When your students receive their diplomas or certificates, it doesn’t have to mean farewell. A student information system with built-in alumni management software can help your staff leverage alumni information to keep an open line of communication, manage donations, plan events and evaluate the success of these efforts.
Alumni can be one of your school’s greatest assets, serving as financial supporters, mentors, fundraisers, donors and brand ambassadors. But at many schools, the alumni relations office is a small team (or even a single person) tasked with keeping alums engaged and informed. With thousands of graduates in your database, that can be a big effort.
To keep grads engaged, your school needs modern tools to maintain alumni records, manage communications, and solicit and process donations and gifts. An alumni module can do all these things for your school while also helping other departments on campus that interact with graduates.
Why It’s Important to Keep Track of Students After Graduation
Successful grads are the best advertisement for your school. After earning their degrees, they go on to build careers and set down roots in their communities.
Alumni are walking examples of how your institution prepares people for the next phase of their lives. When you engage with alumni, they can make meaningful contributions across campus.
In this post, we will cover:
Ways Alumni Can Contribute to Your School
Your alumni can be your school’s secret weapon. They can make financial, professional, and personal contributions to help your school grow and prosper.
But in order for your school to activate your alumni in a meaningful way, the alumni relations team needs tools to manage, organize and process alumni data.
A student information system with alumni management software helps alumni teams manage, organize and share information on alumni, including contact information, employment history, current position, and their involvement on campus and with current students.
The best part is that alumni relations staff can communicate with alumni directly through the SIS, with all communication being captured in a centralized CRM for users to see.
Monetary Contributions: Grads are Willing to Open Up Their Wallets
Financial support is the most obvious – and often the highest priority – way for alumni to support their alma mater. That money helps fund scholarships, building projects, research and campus operations.
The good news is that recent data show that alumni donations are up 10.2 percent in over the previous fiscal year (2021) according to CASE Insights on Voluntary Support of Education, which collects data on giving to public and private post-secondary schools.
Their research also shows that after several decades of decline, charitable giving to higher education institutions increased 12.5 percent for the fiscal year ending in June 2022, to $59.5 billion, compared with the previous fiscal year.
What accounts for the increase? In a recent interview, Amir Pasic, Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, suggested that the recent pandemic may have inspired alumni to support their alma maters. Other experts said aging Boomer and Gen X grads have more disposable income to donate to their former schools.
So how can your team use alumni management software to leverage this trend and activate alumni fundraising? Here are a few ways:
Annual or targeted campaigns: Some institutions need to raise money for a specific purpose, such as new construction or renovations. Alumni can make a one-time contribution or recurring pledge by responding to a campaign email or through an alumni portal.
Alumni gifts: Some alumni, particularly those with deep pockets, may prefer to have their donations earmarked for a specific purpose. Alumni gifts can go to scholarships, faculty positions, to fund a research project, or to name a classroom, lab or building.
Ongoing fundraising: These general, non-directed gifts help underwrite campus operations, construction, scholarships, renovations or any other need that arises.
Non-Monetary Contributions: Alumni Who Show Up
Not everyone has the ability to make a financial donation. Word-of-mouth recommendations and personal references are another way to build your school’s profile, especially in the local community. Here’s how to engage alumni without asking for money:
- Volunteer on campus and with committees
- Visit campus for reunions, summits and graduation
- Serve as mentors and career advisors for current students
- Visit campus to share professional and academic experiences
- Network with current students and young alumni to help build their careers
- Build local networks for recruiting and informational sessions.
Your alumni’s achievements are a positive reflection of your school’s contributions. And when you know where your grads live and work, you can leverage that information to help bolster your school’s reputation.
- Public relations: If a former student wins an award, secures a major promotion or accepts an important new role, that’s a chance for your school to issue a press release or post on social media. You can also highlight these alumni in marketing materials or invite them back to campus for appearances and events.
- School ambassadors: Alumni are market-facing representatives for your school. When your school is recruiting off-campus, activate your alumni to appear at events, such as college fairs, and interact with prospective students.
