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AHEM, Mr Murthy

As Infosys honcho N R Narayana Murthy's comments about IIT students and deteriorating quality kicks up a controversy, the Mumbai institution believes its alumni will deliver -- in cash, cheque and now, online

Two batches of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) -- Bombay of 2010 and 2011 who pledged to donate one percent from their earnings to the institution have got a password and login ID to begin donating to their alma mater. The portal,  which will be linked from the alumni portal http://www.iitbombay.org/. was being tested and is now ready for donation. It may sound ambitious but the IIT is hoping that each batch gives at least Rs 50 lakh per year.


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Just not enough
When one thinks about it, Rs 200 crore which is what the institution has collected from ex-students is humongous, but for the alumni of IIT Bombay this is obviously not enough. So, to reach more donors, and also include older batches in the list of contributors, the association recently launched something called the Decennial Fund. The fund, which was launched by IIT's alumni association, will help the Mumbai Powai institution to raise more funds than earlier. It also taps untapped potential for funds as it is now easier for overseas alumni to donate to IIT, using the online option. Earlier, donations were given through cheques and demand drafts.

Across the world
Over the last 15 years, IIT Mumbai alumni from across the world have contributed an estimated Rs 200 crore for their alma mater. Earlier, only donors who could donate crores were the ones who were coming forward.

Now, though, with the new portal even the smallest donations can be made easily, as with more access because of the online route there is also clearer streamlining. The person can login with his user and password and he can see for which purpose he wants to donate. There are avenues like donating for hostels, for mess workers or for professors. Once he has that clear, he can click on that link and look at information about how much money is being used from the funds donated towards that particular purpose, whether there is need for more money and what is the balance. Moreover, if the donor is going to pay periodically, he will get reminders on time. He will also get all information about his donations and since it is only human to expect an acknowledgement, a little gratitude for a sum irrespective of size, he will get thank you notes as well.

Keep a track
Most importantly, the donor now knows what happens to the money. The donor can not only donate, but also keep a track of his donation. It maintains donor history, tracks payments and enables donors to receive periodic fund utilisation reports at regular intervals. Designed by Findability Sciences who helped create and run a similar platform for United Ways, a US-based charity, this is the first such initiative by them for an educational institution in India. There are total 40,000 alumni of IIT-B and out of that 10,000 are the members of the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association (BAA) The rest of the 30,000 are not members of the IITBAA. Out of 30,000 alumni, at least 10,000 are in touch with the association.

Pay it back
Bakul Desai, alumni from batch 1982, and director-in-charge of IITBAA fund raising, said, "We have found out that there are many people who want to donate to IIT-B and so far it was restricted to only few big donors, who donated in crores. Now that we have this initiative, we can accept small donations in recurring fashion.

Some people can pay monthly, some can pay yearly. Last year, we began something called 'give one percent of your salary for IIT-B'. We don't call it donation, we call it pay back because IIT has given us so much that we need to pay back. One per cent does not pinch. Fresh graduates who earn about seven lakh per year, have to pay only Rs 7,000 a year, which amounts to hardly Rs 600 or Rs 700 per month. We are 40,000 alumni worldwide and we have 20,000 from that on our database. From that, 10,000 are alumni association members and the rest are not. So, we need to reach out as many ex-students as possible." Desai also adds that it is difficult to keep track of former students because of their mobility. "The alumni association tries to locate 200-300 alumni every year, because these people keep moving."

Generous with time
Starting from the batch of 2010, alumni collected pledges from almost 800 fresh graduates that they will donate one percent. From the 2011batch, alumni collected almost 1,100 pledges.  Prof A Q Contractor, Dean, Alumni and Corporate Relations said, "We are fortunate to have alumni who have not only been generous with funds but also with their time. The innovative approaches to fund-raising, organisation and mobilisation could only have come from IITians. Several of our alumni have spent time participating in our academic and research programs, bringing valuable international experience to these programs.'

Ram Kelkar, President of IIT Bombay Heritage Fund, said, "1,200 alumni in the US have donated over US $35million in Gurudakshina (this includes about $25million in cash and the balance in equipment donations) over the years. Not only that; as much as 20 per cent are repeat donors."

At a glance
>> Annual donations to IIT Bombay are now in the vicinity of Rs 15 crore and the number of donors is close to a 1,000.

>> Over 40 per cent of the funds donated have gone to infrastructural projects which include Kanwal Rekhi School of IT, Shailesh Mehta School of Management, Gaitonde Lecture Hall Complex, D S Foundation Gymkhana, Victor Menezes Convention Center, Shenoy Innovation Studio, Suman Mashruwalla Advanced Micro Micro-engineering Lab, PC Saxena Auditorium, Lecture Hall Complex, Hostel Renovation, Broadband connectivity to hostel etcetera.

Alumni donations also support
>> Over 100 named scholarships
>> 7  Research Excellence awards
>> 14 Teaching Excellence Awards
>> 5 Student Merit Excellence Awards 
>> 7 Chair Professorships supported by alumni donations

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