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A Thank You Note for Yale SOM Alumni

Recently, students in Prof. Zoë Chance’s Mastering Influence & Persuasion course spent four evenings making fundraising calls for the Alumni Fund. In addition to practicing the art of cold-calling, Chance says, they got to know the generous and tight-knit Yale SOM alumni community.

Dear Yale SOM Alumni,

THANK YOU to all of you who took calls from students who were calling for a challenge as part of our influence and persuasion class at SOM!

Your friendly responses gave them motivation when they needed it, your generosity moved and inspired them, and your rejections helped them build resilience. They were surprised by how incredibly nice you are—and shocked when some of you even spontaneously offered help with their job searches (!).

Each week brings new class challenges for these students, and the cold-calling challenge wasn’t easy. Nick Rodriguez, MBA Class of 2018, shared, “Having never cold-called anyone before in my life, I was a bit apprehensive about how alumni would respond. Would they be happy to hear from me, or would they hang up on me? Because I was so unsure about what to expect, I felt a bit of delight when my initial calls went unanswered.”

But it got easier. “When alumni finally did answer the phone, I was surprised to hear how supportive they were of our fundraising efforts. About 80% of the people I spoke with contributed to the Alumni Fund, which is a reflection of the enthusiasm with which Yale alumni love and support their alma mater.”

Two hundred and fifty of you said “Yes!” and raised $34,500 for the Alumni Fund! And many others had already donated or planned a donation for the near future. Arun Adhikary, MAM Class of 2018, described the experience: “My first call was a great one. That set the tone for rest of my calls. The alums were generous the moment they heard ‘Yale SOM,’ and my comfort level grew with each call. In the end, I walked away with an amazing experience of the fundraising, confidence to talk to strangers for the right reasons, and appreciation of donors as well as the team raising donations.”

More alumni support Yale SOM than support any other peer business school, with one exception. High rates of participation are key factors in motivating big donors, so even if you chipped in a small amount, it’s meaningful and we appreciate it! Congratulations and thank you to Cindy Sacramone, queen of the Alumni Fund, who made our calling nights straightforward and enjoyable. (Our note to self for next year: bring cold beers for everyone.)

On a personal note, I was touched to see pledges coming in from some of my former students. I wish I could have talked to more of you—like you, Lucyann Murray! And I wish for continued success and happiness for all of you.

We, the administrators, faculty, and staff, will do our best to invest your contributions in the long-term success of the school, and to make you proud to be part of this community. We’re both proud and humbled.

Christine Chen, MBA class of 2018, put it perfectly: “The school might have changed a bit since it was founded, but SOM is a magical place and that magic carries itself into the alum world.  Every person I spoke to, regardless of whether they pledged or not, cared deeply for the school and was genuinely interested in how it’s being shaped now. I feel very lucky and honored to be part of not just a network, but a close family of brilliant members of society that will all contribute to changing the world.”

I feel very lucky and honored too.

With gratitude and best wishes to you and your families,

Zoë Chance
Assistant Professor of Marketing 

Related: Watch a video about students’ experiences in the 2016 phoneathon: