A series dedicated to answering advancement teams’ questions. Bringing in experts to inspire new ways to approach alumni engagement, data management, marketing to constituents, and more. Wavelength simplifies alumni relations through better data, more engaged constituents, and easier volunteer management.
Advancement is looking a little different during COVID. Whether you are in person or working remotely, taking on new responsibilities when it is all hands on deck, or trying to maintain the same level of alumni engagement- here are just a few ideas to help get you through.
It is important to consider your data health and data needs when creating a strategy for your development and advancement teams. Your ability to engage with you constituents relies on up to date contact information. The 3 part webinar below dives into how to maintain and improve your data practices.
Ruthless Prioritization to Save Time and Maximize Your Impact
There are several great tools out there that help in strategic planning and project management. One exercise I find the most useful as a gut check before starting any new initiative is called the Impact Matrix.
An Impact Matrix looks into how much effort (time, money, software) is required to deliver on a project compared to the project’s impact, the influence it has on reaching your goal.
Your goal is engage with more constituents. You have have brainstormed several projects to reach this target including:
Host regional events for constituents in major cities
Develop optional remote programming for constituents like book clubs and speaker series
Mobilize volunteers by class year to develop class-specific engagement points and competitions amongst class years
After determining your projects, identify how much effort it would be required to complete the project followed by how much impact the project has on reaching your goals. Depending on your organization, you might rank each project differently from a peer institution.
You might find that you have 80% of your constituents within 4 distinct regions so it makes sense to host regional events as it targets a large number of your alumni. Meaning high impact (4/5), decent level of effort (3)
A peer institution might have a largely dispersed alumni base and instead, they are seeking remote opportunities. They’ve found that it is pretty easy to develop a speaker series and there is a solid level of interest. Medium-high impact (3) low effort (2).
Alternatively, you may realize that while you can develop a speaker series and a book club, your constituents are Zoomed out and aren’t looking for more screen time. Low impact (1/2) low effort (2)
Class loyalty may still run strong in your school and you could already have eager volunteers resulting in low effort (2) and high impact (4). Unfortunately, some schools might have a lot more work in finding volunteers and their effort on the matrix would be higher (4/5) with a medium impact (3).
You want to look for the sweet spot: the projects that have the highest impact while not overwhelming your resources.
Whenever you are trying to prioritize projects or determine what to do next, this quick exercise helps to identify your next steps providing you a logical path forward.
Anything you place in the dark green section should be top priority. The light green part of the matrix should be put on hold. The idea as it stands might not work. That can change, your constituents’ interests might shift, you resources could increase or you find a solution to save you time. Regardless, don’t toss those ideas, put them in a parking lot and save them for later!
With the current age of technology and screen time, distractions and multitasking is the norm. As a school, understanding how to engage with alumni meaningfully while setting proper expectations of what that should look like is necessary to reach your advancement goals.
The biggest challenge I see when schools are looking to engage with their constituent base is assuming their community will change their behaviors. Humans are creatures of habit, requiring too much deviation from their day to day may be a barrier to entry for your alumni base.
Two examples include:
Requiring an app to be downloaded for users to receive updates and community benefits.
App users spend 77% of their time on 3 apps and 96% on their top 10 apps. The top app usage for mobile users is seen below.
Adding a new platform of content delivery for users to check. Vying for attention on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram is tough , distractions abound but this is where your consumers are when they are seeking content.
Sproutsocial dives into the social media platforms and consumer insights for 2020. Bottom line: the largest engagement rate for Higher Ed is on Instagram.
At Wavelength, we believe in providing an alumni network that is there when and where your alumni want one. Your alumni may rely on their school’s network for a variety of reasons- reconnecting with old classmates, finding a favorite teacher, looking for a job, seeing who else lives in their area, scheduling mini reunions, etc. If you look at the list of examples I just provided, none of them are daily alumni needs. That’s ok! You want to provide a tool that will answer their needs when they have them. Providing anything more may go unused, require too many resources for your team to maintain, or overwhelm the user to the point of disengaging further.
If you’re curious about what your alumni are interested in, I always encourage the practice of asking- with a major caveat:
Understand the people you are asking feedback from are most likely closer to “super users” than what a typical alum engagement would be.
The Lean Six Sigma approach of asking the “5 Why’s” is a useful activity any time you are seeking solutions for engagement. It’s simple ask “Why?” 5 times.
When you are seeking new forms of engagement, always consider the resources it would take to maintain that engagement and whether it leads to reaching your development goals.
Wavelength provides a network for your alumni while simplifying your day to day by helping you identify better constituent engagement points, communicate more effectively, collect class notes, and so much more.