What Alumni Really Want

Christina Balotescu

November 14, 2013

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

Colleges today are becoming more and more tech savvy. Degrees are becoming more accessible and more advanced. But what additional, supplemental value are colleges providing beyond graduation? How can universities expect continued donations from alumni when many of these former students are still indebted to the school, and receiving no new resources?

It seems simple: provide value beyond graduation and alumni will give back. But Generation X’s idea of value may not quite align with Generation Y’s. When I graduated with a bachelor's from Mount Holyoke College, I was placed into an alumni program that is better than most, but still doesn’t meet my needs.

It is not social. I can’t easily look up people in my area and see a photo, and pertinent information. I can’t post or find jobs. The interface is outdated, and therefore minimally used.

Here’s what I want from an alumni relations program. In exchange I’ll gladly give back year after year:

1. Visual Alumni Directory

I want to know about people before I reach out to them - to put a face to a name, see what they talk about, see what matters to them. See what groups they are a part of. Much like LinkedIn, but I want to go to a smaller, private, dedicated alumni community where I share the same educational background as everyone else.

2. A Great Alumni Job Board

I want to both post positions, and see opportunities. Many alumni are very happy with their alma mater and would like to recruit there. Please don't direct me to another site where I must register with a 15 character password and wait 21 days before admittance. Make it easy for us. 

3. Alumni Chapters, Class & Affinity Groups in one place

Let me create custom groups that are as broad or as targeted as my heart desires. I want to segment by location, gender, graduation year, interests, and more, and easily email members. The focus of the site should be networking, not fundraising. That will come later.

4. An Easy to Use Alumni Directory  

Give me as few mandatory fields as possible to register, and the opportunity to add more information later. Give us an alumni network that is easy to navigate and fun to use. When I reach out to alumni on Facebook or LinkedIn, I lose that warmth and spirit that could be cultivated and shared if I were to reach out through our alumni community. Give us one central place for alumni networking that we want to visit - a place that is truly useful and fun.

5. Soften the Asks for Alumni Giving

Please balance value delivered with asks for donations. It's a great idea to integrate giving opportunities into the alumni community where we get value from the network we invested in. And let us choose which causes to support. I'm not compelled by the mysterious “annual fund”. Show us what our donations have achieved, and how we made a difference.

If your platform incorporates these elements, you’ll see not only increased donations, but greater goodwill and enhanced networking among members. This leads to more buzz and eventually more applications. Alumni relations is one big piece of the fundraising puzzle, don’t let it fall by the wayside.

Looking for a change? Contact one of our representatives today at (203) 253-5860 or schedule a demo and see what 360Alumni can do for you.

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