Alumni Relations News Roundup

Ohio State Launches Office to Connect Alumni with Volunteer Options

Ohio State University has launched a new tool to connect alumni and members of the Buckeye community with volunteer opportunities. This new portal (Volunteer Match) will enable alumni to choose specific areas of interest and allow for more extensive outreach, improved communication, and automated follow up.

Keep Your Alumni Engaged: Create a VC Fund for Them!

Josh Cline, President and CEO of The Cline Group International, discusses the effect of student loans and the decline of alumni engagement. To help improve the relationship between alumni and their institution, Cline suggests the creation of university-affiliated investment funds.

Increase in Student Transfers Worrying Alumni Offices

About 1 in 4 graduates will have transferred schools by the time they finish college. As the number of students transferring increases and the number of alumni decreases, what does this mean for alumni affinity and giving?

Harvard Recieves Largest-Ever Donation

Harvard alumnus Gerald Chan co-directs the Morningside Foundation, which donated $350 million to the university, making this the largest contribution in the institution’s history.



Image republished with permission of The Lantern,, Ohio State University. 


Alumni Relations News Roundup: Alumni Salaries, Legacy Admissions, and More


Why Alumni Salaries Matter and Why Some Colleges Wish They Didn’t
Lydia Frank, editorial director at, shares in a Huffington Post blog why alumni salaries are a useful metric. “As long as attending college costs money (and a lot of money, in many cases, even after financial aid is considered), students have a right to expect their school to prepare them to earn a decent living in their chosen field,” she writes.

Europe: Tapping the Potential of Graduate Ties
With little history of alumni engagement, universities in Europe are starting from scratch. “Before, alumni relations might have been seen as a nice thing to have…Now, universities are fundamentally rethinking their relationships with students and alumni.”

Michigan Defends Legacy Admissions Practices After Affirmative Action Arguments at Supreme Court
The University of Michigan defended its practice of giving preference in admissions to the children of alumni after the state’s solicitor general told the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday that eliminating the tradition would improve the university’s diversity.

Indiana University’s GLBT Alumni Association Launches $1Million Campaign for Student Scholarships
The IU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association launched what is believed to be the nation’s first-ever university-based scholarship campaign devoted to assisting GLBT students and promoting leadership on GLBT concerns. Bolstered by an anonymous $500,000 challenge gift, the campaign kicked off with more than $200,000 in cash and pledges.

Officers, Board Members Resign from Baylor Alumni Association
Finding new leaders has been added to the to-do list of the Baylor Alumni Association, which is in the process of charting its direction since the university announced plans last month to formally sever the group’s rights to serve as Baylor’s official alumni organization.

Western Michigan University Alumni Board Commits $1Million for New Alumni Center
All 22 members of the Western Michigan University Alumni Association board have made a personal financial commitment to the renovation of East Hall as an alumni center. The board also has approved another $1 million in association funds for the work.

BWF helps colleges and universities build and grow successful alumni relations programs. For more on BWF’s alumni engagement services, click here.

Football Giveaway + Social Media = Increased Alumni Engagement Online

The University of Iowa Alumni Association (UIAA) launched a Football Weekend Giveaway with a stellar grand prize: club seat tickets for the Iowa vs. Wisconsin football game, entrance to the UIAA Tailgate Party, a two-night stay at the Iowa House Hotel, and $100 gift certificate to a downtown Iowa City restaurant. In addition, UIAA members have an exclusive opportunity to win a $250 Hawk Shop gift certificate.

Alumni and friends enter to win by “liking” the UIAA’s Facebook page and completing an entry form. Participants can enter once a day and submit bonus entries by tagging the UIAA in an Instagram photo showing Hawkeye pride with #onceahawkeye in the caption.

This online campaign has a lot of potential. To increase their social media following, UIAA has targeted a younger alumni audience with a highly desirable offer. And, they’ve incorporated a premium for alumni members (the exclusive opportunity to win the Hawk Shop gift certificate), communicating even in this small way the value of the UIAA membership.

We spoke to Dylan Hendricks, UIAA Web Editor, to find out the goal of this online campaign, the response so far, and what advice he has for other alumni programs who might take a similar approach.

What is the goal of the campaign? The primary goal is to grow our social media following on Facebook and Instagram, to encourage alumni engagement through social media, and to promote alumni membership.

What response have you seen so far? Overall, people have been very excited about our giveaway. This is the third year that we are running this campaign, but the first that we incorporated Instagram. We thought people would enjoy showing all the ways they show their school pride, and we have been thrilled with the results so far.

What advice would you offer to others considering a similar approach?

