Alumni’s – a group of people who have graduated from an educational facility – are living examples of the success of an educational institution. They display the standards and are the benchmark for student expectations.
When parents make the final decision of where to send their children for higher education, it is the Alumni who demonstrate the final “product”; it is the Alumni who are looked to by parents and students when they are deliberating over an institution.
In addition, Alumni usually have a special connection with the school, college or university they’ve spent years with, and as a result, are likely to be some of its most loyal supporters. It’s wise for establishments to leverage that emotional connection with an alumni management program.
We’ll explain why and how in this article.
Why higher education institutions need Alumni management
#1: Leverage their expertise
An educational institution’s previous students are likely to boast a wealth of skills and experience that can be shared with current students via face-to-face or online talks, newsletters, etc..
In a strong alumni management program, this could be developed even further, with Alumni supporting students by helping to launch their careers, or providing work placements, which would be of tremendous benefit to the institution and students.
At the very least, Alumni may be willing to donate their valuable time to offer career support to current students through innovative schemes like a mentorship program, or other valuable opportunities.
These types of opportunities create a tremendous differentiating factor for establishments as well as students in today’s tough jobs market.
#2: Word of mouth advertising
64% of marketing executives believe word-of-mouth advertising to be the most effective form of marketing.
Without even focusing on creating an emotional connection, educational institutions already enjoy that as a benefit and should capitalise on it, as statistics show that brands, or in this case, colleges or universities, that are able to create an emotional connection, receive three times more word-of-mouth advertising than those that don’t.
Alumni who enjoyed their educational experience at your institution will naturally spread the word because they become automatic international ambassadors for the institution.
It would be wise to use this emotional connection strategically, to boost marketing efforts and recruit more students. It means a significant decrease in the amount of money used for marketing.
#3: Fundraising and sponsorships
Because of that same emotional connection to the institution, and their gratitude for their ensuing career, Alumni are often generous with fundraising efforts.
Financial donations from Alumni help establishments provide life-changing scholarships and bursaries to talented students who may otherwise have to give up studying.
Donations may also provide current students with advanced equipment and environments for teaching and/or conducting pioneering research.
How to develop an Alumni management program
How to develop an Alumni management program
While Alumni may carry an emotional connection to the institution that educated them, the establishment needs to create a strategy in order to leverage that connection.
You have to make it easy for Alumni to give back, and at the same time, offer them benefits of being in your network pool.
The steps to creating a strong program include:
#1: Implementing Alumni management technology
In order to keep track of student data, you have to use alumni management software like ITS Integrator, which allows for:
- Alumni’s to access information, and to easily find events on their dashboard.
- Institutions to record the student journey from registration to Alumni, as well as communicate to students through notifications, newsletters and email marketing.
- Organising Alumni meetups, and for them to stay connected to classmates.
- Jobs portal to connect recruiters to Alumni.
- Online forums.
- Event and fundraising management.
- Sponsor contributions.
The Alumni platform allows establishments to build a strong Alumni community.
It’s the tool you need to keep student data, and control engagement with your alumni and their complete experience with you.
When you use a branded Alumni online platform, it further strengthens the emotional connection.
#2: Strategise Alumni engagement
Optimising Alumni engagement means that you have to work at building high levels of trust, sense of pride and belonging.
A strategy to build trust, sense of pride, belonging and therefore high engagement levels can look something like this:
- Develop the institution’s social media program.
- Develop and manage a centralised calendar system as the primary resource for students and Alumni to check out what’s happening, and with the least amount of trouble.
- Award responsibility for website content development, social media and other online communication strategies.
- Award responsibility for managing the job portal to connect Alumni and recruiters.
- Generate a pool of opportunities for your Alumni, to keep them coming back and interacting with you.
- Assign responsibility for fundraising ideas that are fun and which add value to Alumni.
Make sure your Alumni platform is used as a hub for structured information and targeted opportunities that adds value to their lives.
- Ways to network with other Alumni
- Career and investment opportunities
- Access to the institution’s research
- Opportunities to either give back financially by sponsoring a student, equipment, environment or by offering some of their time in a mentoring capacity.