The most important goal of every college or university is to prepare its students for a fulfilling career and productive life, employability being the mission of most educational pursuits. Once the students depart from the institution, alumni engagement is the key to leveraging the power of alumni. The lack of alumni management is a mammoth lost opportunity for the institution.
Alumni are a pride to the institution because of their possible successes and contributions in the real world. Isn’t it important then to leverage their valuable worldly lessons and use them as a yardstick to measure the institution’s effectiveness? In today’s world that offers an assortment of available technologies, it is easily possible for any institution to make an earnest attempt to connect and engage alumni.
Alumni engagement for a college or university requires thoughtful planning, sustained outreach and building reciprocal relationships. A solid alumni network platform can easily become the fulcrum of the well-being of the school by being made to feel that they are trusted insiders who can shape the future of current students. There is no doubt today that colleges and universities are scrambling for resources and in that context, what’s a more valuable resource than their alumni to help face some of the institution’s challenges.
The college or university should make the first move and take the lead in building a culture of alumni engagement. The institution should be clear about channelling the energies of alumni in areas that would be mutually beneficial and where assistance from the alumni community would make the biggest difference to current students.
The following can easily fit into the scope of alumni engagement opportunities offered by universities to their alumni today, and an effective alumni CRM is the key:
- Opportunities for alumni to keep in touch with their peer groups through events virtual communities and share memories and opportunities through online channels, job boards, etc.
- Continuing education programmes for working adults, especially with the wide availability of online, hybrid, part-time and executive programmes
- Alumni networking for career progression or tapping into each other’s knowledge
- Alumni can actively participate in the admission process of their university, both to refer new students and interview prospective students
- Career counselling for current students, mentor them toward their career goals, offer internships through alumni corporate network
- Stay connected to their subject or field of interest and with teaching staff involved in such programmes
- Staying up to date on university happenings with a stream of information such as alumni journals, newsletters, social media announcements, etc.
- Advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the institution
- Alumni can mentor current students in their fields of expertise
- Alumni community created to cover specific areas of interest to share valuable information
- Last but not least, contribution to college fundraising efforts.
If the institution successfully strategizes and comes up with a plan for creating an environment for the alumni management to meaningfully participate in the institution’s activities, achieving the goals stated above is not a challenge given today’s technology environment.
A college-branded mobile app as part of the alumni CRM would be an easy way to get the alumni to participate. In their busy world, alumni will feel empowered and easily connected through a mobile app. The app should not of course, be the only way for the alumni to connect with the college, but also for alumni to connect with their peers effortlessly through a portal, using communities and forums. The institution should be able to plan and execute alumni networking events, be able to organise, invite, register, etc., with fundraising as one of the possible objectives. A job board is an important engagement feature for alumni to post and find jobs. Mentoring current students is an important role for alumni, and this can be accomplished through the chosen alumni CRM, besides being able to offer internships and jobs to current students.
The alumni community very often goes untapped, resulting in missed opportunities. Needless to say, there is increasing competition for alumni and donor contributions, with state funding and giving levels on a constant decline. For the alumni engagement mission to be successful, the directive for alumni management strategy should of course, come from the top to effectively permeate through the whole institution.
Engage2Serve is a global provider of Higher Education student lifecycle solutions, enabling institutions to build meaningful, personalised relationships with students via digital empowerment and best practises that enhance recruitment, student success and advancement. e2s Connect from Engage2Serve is designed as a mobile-first, modern alumni engagement product meant to address today’s institutional challenges of connecting with their alumni.
Engage2Serve Inc. is the creator of transformational cloud-based, mobile-first Student Lifecycle CRM products for student recruitment, retention, and alumni engagement.