Bridging The Gap Between Institutes And Alumni
Students' ties to their alma mater are lifelong and do not stop when the student graduates and leaves the institution. Apart from getting gifts from former students, educational institutions that actively engage and manage their alumni reap numerous benefits. Most educational institutions, on the other hand, lack a strong alumni management programme. Let's take a closer look at the issues we face and how we can solve them.
Unlock the potential of alumni relationships by bridging the gap between institutes and alumni
Every year, a new batch of students step out from your institute, to go into the world and occupy important positions around the world. They are the alumni of your institution.
In other words, alumni are the torchbearers for the next generation, who can guide students about the industry, what employers are looking for and beyond. These alumni who are well-connected with their alma mater prove to be resourceful in many ways.
Naturally, the relationship between students and their alma mater is lifelong and doesn’t end once the student graduates and leaves the institute. Educational institutions that actively engage and manage their alumni have many benefits apart from receiving donations from their former students.
However, most educational institutions fail to have a solid alumni management program.
Some of the biggest alumni engagement challenges faced by institutions are:
Infrequent and random interactions
Often, institutions miss out on hearing what the alumni have to say. There is no feedback mechanism when it comes to alumni relationships and conversations, leading to a one-sided communication that is mostly driven by institutions.
Generic messages that do not add value
Have you been on the receiving end of generic and non-personalized communication from the institute you graduated from? Most probably, yes. Usually, most communications (newsletters, social media and website blogs) cover the achievements of the present students which the alumni may not be interested in.
Chances are, these messages do not add any high value to the alumni. Institutions need much more than run-of-the-mill promotions and messages to interact with their alumni meaningfully.
Currently, institutions use different platforms (social media, WhatsApp, email among many others) to communicate with their alumni. The process is not streamlined, so institutions fail to connect effectively with their alumni.
For effectively engaging alumni, you need to shift the focus to their needs. Your institute’s outreach will have to be relevant and valuable. In return, this will motivate the alumni to stay active, engaged and responsive to your institutional expectations.
3. Change in alumni expectations in recent times
From traditional ways of connecting with alumni through emails for donations and annual reunions, the expectations of alumni have evolved to a great extent in recent times. Today, alumni engagement needs to be omnichannel, round the clock, and personalized. But above all, they seek value and a better engagement experience.
Their interactions are no longer limited to donations. But what is most important here to understand is, do the institutions realize what alumni expectations are? Probably not. And that is evident from the fact that 95% of donations today come from 5% of the alumni, where the rest stay away from the institute they graduated from. This data alone presses a question that institutions need to ponder upon.
4. Identifying the gaps
For effective and better management of alumni relationships, institutions will have to identify the gap. Remember, engagement is not just measured by the number of alumni who donated or participated in the reunion, but by how they regularly interact.
For example, alumni might send a message to a faculty, visit the job directory, make an update in their alumni community, like a post on social media, or reply to an email. Institutions need to assess these communications and find out what the alumni are saying. What do they want to hear more about? Who is more likely to attend the next event or willing to donate?
When used correctly, your alumni community can deliver tangible and real-time value for both the present students and alumni. The question is, how can your institution leverage alumni relationships?
5. Actionable alumni engagement strategies bridging the gap between students and alumni
Events have always been one of the main alumni engagement programs. Institutions are now choosing virtual events to connect with their alumni. While meeting people in person will always be an unparalleled experience, virtual events have their benefits. The biggest one is its flexibility. Irrespective of their locations, alumni can join in virtual events and so institutions can expect a bigger turnout. Events like happy hours and social mixers are a big hit among alumni.
Almashines virtual alumni event platform (VAMES 2.0) provides an immersive experience of the virtual world for your alumni events. Functionalities such as online form registration, easy outreach, managing attendee profiles and end-to-end engagement are available within a single dashboard.
Upping your social media game
Social media has undoubtedly become a powerful medium for communication and building relationships. While regular mail can go unnoticed, young alumni usually notice the communication on social media.
Alumni engagement ideas could be sharing a class photo, or asking alumni to tag their favourite teachers.
Personalized engagement for different alumni segments
Personalization goes a long way in developing a relationship. And it’s beyond addressing the person by their name. To create a personalized alumni engagement strategy, you need to identify and categorize your alumni into different categories.
These can be:
Loyalists: They are still attached to the institute, high on energy, excited, and willing to give back to their institutions.
Hustlers: The millennials are getting ready to enter the workforce. If you are not connecting with them proactively, they are likely to lose touch as they have a wider vision beyond their alma mater.
Contributors: They are in the third phase of the alumni cycle and have settled with a stable job. They are now ready to give back as they now have the resources and power to support their alma mater.
Indifferent: Despite all the engagement efforts, there will still be a group of alumni who will drift away and be indifferent towards contributing to their institution. Your alumni engagement strategy should focus on converting these indifferent to loyalist groups.
Career support networks
A career support network is an excellent way for alumni to interact with the present students. These are practical and useful events that help present students to get mentored by the right person, land up jobs, and internship opportunities. With 21 million Americans currently unemployed, career support networks are now more relevant than ever.
Alumni management software
Organizations are investing in alumni management software to connect and manage alumni relationships.
The modern-day intuitive alumni management software is built to address the gaps currently prevalent between alumni and institutions. The alumni engagement platform helps to streamline communication, store and manage all the alumni details at a central repository. It helps alumni to engage in different forums along with parents and students, and much more.
Online mentoring program
Mentoring program is a great way to bring a lot of value to your alumni relationship. A physical mentoring program might not always be feasible as alumni have to find time to visit the campus, and with the ongoing pandemic. Digitizing the mentoring program means greater flexibility for alumni and students as they can participate in such programs from their homes.
6. Key takeaways
Institutions will have to rebuild their alumni engagement strategies such that they cater to the evolving needs of the alumni. This evolving landscape calls for the adoption of technology-driven strategies to identify the gaps in alumni relationships and bridge them.
Staying on top of effective relationships and communications can open up many exciting opportunities both for institutions and alumni.
Almashines, the leading alumni management software helps institutions streamline their alumni relationships. Schedule your free demo and know what you can gain by bridging the gap between your institution and alumni.