Constituents are Customers

Christina Balotescu

March 29, 2013

Many hands together with a heart painted on them, implying generosity

[2024 Update: While Millennials make up nearly 22% of the US population, a May 2023 article from Ruffalo Noel Levitz indicated that "higher education has not kept up with this rising tide of Millennial and Gen Z donors. The giving rate across higher education nationally is less than 8 percent for alumni less than 20 years out. Yet our research on young alumni giving shows that 81 percent of those same alumni prospects give to some charity every year. Institutions are converting on philanthropy with alumni at less than a one in ten rate."]

Alumni Fundraising is Everyone's Job

One way alumni relations teams can close this gap is by providing more value to alumni and staying relevant.

In a 2014 demo of 360Alumni's fundraising campaigns feature, a prospective client explained that he does not deal with fundraising and would not need that feature in his alumni engagement platform.

I wondered, “Isn’t advancement everyone’s responsibility in an institution?"  I quickly learned that it’s a matter of silos and culture, when he lamented their current giving rate of 3%.

But why would an institution decline opportunity to solicit donations in their alumni directory - the place where alumni can take full advantage of the network they invested in?

Delivering Ongoing Value to your Alumni

Many alumni pay student loans for ten years or more after completing their program.  If just thirty days have passed where they don’t feel they derived value from their investment, how will they feel when they make their monthly payment?  

What if they took a fundraising call the week before? When it's a one way conversation and the institution isn't delivering ongoing value to their alumni, many become shy to ask.

If your institution offers alumni the ability to find each other and connect on their own terms, their goodwill grows every time they are able to use their alumni network. Newsletters and social media are important, but a great directory with accurate, complete alumni data is an investment that keeps giving - both to the institution and to the alumni themselves.

It’s time to deliver more value to alumni, and make it a two way exchange.  For too long, too many schools have asked much and given little after graduation. By looking at alumni as customers, institutions can become conscious of the need to deliver value in exchange for the financial support they ask for.

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