What To Think About When Planning an Online Community

Christina Balotescu

November 29, 2023

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

Launching or upgrading an alumni engagement platform or a membership management solution is a pivotal step toward fostering meaningful connections and nurturing a thriving community. As you embark on this journey, consider these vital questions to ensure your platform aligns with your goals and maximizes impact.

1. Defining Success Metrics

  • What are the precise objectives of your initiative, and how do you plan to measure success in years 1, 2, and 3? Is it through account activations, group activities, fundraising achievements, job postings, or poignant connection stories shared?

2. Integration with Donor Management

  • Will you integrate your platform with a donor management system to streamline donation tracking and management for enhanced efficiency and transparency such as Salesforce or Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge?
  • Learn about 360Alumni Data Exchange & Integrations click here

3. Leveraging Features

  • How will you leverage mentoring, fundraising campaigns, and paid memberships within the platform to drive engagement and support?
  • Have you considered creating a promotional plan for each feature? 
  • Can you bring in other stakeholders to drive engagement in different areas of the community from a diverse range of people with different needs?

4. Involvement of Groups/Chapters

  • How do you plan to assimilate diverse groups or chapters into the new community? How will you engage leaders and class agents, ensuring they comprehend their roles in nurturing this centralized community?

5. Senior Leadership Involvement

  • What strategies are in place to ensure senior leadership has an active and visible presence within the community, signaling support and fostering engagement?

6. Data Integrity

  • How accurate and reliable is your contact data? Have you taken proactive steps like email validation to clean up data before launch, ensuring effective communication and engagement? 
  • Steps like email validation and deduplicating records can ensure you have a complete lists for each cohort and will help you make your alumni community your living breathing system of record for many years to come.

7. Ongoing Population of New Classes

  • Do you have plans to systematically load in each new graduating class to sustain a consistent influx of engaged members?

8. Domain Structure

  • Will you opt for a standard domain structure like org.360alumni.com or invest in a custom URL to align with your organization's branding and strategy?

9. Budget Allocation

  • Have you secured a budget, both for software and human resources, to ensure the sustainability and success of this program over a 3-5 year horizon?

10. Optimal Contract Term

  • What term duration best aligns with your goals and budget? Consider the offered discounts on a 2-year or 3-year prepaid agreement for financial feasibility.

Whether you are looking for membership management or alumni engagement, the platform you choose should be the central hub for connections, growth and opportunities. Answering these questions can help ensure you achieve your goals and surpass your user’s expectations, driving remarkable community nurturing and long term success.

For further insights and guidance, explore 360Alumni.com, a platform that exemplifies best practices in alumni nurturing.

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