When done right, alumni relations is a much bigger picture than donor fundraising. While philanthropy plays a big role in alumni management, it isn’t the only time your institution should be interacting with the alumni community. Those who have attended your school in the past and their families already have an emotional connection to the success of your school.
The goal of alumni management is to foster relationships built on that emotional connection to support the school’s needs. Unfortunately, many schools get slowed down in the administrative work while losing progress with their alumni. Here are some tips for unburying your alumni relations staff and building a stronger community.
Automate with the Right Technology
The digital transformation has reached all corners of the business and academic worlds. So, the first step in boosting your productivity is to let the machines do what they’re designed for so that you can spend your time doing the human work that requires emotional connection and creativity. Use templates and software to quickly distribute communications via email blasts. Embed forms on your website to collect demographic information from alumni, or collect data updates via a directory like Wavelength. Set up automation to send out surveys whenever specific activities are performed.
While you could curate a collection of individual software tools that will effectively achieve the same thing, there are software solutions uniquely designed for alumni relations that offer all the right tools using fewer platforms. This means that you will spend less time learning different programs while enjoying the ease of access to integrated data.
Related: Maximize Development Goals with Data
Focus on the Right Activities
Technology can only take you so far. If you don’t prioritize your efforts, you could still be burying yourself in work that doesn’t deliver on your objectives. That means that you need to identify your key performance indicators (KPIs), tie them to measurable goals, and then begin tracking the data to let you know how well you are doing.
Every activity that your alumni relations staff spends time on should be moving the needle towards achieving a defined goal. For example, if you want to increase philanthropy by 10% by engaging alumni through various engagement channels, you’ll need a lot of data. But more importantly, it needs to be good data. If you’re spending hours calling or emailing an alumni list with outdated contact information, you won’t get very far.
However, employing a system to keep track of your alumni contacts with centralized access can significantly cut the wasted time by providing your staff with accurate, current contact details from the beginning. Having a system that allows alumni to update their information for you, is even better. Give your alumni a reason to update their data and you’ll have up-to-date information from the source itself.
If doing what your team has always done is working, then you likely wouldn’t be looking for tips to cut the administrative load. So, it’s time to try something new. Take an approach that provides better control and access to information for the entire team, shaving time off of everyday tasks, building greater efficiency.
Wavelength is an integrated technology solution that helps you make sense of data, engagement opportunities, and internal resources for A+ alumni relations. Learn more today.
Access to Clean Data and Real-Time Reporting
Key decisions should be data-driven. This means that if you are deciding whether to hold an in-person fundraising or engagement event, you need to set goals based on past performance and focus your time and energy on the most lucrative events. This goes beyond a feeling or an impression because we don’t balance budgets based on our gut. When discussing spending real-world money, we need to make pragmatic decisions based on financial realities.
This is another big benefit of using centralized alumni management software. As your team gets comfortable integrating data collection activities into your everyday workflows, all the information you need is a click away. Software solutions can provide real-time data reporting that lets you make a few selections and display data in a digestible and easy-to-reference format.
Using a platform that also allows alumni to engage with one-another will provide you data and activity tracking that can influence future alumni engagement opportunities. Are your alumni trying to network with each other? Are they reconnecting with classmates or seeing who lives nearby them? This data tracking should help you plan relevant alumni programming.
Suppose your school has always focused on measuring alumni relations success solely based on dollars donated. In that case, advanced reporting metrics can be an eye-opener to all the many opportunities that you may not be taking advantage of. Alumni engagement comes in many forms, including philanthropy, volunteerism, experiential engagement, and communications. All of these pillars represent alumni that have an affinity for your organization and are willing to support it in one way or another. This also means that they are open to suggestions for how to show that support.
Related: A Quick Exercise in Problem Solving
Final Thoughts on Saving Admin Time
There will always be some level of administrative burden in alumni relations. But your human talent should be focused on the types of work that take advantage of their skills in communicating, connecting, and creating opportunities to cultivate your alumni network. More and more organizations rely on Technology and self-directed user data entry methods to automate their administrative work. Hands down, machines excel at collecting and organizing data. But they don’t excel at the skills that growing your alumni community truly needs. So, Technology may be the key to easing the administrative burden, but it is far from a replacement for human talent.
Wavelength provides software that makes it easy to track the administrative side of your alumni relations efforts so that your team can focus on what’s important. Learn more today!