In 2008, Chandra Weiss Storrusten (MBA '03) attended her five-year Fuqua reunion. There were 142 students from across the world in her graduating class, but only six people were sitting at the table for their class dinner.
"There weren't many members of our class who lived in the Triangle," Storrusten said. "But having only six people at a huge table was disappointing."
As her 10-year reunion approaches, Storrusten is aiming to increase the number of classmates sitting around that table. She is co-chairing her reunion committee with hopes of promoting a strong turnout and inspiring leadership giving.
"So far it's been a great way to reconnect with the school," Storrusten said. "I've been able to get back in touch with old classmates and have started to reconnect with the people with whom I used to maintain regular contact."
Mike Byerley, Assistant Director for Reunion Giving, said graduates serving as ambassadors for the school strengthen the appeal of returning for reunion and participating in the reunion class gift campaign. With 570 alumni in attendance at Fuqua Reunions 2012, the three-day event is Fuqua's largest alumni gathering, and the number of alumni and guests returning for reunion is growing as the alumni base grows.
"People realize there is a lot of value in coming back for that weekend," Byerley said. "They get to reconnect with old professors and classmates and renew their ties with the school. Having a committee of alumni volunteers who build excitement around attending the weekend and giving back philanthropically makes that connection even stronger."
The milestone years that reunion celebrates are an opportunity for alumni to look back on the impact their Fuqua degree has had in their lives and to make a gift to the school that reflects that impact. At the heart of the reunion committee's gift campaign is individual outreach. Each committee member will personally contact a group of classmates to seek their support for the class gift and to build attendance at reunion. The committee goals for Fuqua Reunions 2013 are 30 percent attendance from each class and 40 percent participation in the Fuqua Annual Fund.
"This is a great time both personally and professionally in my classmates' lives to become more significant contributors to Fuqua," Storrusten said. "My classmates and I always think it is important to give back, but it becomes top-of-mind during a reunion year. It's a great opportunity for us to reconnect with the school, remember our bond with Fuqua and, in appreciation for this relationship, commit to becoming a recurring donor."
Storrusten said many of her classmates are looking forward to the Leadership Donor Reception at reunion in recognition of their leadership giving. They are also exploring options to further their contributions' impact by taking advantage of their companies' matching gift programs
"Each gift is a vote of confidence for Fuqua," Byerley said. "It's a strong statement that shows prospective students and employers that students do well here and graduates have pride in their school. By giving back, alumni are showing they had a great experience and want to stay invested in the school."
"The more people who stay involved, the better," Storrusten said. "There's so much excitement about coming back, rekindling relationships and staying connected to the school."