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Chicago GSB alumni clearly love a challenge. In 1996, Eric J. Gleacher, ’67, called on graduates to increase their participation in the Annual Fund over the next five years, promising up to $15 million in matching gifts and bonuses. The response was overwhelming, and as of December 31, 1999, the Gleacher Challenge exceeded its goal—a full year and a half ahead of schedule.

During the challenge, the Annual Fund surpassed every quarterly goal in giving and matches earned—and experienced an unprecedented 18 percent average growth rate, up from 4 percent in previous years.

The challenge achieved its mission of inspiring greater participation in the Annual Fund—increasing giving from $2.5 million in fiscal year 1996 to $4 million in fiscal year 1999—while earning $15 million-plus in matching funds to pay down the Gleacher Center debt. Nearly $11 million was contributed to the Annual Fund in fiscal years 1996 through 1999, providing essential unrestricted funds for the school.

“The Annual Fund provides fiscal flexibility, money that can be used at a moment’s notice—money, for example, that was used to retain top finance faculty members when they were being recruited by other institutions,” said Gloria Balcazar, director of the Annual Fund.

The Gleacher Challenge sparked new levels of Annual Fund giving in every category, from recent graduates to longtime donors. The tremendous response prompted the creation of the Laureate category for gifts of $25,000 or more. Giving at this level increased 108 percent during the challenge, from gifts totaling just over $400,000 during the first year of the challenge to nearly $840,000 during fiscal year 1999.

Although the Gleacher Challenge is over, the challenge of the Annual Fund continues. A major component of the newly announced capital campaign (see “Making History” on page 22), the Annual Fund must sustain the current level of giving, raising $20 million in unrestricted funds over the next five years.

It’s an ambitious goal, Balcazar said. But as Chicago GSB alumni have already proven, they’re capable of meeting—and exceeding—expectations.—C.N.
*M.B.A. 1967, campus program

*B.S. 1962, Northwestern University

*Veteran, U.S. Marine Corps

*Chairman and CEO, Gleacher & Co., New York City investment banking boutique specializing in mergers and acquisitions

*Former worldwide head of mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley

The challenge In 1996, Gleacher encouraged giving to the Annual Fund by pledging $15 million in matching grants over a five-year period. In appreciation for the challenge and Gleacher’s long commitment to the school, the GSB named its downtown center the Gleacher Center.

The philosophy “[Chicago GSB] did a lot for me; to have an opportunity to give something back is a privilege,” Gleacher said in 1996 when his gift was announced. “The idea of a matching gift was very appealing. It will create interest among alumni and increase support in a way that will be permanent.”

The result A swift and overwhelming response. The challenge was met in just 31/2 years, resulting in $15,234,216 in matching funds and bonuses from Eric Gleacher and an increase in Annual Fund giving from $2.5 million before the challenge to $4 million in fiscal year 1999.—C.N.
What a Difference a Challenge Makes: Increases in Giving
Annual Fund giving increased across the board during the Gleacher Challenge.
*While alumni who gave at the same or lower levels as the previous year were not eligible for match categories, they were eligible for bonuses in some categories.
The Gleacher Challenge matched gifts in four categories:
recent graduates, new and increased gifts, Council members, and non-alumni. All unrestricted gifts from alumni in the five most recent graduation classes were matched at a four-to-one ratio. New gifts from all other graduates were matched two-to-one, and alumni who increased their regular gift earned a two-to-one match on the increased portion. Unrestricted gifts from Council members and non-alumni friends of the GSB also were matched two-to-one.
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