Successful Alumni Relations Best Practices
A new year, a new chance for everyone working in the world of education to take their alumni interactions up a level or two and implement a successful alumni relations strategy. But where to start?
I recently heard a fascinating expert panel discussion on global best practice in alumni relations and advancement at the Graduway Global Leaders Summit, held at the Said Business School, Oxford University.
What emerged from the discussion was not just what successful alumni relations best practice looks like today, but critically what are the key questions every institution should be asking and trying to address as they enter the new year.
The panel was chaired by Chris Marshall, Vice President at Grenzebach Glier and Associates, and included a panel of distinguished experts and global thought leaders including:
- Elizabeth Crabtree, Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Resource Development, Brown University
- Jane Szele, Director of Alumni Relations, Saïd Business School
- Rod Lohin, Executive Director, Rotman Alumni Network, Rotman School of Management
- Michael Osbaldeston OBE, Director of Quality Services, EFMD
- Raphaëlle Gautier, Marketing and Development Director, HEC Paris
Click on the video below to see the full recording of the panel discussion.
I have taken the liberty of summarizing what I think were five of the most important alumni trends / alumni relations best practices that came out from the discussion so that you can benchmark your own school’s progress.
- Fund-raising vs Friend-raising – the borders between alumni relations, development and communication are fast fading as schools take a more integrated approach to their alumni. How integrated is your school’s approach to your alumni?
- Measuring and tracking alumni engagement – if schools are going to be successful in advancement, then they need to at least capture and measure data on their key performance indicators. This would probably be not just donations, but would also include broader engagement metrics such as event attendance, surveys of goodwill towards your institution and volunteering metrics. Has your school defined its key engagement metrics and tracks and measures them consistently?
- Global vs local approach – schools need to determine based upon their scale, strategy, and alumni concentrations the best approach to engaging alumni and whether a global or local/chapter approach makes more sense. Has your school aligned on the best approach to meeting the local needs of your alumni wherever in the world they are based?
- Culture of alumni engagement – successful institutions are building today, while students are still on campus, the alumni culture that they would like for the future. Is your school making steps today towards building a long term culture of loyalty and engagement with alumni?
- Alumni affinity – schools are now looking at new ways to engage alumni by broadening traditional affinities beyond class groupings to include in particular more career and professionally relevant affinities. Has your school started to provide an offering to alumni that addresses their career and professional affinities? Does your school have alumni career services?
The panel discussion raised intriguing questions for virtually every school, irrespective of their size, location or level of sophistication, on what best practice looks like by beginning to ask the right questions.
What did you learn from the discussion? Do you agree that these are the critical questions that need to be asked? Did our experts miss anything?
What are the key trends that you see and are looking to apply and turn into your successful alumni relations best practice in the new year?