marketing types.”

  • somsquared

    I think you have the wrong information. Columbia dropped off M7 when they placed 10th in USNEWS. With YSOM at 7 they are now part of the M7.

  • nope

    its pretty much consensus that m7+tuck/haas are the top 9 and i don’t see that changing. yale could end up settling into the 10 spot longer term though.

  • Hi CrimsonBullDog,

    First, congrats on being accepted to three fantastic schools! I’m not sure how much of a common theme it is that people don’t consider Yale SOM as a top 10 school as much as a few vocal commenters with an ax to grind.

    However, they are right in the fact Yale SOM has never been in the top 10 of a respectable ranking until recently. The past P&Q composite ranking (2015) was the first time Yale SOM made broke into the top 10.

    There are probably some current or recently graduated Yale SOM students who could tell you more but the recent trending up in the rankings broadly have to do with a few things. Since Dean Snyder arrived, the school has increased it’s full-time MBA class size by over 100, lowered acceptance rates to around 20%, has increased its average GMAT to 721 and has opened a new $243 million home. These recent trends have helped the school tick up in virtually every ranking, as reflected in the P&Q composite ranking.

    But to answer your question, if there is a common theme of readers not acknowledging Yale SOM as a top 10 school, that will likely change as long as Yale SOM continues to do what they’ve been doing for the past five or so years and they continually secure top 10 placements in notable rankings.


  • CrimsonBullDog

    Hi Nathan, I Recently chose to attend SOM with small scholarship over CBS and Kellogg. After speaking with several current students it seems like many others have made similar choice. I am relatively new to the bschool blog world but am curious why there is this common theme that people don’t consider SOM a top-10 school? Thanks JC

  • kad

    I’d be perfectly happy if we can cement ourselves in the top 7 over the next few years. jumping to #4/5 in a year is unrealistic, but so is the notion that the school has topped out with no rightful place in the top 10 at this point

  • Dodong

    Yale SOM is not #7 on USN&WR. It’s #8, tied with Dartmouth, and I think it will be the highest rank it will ever get. I would predict it to fall out of the top 9 soon — where it rightfully belongs. Seriously.

  • somsquared

    I think this is highly correlated with Yale’s rankings. Yale is #7 in USNEWS and will potentially break into the top 4 or 5 next year. I’m loving the trend.