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Annual Fund: Class Gifts
Cornell Executive MBA (EMBA)—Palisades
Omer Gajial
Omer Gajial

"We went for broad participation," says Omer Gajial, MBA '10, who led his class gift effort. One of his team's key strategies was to engage the class in establishing its financial goal. "We set the landscape for what would be appropriate, we told them what last year's class had brought in, and then the class decided on the number they wanted to target." As a result of their shared decision-making and their competitive spirit, the class raised 45 percent more than the class of 2009.

Like the residential team, the EMBA team used individual outreach—first through class representatives, and then friends-of-friends—to make sure everyone understood the rationale for giving. That strategy, too, was successful, resulting in 98 percent participation.

"What we said was, 'If we have gotten some value out of the program, made some friendships, and affiliate ourselves with Johnson, then we should give back.' We also said that if classmates saw the potential upside from this program, such as a future promotion or a professional milestone, an Annual Fund gift seemed like an appropriate investment."

Gajial describes the relationship between his EMBA class and the school as dynamic. "While we were in the program, we were also able to partner with the faculty and administration to make the program better for future classes." Healthy discussions led to increased career services for EMBAs and some improvements in the program itself. Discretionary dollars from the Annual Fund helped to pay for some of those initiatives.