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Alumni Outreach & Engagement

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A Campus Away From Campus
CURRENTS Article Helping online students feel connected to your institution is a major challenge for engagement professionals. In 2015, the Penn State San Diego alumni chapter created an "adoption" program to engage the hundreds of virtual students in its neighborhood and make them feel part of the Penn State family. The chapter assessed its ongoing programming to see how it could include and assist San Diego-area distance learners. It offered the students free membership, invited them to a networking event, sent encouraging notes during finals week, and hosted a family-friendly afternoon holiday party.

An Emojional Connection
CURRENTS Article In 2017, school spirit is spelled out in emojis. As alumni's relationships with their alma maters go digital, institutions have started branding their own emoji keyboards. Emojis, GIFs, and stickers that come in keyboard packs are great for repping an institution on Facebook, Twitter, and via text messages. But having branded emojis doesn't mean spamming the internet with icons of your mascot making goofy faces. Institutions have to be strategic about their icon designs and rollout to get the most out of their media.

The Matchmaker of Silicon Valley
CURRENTS Article Dee Dee Mendoza works in development, but she thinks like an entrepreneur. As managing director for West Coast advancement for Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, she teams with alumni volunteers to host the Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in San Francisco, an annual event for networking, sharing ideas, and learning from speakers such as PayPal Chairman John Donahoe (Class of '82). A recent survey from the Entrepreneurs' Organization, a global network of more than 10,000 business owners, found that 81.6 percent of respondents were interested in starting a new business. With entrepreneurship on the rise, Currents asked Mendoza for her insights on building relationships between entrepreneurs and institutions and what she's learned from working with more than 500 company founders.

Volunteer by the Minute
CURRENTS Article No time? No worries. Longwood University has found a way for busy alumni to volunteer in 15-minute bundles. The Virginia institution asks graduates to give one hour a month, and alumni can contribute anytime, using any device.

Copy and Share Everything
CURRENTS Article Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary helps prospective students envision their place at the Kentucky institution; the University of Melbourne's advancement staff members create short, informal messages to prompt alumni recipients to update their contact information; and Miami University's Snapchat newsletter releases a Snapchat story filled with images of event fliers and details for activities happening on the Ohio campus each day.

Talking Shop: We’re All Ducks
CURRENTS Article Vu Le is the brains and comedic voice behind the Nonprofit with Balls blog. As an executive director of a nonprofit, Le often writes from the perspective of a grantee, producing no-nonsense articles such as “9 annoying nonprofit trends that need to die.” His Seattle-based organization, Rainier Valley Corps, trains people of color for nonprofit leadership positions, so he has lots to say about improving diversity.

Access and Allies
CURRENTS Article While universities in Scotland—and around the world—are eager to take advantage of these kinds of missions, they are often hampered by limited resources and can struggle to draw enough alumni to North American events to make the planning and effort worthwhile. These institutions have discovered that joining forces—with each other, the government, and private organizations—is the key to building a more effective international alumni engagement program.

Alumni Appreciation on Social: 3 Tactics
Article,  BriefCASE Article When it comes to alumni engagement and ultimately donor stewardship, never underestimate the power of surprise swag.

Endowment Growth Stays Average, but Giving Continues to Rise in 2016
Article,  BriefCASE Article The rate of growth for endowments of U.S. colleges and universities maintained an average rate in 2016, according to the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. The 805 U.S. institutions that participated collectively reported an average return of -1.9 percent for fiscal year 2016 compared with 2.4 percent for fiscal year 2015.

The Great Alumni Hunt Continues: Student Sleuths Track Down More Alumni
Article,  BriefCASE Article A collaborative effort between one institution and its foundation netted hundreds of newly found alumni and stronger communications between faculty and advancement staff.

Time to Pause
CURRENTS Article Project Pause, developed by two Northwestern University alumni, is a mentoring program that offers seniors a chance to take a break to ponder their future, with the aid of young alumni, before embarking on the chaos of their final year.

A Narrative View
CURRENTS Article Whether it's to honor loyal donors and volunteers, showcase alumni achievements, build trust and intimacy within your community, or tap into nostalgia, telling alumni stories can be a powerful way to engage and enlighten your graduates. But alumni stories don't have to just be profiles in the back of the university's magazine. They can take many shapes and serve different purposes.

Aligning the Satellites
CURRENTS Article See if any of these situations sound familiar: Your alumni association staff emails alumni the same week that athletics sends out its annual appeal. A faculty member hosts a group of former marching band members, but no one takes pictures. The challenges of campuswide alumni engagement can be tricky, and without a strategy, you can duplicate efforts or miss opportunities. The result? All your efforts are sinking into a black hole. Does your central alumni office know how your campus units, departments, and offices talk with alumni? Are faculty and staff informing you of interactions with alumni? Do they understand your alumni association's goals and messages? If you cannot answer these questions—or you don't like the answers—then it might be time to reassess cross-campus collaboration. Here are some ways to energize and revitalize your alumni engagement efforts.

When Your Alumni Council Is Wilting
CURRENTS Article In 2011, the Alumni/ae Council at St. Paul Academy and Summit School in Minnesota was nearly nonexistent. Other than holding monthly meetings and a lackluster fundraising phonathon, the council sponsored no programs or events; it did not follow its bylaws and had no reporting structure or processes for recruiting new members. Most of the 11 council members were suffering from volunteer fatigue, particularly the president. Few members attended meetings, which were unproductive. The council frequently discussed the need to recruit new members but never developed an action plan. In short, it was time for a change.

