IITs remain big daddy of fundraisers
Last month, Arjun Malhotra, co-founder of HCL Technologies and chief executive officer, Headstrong, an information technology consulting firm, donated
around Rs 50 million ($988,000) to his alma mater, the
Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur.
Malhotra, a 1970 BTech from IIT-Kharagpur, decided to
pledge $5 million during the golden jubilee of the institute,
which will use the money to establish the G S Sanyal School
of Telecommunication in the name of the former IIT director and faculty member.
When it comes to raising funds, IITs are clearly the big
daddy of the business. IIT-Bombay, for instance, has over
the last decade, generated Rs 2 billion ($39.51 million),
only via donations from its alumni.
Other IIT alumni who have given back to their alma
mater include N R Narayana Murthy (chairman emeritus,
Infosys Technologies), Nandan Nilekani (Infosys Technologies co-founder and chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India), Romesh Wadhwani (chairman and CEO,
Symphony Technology and founder, Wadhwani Foundation), Kanwal Rekhi (managing director, Inventus Capital), Vinod Gupta (founder and CEO, Database101.com and
Everest Group, LLC) and Vinod Khosla (co-founder, Sun
Microsystems) and many more.
Till recently, for IIT-Bombay, bulk of the donations were
raised in the US, where close to 90 percent of funds contributed were by large donors with some 25 donors giving
in excess of $100,000.
‘We encourage smaller donations from alumni across the
world,’ the institute had said in a statement this August. ‘It
works on the premise that if 50 percent of IIT-Bombay’s
40,000 string alumni choose to donate a mere Rs 10,000
($200) to their alma mater, IIT-Bombay would have access
to an additional Rs 200 million ($3.95 million) at its dis-
To facilitate the process, IIT-B also unveiled a new online
donations portal. Over 40 percent of the funds donated
have gone to infrastructure projects that include the Kan-
wal Rekhi School of IT, Shailesh Mehta School of Mana-
gement, Gaitonde Lecture Hall Complex, D S Foundation
Gymkhana and Victor Menezes Convention Centre among
Donations to IITs are wholly tax-deductible for both corporate bodies and individuals, with 100 percent exemption
under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. To facilitate foreign donations, various IITs have acquired non-profit tax
exemption status in the US.
At IIT-Madras, the coffer is filling up too. Per year, the
institute generates over Rs 100 million ($1.97 million).
This in addition to having alumni-sponsored infrastructure
“We use faculty to coordinate fundraising,” says R
Nagarajan, advisor, office of alumni affairs, IIT-Madras.
“This is not done at a professional level. We just ask alum-
ni to volunteer contributions.”
Early this year, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Madras came up
with a scheme wherein every graduating class is asked to
pledge any amount they wish to, for their institute, before
they leave the campus. A year after they graduate, the insti-
tute reminds them if they wish to make good the pledge.
“The first year, the student participation was 40 percent.
Last year, 80 percent pledged. We don’t look at it as a major
fundraising theme, but we use it to be in touch and stay
connected,” adds Nagarajan.
IIT-Delhi, however, says in the past decade, contributions
from its alumni would be anywhere around Rs 750 million
($14.82 million). The institute which has got aggressive on
fund raising in the last four years has garnered a neat Rs
400 million ($7.9 million) plus in the past year-and-a-half
from two of its ex-students.
“Seeking donations from alumni members has picked up
COURTES Y: WIKIPEDIA
When it comes to fundraising, IIT-Bombay leads the pack among the IITs. It generated Rs 2 billion ($39.51 million),
only via donations from its alumni, over the last decade. Till recently, the bulk of the donations to the institute were raised in the US
only in the last few years,” notes Professor Ashok Gupta,
Dean, alumni affairs and international programs. “Unlike
universities in the west, we have never really tapped into
our alumni network and sought donations aggressively.”
While the IITs say they stand tall when it comes to their students paying back the alma mater, the Indian Institutes of Management do not have
much to boast about.
And, Indian institutes will have to work on both fronts —
changing the culture and also take initiative (at the institute level) to have more stronger relationship with alumni.
But Nagarajan thinks that for IITs, seeking donation is
pretty much need based due to their sheer size. “IITs are
huge institutions,” he notes. “They offer both, an under-
graduate and a post graduate program for reasonable batch
sizes. The IIMs on the other hand, are able to charge high
tuition fee and don’t need funds as much.”
IIM faculty members differ. “Donating to one’s alma
mater is largely about their connection with the campus,”
says Ghosh. “You always have more loyalty towards your
undergraduate campus as you spend more time there than
you would at the post graduate campus. Besides, batch size
that IITs have is far more than that of IIMs.”
But IITs and IIMs unite in expressing their displeasure
towards Indian corporate houses donating internationally.
Last year, in one of the largest gift for the Harvard’s
Humanities Centre, Mahindra and Mahindra vice-chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra, gifted $10
million to the Harvard University. Mahindra had graduated from Harvard in 1977 and earned an MBA degree in
In 2010 again, the Tata Group donated $50 million to
Harvard Business School which was the largest interna-
tional donation in the school’s 102-year history. Ratan Tata
was a student of advanced management program at
Harvard in 1975. The donation is to fund a new building
that will support a broad range of executive education pro-
“It is rather displeasing to see Indian corporate heads
donating internationally when institutes back home need
such generosity,” the IIM director adds. “I hope they take a
leaf out of how IITs get donation from entrepreneurs inter-
nationally and help their institutes grow.”