  1. Make sure the prize is really something your alumni want or need—we have always had success with working with local partners to sponsor our giveaway, which allows us to offer a better giveaway package.
  2. Make sure everything you are doing is mobile friendly. This year we have seen a large spike in the number of alumni who are engaging with us primarily through their tablet or smartphone.
  3. Focus on one segment as your ideal target audience. Our giveaway is open to everyone, but we added Instagram this year as a way to try to engage with more young alumni. We have been more than happy with the response.

Need to Track Your Alumni Instagram Account?
BWF social media consultant Justin Ware says: “Measure, measure, measure. No social media strategy is complete without the ability to test your activity. To do so requires access to useful and meaningful metrics. For Instagram users, a good and affordable (free) option is Statigram.” Read Justin’s intro to Statigram on BWF’s Social Philanthropy Blog.

@WorkingOrange – How to Manage a Higher Ed Twitter Account

Alumni Career Services on little to no budget? Here’s one FABULOUS thing you can do.
Our colleague Justin Ware uses the Syracuse University @WorkingOrange account to illustrate 3 tips for managing your Twitter account.
Bonus: We love their content! Syracuse’s Career Services department runs the @WorkingOrange account. They feature a weekly alumnus who guest-tweets about their careers and industries throughout the day. Lots of activity and interesting content for the online alumni audience.

The Social Side of Giving

@WorkingOrangeProfilePicIt’s an age-old (in social media time) and still relevant question – “what do we tweet?” The easy answer is, “something that’s useful, valuable, and fun for your audience.” For a specific example of a Twitter account that covers those three things and more, check out Syracuse University’s @WorkingOrange. The @WorkingOrange Twitter account is run by Syracuse’s Career Services department and is awesome, because…

First, it provides valuable information about a hot topic, especially for younger grads. Those of us who work in higher ed know there’s a lot more to a four-year degree than simply landing a job. That said, it is a big reason why many people attend college. Which means, finding a good and rewarding job is part of the “product” that colleges and universities offer. And successful brands provide adequate stellar customer service around their products. In large part, that’s what this Twitter account amounts…

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A Sweet Day for Alumni Engagement and More News and Ideas for Your Alumni Program

Valentine’s Day Is a Sweet Time to Engage Alumni

Loyola University Chicago sends Valentine’s Day greetings to college sweethearts, reaching out to alumni who met on campus.
Cornell University invites alumni to share their “Big Red Love Stories” on a special alumni webpage, with over 160 postings to date.
University of Missouri-Kansas City asks alumni to “Be Our Valentine” and make a donation to the alumni fund in honor of a loved one.
Kent State University created a Valentine’s Day video greeting card with a link to upcoming alumni events.
Rhode Island School of Design hosted a”Some Day My Prints Will Come” Valentine gathering at an alumnae’s local letterpress studio.

In the News

Relax! You’ll Be More Productive
How do you stay energized and innovative in the fast-paced environment of alumni engagement? This New York Times article offers tips and strategies for getting more done, in less time, more sustainably.

MSU-Mankato Alumni Relations Office Sells a Piece of Campus History for Legacy Scholarship Fund
The Gage Complex on the campus of Minnesota State University-Mankato will be torn down this summer, and Alumni Relations is commemorating the event.

Does Alumni News Drive Alumni Engagement?
Ryan Catherwood of Washington and Lee University offers a different viewpoint on alumni news, suggesting ways to drive engagement by using stories that compel future action.

Alumni Relations Benchmarks Study Released
Primary Research Group released the results of a study based on a survey of 89 American colleges and universities. The survey covered such topics as participation rates of alumni in alumni activities, trends in staffing, and how alumni officials spend their time.

5 Ways to Build a Partnership between Alumni Relations and Annual Giving

Alumni relations and annual giving can be a perfect match. If these units embrace cooperation and collaboration,  the university’s alumni engagement efforts will be more seamless and donor-centered.

BWF’s Heather Greig shares 5 ways these external relations units can work together to increase their effectiveness in alumni engagement.

In addition to Heather’s suggestions, consider these managerial approaches to strengthening the partnership:

  • Explore areas of overlap that can strengthen each unit, while bolstering the efforts of the other.
  • Define the expectations for your partnership; agree on what each unit will contribute, and follow through on that commitment.
  • Educate your staff on the unique role each unit plays in achieving the common goal of advancing the university.
  • Build in opportunities for ongoing communication, making sure goals and interests are still understood and aligned and that collaboration is active and dynamic.

Heather Greig is an annual giving consultant with Bentz Whaley Flessner and author of the AnnualGivingInsights blog.

Saying Thanks: One Powerful Resolution for Your Alumni Program

thankyouYour staff team, and other university partners, bring to life your organization’s strategic plan, vision statement, and calendar of events. Taking time to demonstrate your appreciation for their efforts can have a powerful impact on your alumni program. 

In this video, BWF consultant Margaret Sughrue Carlson shares ways to turn the spotlight on others with a simple and sincere thank-you.