This statement is not just the cry of your great aunt, or of a parent to a college student—It’s how your alumni will feel when they begin to receive the campaign and donor appeals from your college or foundation if your outreach is one-sided.
People have a soft spot for where they got their start
The memories of an individual’s experience from a college or university is important to their life story. Their experience and memories become their own founder’s story. When you give them the opportunity to tell their story, they are also telling your story.
- When you do communicate with alumni, don’t just tell your story – create a story that others can tell for you. Make them part of your narrative.
- Stories are important, but relationships are what really matter. These aren’t alumni, or donors. They are people. How you communicate with them must affirm them, and appeal to how their experience with your institution impacted their goals, their dreams, their career, and their life.
How do your alumni feel?
In a recent conversation a young graduate said: “I don’t feel like an alumnus yet.”
To which the other person replied: “You will, after you start receiving the fundraising appeals.”
What kind of a relationship would you have if you were always asking your friends for money? If an alumni’s perception is that your institution is only interested in their money, it may take years to overcome that impression,
It’s important to be social. Everybody wants to belong. The sense of attachment that an individual has to a college or university will come from a sense of community. As an undergraduate, the sense of community was nurtured through shared experiences. Post-graduation, a community must be created that welcomes the individual, and allows them to continue to maintain a sense of connection to the college and to their peers.
Loyalty and relationships must be continually be nurtured through a program of communications and a platform for community. In particular, the Millennial generation is using technology “to connect with each other, accelerating the spread of information and increasing the influence of peer networks,” notes Katherina Rosqueta, founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alumni communication starts the day a student enrolls. The challenge to nurturing relationships with alumni is the same as the solution: a thoughtfully-designed program of communications. Not a marketing campaign, not a fundraising campaign, but a program design to nurture relationships, introduce, and connect your future alumni with your institution.