Alumni Relations News Roundup


‘Inspired by Yale’ Video Showcases Alumni Groups and Engagement

Take a peek at Yale’s alumni relations successes from the past year, and learn some interesting trends and approaches.  Among them: Reunions today are more vibrant than ever, setting new records in 2015 for overall attendance. More than 7,000 graduates, family, and friends returned for Yale College reunions in the spring of 2015.

‘Will they switch off Game of Thrones for this?’ The Art of Alumni Communication

The Guardian’s Higher Education Network offers this great article on communicating with alumni. The bottom line: “You’re up against Twitter, text messages and diminishing attention spans, so make it snappy (and not about strategic plans).”

After Unrest, Mizzou Alumni Association Revives Black Alumni Network

The University of Missouri’s alumni association has re-instituted its Black Alumni Network in response to numerous requests made in the weeks after racial tensions exploded on the school’s campus.

Alumni Giving Study Affirms Connection between Engagement and Giving

Corporate Insights recently reported that although nearly eight in ten alumni “feel positively” about their alma mater, only 22% have donated to their college or university in the last year. The report explored characteristics of donors vs. non-donors, and a key finding was that eighty percent of alumni donors indicated they have benefitted from their association with their alma mater. Among others, this finding underscores the new framework for alumni engagement: providing lifelong value for lifelong loyalty.


Alumni Relations and Development Work Hand in Hand for a Big Success

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association has a lot to be proud of. Earlier this month, the association partnered with its development colleagues to launch UMassGives, an online fundraising campaign that raised over $80,000 in just 36 hours.

The alumni association staff played a key role in recruiting alumni to be online ambassadors, or influential Internet users who were vocal online supporters of their alma mater.

Beyond increasing support for UMass Amherst, the campaign raised the alumni association’s visibility and social media presence and demonstrated its commitment to serving the university, . We asked Elena Lamontagne, Director of Alumni Communications and Marketing, and Moira Gentry, Associate Director for Alumni Communications, for a behind-the-scenes look at the alumni association’s role in the campaign. Read their answers to our questions and see our colleague Justin Ware’s campaign wrap up video below.

  • How did the UMassGives campaign fit in with your strategy for alumni engagement via social media?
    Our social media strategy is to be a support mechanism for campus partners and an information resource for our alumni. The UMassGives campaign allowed the Alumni Association to inform constituents of the impact of giving for important university initiatives, thereby achieving both goals. It also raised our visibility and social media presence, as it demonstrated our commitment to serving the UMass community.
  • How did the alumni association help identify online ambassadors?
    It was a team effort. We asked all our staff to identify alumni volunteers with strong communication and social media skills that would be a good fit with this effort. We then approached our loyal and passionate alumni with a proposal to become an online ambassador and the rest is history!
  • What trends did you observe (if any) in participation by age group or other demographics?
    Overall, the campaign was slightly younger and more female than our regular social media followers (which tend to be male and a bit older, so the campaign was probably more toward the median).
  • How did you measure your success?
    We measured success by the number of new Likes and Follows and by the engagement levels such as RTs (retweets), favorites, shares, etc., We also tracked the results of our boosting others’ signals to help them win the various challenges. We really think we helped the Permaculture Initiative to win!
  • What would you say to those alumni programs that might be hesitant to participate in a fundraising campaign?
    Alumni Relations and Development really have to work hand in hand to communicate the university’s goals and to provide alumni with opportunities to be involved in the life of their alma mater. The UMassGives campaign demonstrated a coordinated effort across campus to achieve a specific goal, and our alumni were excited to be part of it.

Growing Pains in Community College Alumni Relations, and other Alumni Engagement News

CASE Study Reveals Growing Pains at Community College Alumni Relations ProgramsCommunity-Colleges
A recent CASE survey found that community colleges are likely to see an increase in giving when they track and engage their alumni.  However, data indicate that two-year institutions have made minimal investments in staffing and resources to develop alumni relatio
ns programs. Other findings from the study include:

  • Many community college employees who work in alumni relations have relatively little experience in their current roles. Nearly half of chief alumni relations officers had been in their position two years or less.
  • Less than 60 percent of survey respondents indicated that their community colleges maintain a dedicated annual operating budget for alumni relations. Among those institutions that specified the amount of their alumni relations budgets, the average annual amount was $23,611.
  • Three approaches to defining alumni appear to be used with frequency in community colleges. More than two-fifths of the responding institutions defined alumni as anyone who has ever taken one or more classes. Nearly 40 percent defined alumni as degree or certificate holders, while 30 percent said an alumnus is anyone who has completed a certain number of hours or units.
  • Many community colleges do not have updated contact information for a large number of their alumni, although successful record-keeping appears to facilitate giving from alumni. Responding institutions tracked mailing addresses for 48 percent and email addresses for 12 percent of their alumni population on average.
  • Financial support from alumni is an active segment of total giving, but there is room for growth at most community colleges. The average amount for total private giving from alumni was $50,846, which represents 6.5 percent of the average figure for total dollar amount giving from all sources.

Alumni Advocacy Plays an Increasing Role in Higher Ed Strategy
Higher education institutions are mobilizing their alumni to be advocates, speaking with local, state, and federal representatives about issues that impact their alma mater. Read how the University of Minnesota, the University of Rhode Island  and The Ohio State University have used alumni advocacy to not only engage alumni but achieve major gains for their institutions.

Houston Alumni Association Affiliates with University
The University of Houston Alumni Association is affiliating with the University in an effort to double the number of alumni it engages annually and strengthen relationships with alumni, students and the school. The association will retain its nonprofit status and independent board of directors, but staff will focus more on programming than fundraising or securing annual memberships.

Dartmouth Attracts 500 Alumni to Celebration of 40th Anniversary of Coeducation
Dartmouth hosted a weekend of events to mark the 40th anniversary of coeducation and celebrated inclusivity and alumnae achievements. About 500 alumni attended the weekend of events featuring Dartmouth Trustee Laurel Richie ’81, president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and actor and comedian Rachel Dratch ’88, a former cast member of Saturday Night Live.

Alumni Family Pledges $13.5 Million to The Ohio State University
Three generations of a Columbus area family pledged a gift of $13.5 million to establish the largest and most comprehensive sports medicine facility in the country and fund early childhood and foreign language education.

How Do You Raise a $30Million Class Gift?

In a previous post, we shared that the Carleton College class of 1962 had given a record-breaking $30 Million gift at their 50th class reunion. We know a gift of this size does not raise itself, so we asked Mari Aylin, Carleton’s Director of 50th Reunion Programs, to tell us how it happened.

Watch this video to find out what the key factors were and hear Mari’s advice for those who work in reunion giving.