In 2012 while in grad school I was figuring out the next steps in my career. Knowing that developing relationships with like-minded professionals with a common educational experience would be incredibly helpful, I attempted to tap the network. I was assured by my alma mater of "the power of the network" from day one, but it took so much effort to actually utilize it.
The alumni directory was static and limited, and the community was fragmented at best across LinkedIn, Facebook, and disparate mentorship and career programs.
Having planned several high school reunions, I wasn't shy about tracking people down. I copied 50 emails one by one off each profile of alumni near me in related industries, and sent them a message. Half bounced, but the other half was very interested in connecting - this outreach was local and relevant. So we moved from Gmail to Evite, and shared our bios on a Google doc for pre-event networking.
Unbeknownst to our alma mater, fourteen successful and engaged alumni came to the 'hyperlocal happy hour' where incredible new relationships were forged: one alum hired another as a consultant, two started a new venture together. And although two of alumnae had known each other for years through their kid's sports teams, they never even realized they went to the same school. They made the connection that night.
Our alma mater wasn't present for any of this engagement. They didn't really facilitate it. But it happens all the time. And they missed the opportunity to engage these enthusiastic networkers as volunteers.
To boot, I polled the attendees afterwards:"If the school had appropriately engaged you after the the event, how likely would you have been to donate?" Every single one said "Highly likely".
Educational and nonprofit organizations miss opportunities every day to deliver the value of their network, serve their alumni better, and build goodwill. The result? Scholarship dollars are unavailable. Applications are down. Programs are pulled. Career connections are never made. Affinity diminishes over time.
After extensive market research and product development, 360Alumni's all-in-one alumni engagement and fundraising platform launched in late 2013. Every day, in organizations of all shapes and sizes, we see goodwill growing as a result of organic, authentic human engagement.
By providing the tools your alumni need to maximize the networks they've invested in, you can create ongoing value and get better outcomes when you "make the ask" - however you make it.
- Christina Balotescu, Founder & CEO
Celebrating my 20th Mount Holyoke Reunion with College President Sonya Stephens (center) and friend, mentor and fellow CEO, Jodie Morrison (right).