September 10th, 2015
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4 Ways To Grow Your Alumni Association
All alumni association offer membership and raise funds for the school/college/university they are associated with. Most of these associations are independent, nonprofit organizations run by a handful of alumni. Other associations are closely connected to the alumni relations office and operate as part of alumni relations departments. Some colleges have both. Sometimes fundraising efforts are coordinated, sometimes they are disorganized, and other times there is a conflict between alumni and their alma mater. In our work of line we witness the good, the bad and the ugly of the business. Here are four ideas to grow your alumni association’s fundraising program.
It is important that there is open communication between alumni and college/school leadership. If you are leading face of the alumni association we recommend regular scheduled meetings with the dean/principal of the institution to foster a deep relationship. Learn about his/her vision for the institute and how alumni can help facilitate in some capacity. The key here is to find common ground for both, a mutually beneficial relationship. Learn what are the fundraising priorities and expectations of alumni as donors. Share concerns and interests of alumni. Of course there will be a difference of opinion on different topics, move beyond those to create a shared vision to bring together and benefit alumni, their alma mater and current and future students.
Don’t Confuse Membership and Fundraising:
Purchasing an alumni association membership is just the first step. Membership provides access to events, networking opportunities with other alumni and benefits such as discounts etc and this where most associations get tied up. Giving to your alumni association or to your alma mater through the association – is how you provide financial support for the institution and current/future students. If you are responsible for soliciting alumni, make sure you ask what your gift will support and make sure your solicitations communicate the use of funds. Let members know when are they supporting the association and when are they support their alma mater. Transparency is important to build good will and trust.
Before launching a meaningful alumni giving program be sure to sense the idea with a diverse group people. This will ensure you get a good feedback on feasibility and you will learn more about how people wish to be engaged, what they want to do, what is important to them and why they don’t give. Just because someone think it’s a good idea, doesn’t necessarily every alumni will give.
Engaging All Ages:
When engaging with recent graduates, encouraging them to give could be tricky and should be appropriate for early career salaries. Be aware of the financial impact on these alumni as it could be a reason enough for them to part away. Offer opportunities for engagement such as serving as a mentor, hosting events, or volunteering on-campus or local events.