Twenty years ago, the Law School faced two problems: declining state funding and a declining percentage of recent graduates who were becoming donors to the Law School.
So John Nannes, ’73, came up with an idea: He would donate $250 to any Law School organization or activity that a 3L student chose, if the student agreed to make a gift to the Law School in each of the first three years after graduation.
“I wanted students to see the importance of alumni support while they were still in school, in the hope that they would develop a culture of giving back to the Law School after they left,” says Nannes.
Dayna Chikamoto, 2015-2016 3L Challenge Co-Chair
Private support impacts everything at the Law School, and the 3L Challenge is a great way to plant a seed in students’ minds about giving back in the future.
In 2006, recognizing the effectiveness of peer-to-peer marketing, a student-led committee was formed to increase Challenge participation, and a new committee is formed each year.
This has spurred a friendly sense of competition among student orgs, and unleashed creative themes that included 2008 election parallels (“Vote Nannes”) and 2014’s “Bananas for Nannes” rhyme scheme. “Giving rates for recent classes are up because of the efforts of the student committees,” says Nannes.
Besides its immediate impact on student organizations and activities, the Challenge helps ensure the future strength of the Law School.
“I got involved because I recognized what those who came before me did to make [my Law School experience] what it was,” says Matt Nolan, ’06, who chaired 2006’s original student committee. “Many of us have student loans to repay, but that’s not a substitute for giving back.”
Nannes, who currently chairs the Law School’s Victors for Michigan campaign, admits to some surprise at the Challenge’s impact.
“We hoped the Challenge would encourage students to contribute to the Law School as alums,” he says, “but the benefits have exceeded that.
The Challenge has built a sense of camaraderie and common purpose across student groups that may be unique to Michigan.”
In 2009, Nannes endowed the 3L Challenge to ensure that it will remain a permanent fixture of the Law School. —BS
3L Challenge at a Glance
Students Have Taken the 3L Challenge
Gifts from Challenge Participants as Alumni
student orgs received funding from the challenge last year
Recent Grad Giving Rate (Classes of 2012-2014)
University-wide Giving Rate for those same classes