- Marketing and recruiting: Your alumni can boost recruiting efforts by exchanging emails and phone calls with prospective students, conducting interviews and appearing at on-campus events.
Improve Alumni Outreach Across Departments
A student information system not only improves alumni outreach efforts but also keeps information centrally available for all users so alumni don’t get spammed with too many emails or inundated with phone calls. Here’s how different departments on campus can use alumni management software:
Development and Giving Teams
An accurate alumni database is crucial to connect with graduates to solicit donations. With an integrated SIS, your development team can communicate through the platform, track interactions, plan campaigns and monitor giving.
Marketing and Recruitment
Who better to tell the story of your school than your successful graduates? Your marketing team can feature alumni in their marketing campaigns, social media posts, campus publications and collect testimonials.
From within the SIS, the marketing team can easily correspond with alumni, and plan and track campaigns with the built-in CRM. They can also evaluate the success of these efforts.
If former students need to access records, transcripts or letters of recommendation after graduation, the registrar can help. The registrar can fulfill requests directly from the SIS, saving time and streamlining communication.
Additionally, the alumni relations office can collect data on employment that’s needed for government reporting and accreditation purposes.
Benefits of Integrated Alumni Management Software
At smaller schools, the alumni relations department is a small team with limited resources. Even so, they’re tasked with the important role of keeping updated records, communicating with a network of alumni and raising money.
Alumni management software helps small teams capitalize on important opportunities by improving efficiency and collaboration. When the software is integrated within an SIS instead of a third-party application, it’s even more impactful.
An integrated SIS like Campus Cafe Software includes a built-in CRM that alumni staff can use to log and analyze their work. Through the CRM, staff can send emails and texts to alumni and nurture those relationships through regular communications. Those exchanges help build relationships and increase engagement.
With an integrated alumni CRM, staff can plan, manage and execute better fundraising campaigns. Additionally, the centralized information from the CRM is accessible to departments across campus, which helps improve communication and increase productivity when departments are working together, such as admissions and alumni relations.
An accurate alumni database allows your teams to produce more accurate reports. To stay compliant with state and federal regulations, schools may ask their alumni office to provide data on employment rates, type of employment or how long it took for graduates to find work.
Similarly, accrediting bodies may require your school to submit information on graduates for renewals or to qualify for accreditation.
One of the surest ways to engage alumni is to remove barriers to entry. With an alumni portal, grads can self-serve information and records requests. If the portal is easy to use, they’re more likely to update their contact information and share employment details.
A portal can also smooth the donation process. If popular third-party payment apps like Venmo or Paypal are integrated into the portal, that makes it fast and easy to click and give.
Finally, if your grads request transcripts and records through the portal, it reduces the workload on your registrar’s office and speeds up the process.
Build Community With Alumni Management Software
With an SIS and digital tools, the alumni relations team can strengthen ties with grads more efficiently. Small efforts go a long way to making alumni feel seen and heard.
- Send birthday and anniversary messages, and invite graduates to on-campus and local events, and upcoming reunions.
- Congratulate alumni on starting a new job or earning a promotion.
- Craft personalized messages asking for donations.
- Share professional resources, such as job postings and a directory of alumni to help with their ongoing professional development.
- Encourage graduates to share news for social media and alumni e-newsletters, such as job promotions and personal milestones.
The Bottom Line: Alumni Management Software Keeps Grads Engaged
Thanks to their time on campus, your alumni share a common bond. Grads can lean into the alumni network for networking, recruiting and social connections. This helps your school deepen relationships with its graduates.
With an alumni management system, your school can create a hub for alumni to stay connected and support each other. If there is an alumni directory, grads can easily share contact information. On message boards, alumni can post job openings or information on local events.
Through your SIS, these interactions benefit both your graduates and your school. When alumni feel engaged and active with their schools, they’re more likely to want to make financial contributions to support the institution.
Ready to see how Campus Cafe’s student information system with alumni management software can help your school turbocharge your alumni relations? Contact us for a demo to see how it works.