Loved, but Lost
CURRENTS Article Your lost alumni have become untethered, drifting away from their beloved campus, and you're not sure how to bring them back. Some don't update contact information when they relocate; others ignore your correspondence because they think you only want money. Still others might like to reconnect but don't know how or are too busy to realize they haven't heard from you. Search-and-rescue attempts aren't easy. Tight budgets don't help, nor do increasing numbers of graduates, many of whom hop jobs and locations early in their career. But even with these challenges, institutions are designing affordable, innovative campaigns for finding alumni who could become a valuable part of the college's mission. Here's what you can learn from them.

Grateful Graduates
CURRENTS Article Colorado's Craig Hospital, which specializes in treating brain and spinal cord injuries, invites former patients to a block party that builds on the close relationship hospital staff develop with patients. The party helps to connect graduates with patients who are experiencing challenges that come with a disability, from walking and balancing issues to financial burdens due to medical expenses and loss of full-time employment.

Do Traditions Matter?
CURRENTS Article Illinois State University's traditions website features 15 traditions that combine the best of the 159-year-old university's history, student life, academics, and athletics. The goal is to improve alumni engagement, encourage philanthropy, and "reflect what ISU strives to be" by identifying the university's traditions, which include places, activities, and historical events, and making them a core part of ISU's culture.

Amazing Alumni Spaces
CURRENTS Article Whether it's historic or modern, intimate or enormous, a good alumni house enhances its university's culture and caters to alumni needs. It can be the backdrop of a memory-making wedding photo, the scenic start of a tour, a place to recharge school spirit, or a cozy nook for relaxing. Here are seven noteworthy alumni spaces that will impress you with their backstory, technology, collections, and character.

The Good the Bad and the Easy
CURRENTS Article We need to create sensible and effective metrics standards for alumni relations. We need standards and policies to help us benchmark our efforts across institutions—not just at our own. But how do we corral the herd? Let's look at the good and the bad in alumni relations metrics.

Door-to-Dorm Service
CURRENTS Article For freshmen transitioning to college life, care packages invoke a feeling of home.

Spring 2015
CURRENTS Article A 25-year-old assistant director of alumni relations shares the lessons learned during her first year at Williston Northampton School.

To Affinity … and Beyond!
CURRENTS Article Universities are becoming more involved with niche affinity groups that either speak to postgraduate professional and personal interests or hark back to those nostalgic memories. Finding those pockets of alumni can boost engagement in ways that hosting class reunions may not.

Making Transition a Tradition
CURRENTS Article The ways alumni associations welcome their newest alumni can set the stage for a lasting relationship.

Game Plan
CURRENTS Article Your alumni are begging for something fun that will grab their attention. Let's look at ways your university can dust the stuffiness off of its giving campaigns and attract the attention of long-lost alumni.

Liberal Arts & Alliances
CURRENTS Article Arts and sciences colleges tend to be the largest on campus, but the extensive donor base doesn't usually translate into the biggest gifts. Colleges and their donor bases are not identical. This means that liberal arts colleges need to take a unique approach to alumni engagement and development. The strategy also requires new talent management policies and cross-college collaboration.

Identity Crisis
CURRENTS Article Whatever the intention behind an institutional change, straying too far from the identity former students grew fond of can alienate and anger your biggest fans.

Outlook: Solicit Behavior
CURRENTS Article Dealing with alumni who don't want to be contacted seems uncomplicated. Yet the process isn't as simple as it seems. The do-not-solicit policy at many colleges and universities is imprecise and can undermine your institution's culture of giving—and lead to the loss of big gifts. It's time to rethink the do-not-solicit policy: Does it refer to all communications or just some? Is it temporary or permanent? Who has the authority to classify alumni that way? When do we re-engage alumni, and how?

Play Makers
CURRENTS Article Alumni officers need to invest in family-friendly programming to stay connected with young alumni. But it's not as simple as hosting a children's carnival at your next reunion. This articles covers key strategies for success.

Foreign Service
CURRENTS Article Are you looking for new ways to involve your international alumni in the life of your institution? CURRENTS examines the specifics of engagement initiatives at the University of Toronto, the University of Queensland, and London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, among others, and offers recommendations that other institutions can implement.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Article,  Community College News Article Community colleges leaders should recognize the importance of using different engagement and cultivation strategies to reach and garner donations from different generations of alumni, says a leading alumni relations practitioner.

Recruit. Retain. Repeat.
CURRENTS Article Gone are the days of volunteers responding in large numbers to an institution’s blanket request for help. Free time is in short supply today, and your alumni and other stakeholders who are considering a volunteer opportunity want assurances that their time will not be wasted. How do institutions recruit and manage volunteers in this environment? One piece of advice: Find the right person for the job, and be clear about expectations.

Time = Treasure
CURRENTS Article Advancement leaders should promote and recognize nonmonetary contributions and alumni engagement the same way they do financial gifts. Many institutions understand the need to find, train, evaluate, and retire volunteers, but few spend time creating the case for participation, setting and communicating alumni volunteer goals, making a targeted ask, and acknowledging services rendered.

Track Alumni Engagement to Improve Outcomes, Speakers Say
Article,  BriefCASE Article Tracking alumni engagement can help alumni relations offices make better decisions, educate and build buy-in from campus leaders and deploy resources more effectively, according to four alumni professionals who are collaborating to explore tracking models.

Wicket Ways
CURRENTS Article The yearly croquet match between St. John's College and the U.S. Naval Academy engages the community and both institutions' stakeholders.

Alumni to the Rescue
CURRENTS Article The oldest alumni association on record, the Williams College Society of Alumni, was founded in 1821 to support the institution during a time of economic uncertainty. Nearly two centuries later, the organization still takes to heart its mission to protect the college through service and philanthropy.

The Pages of Time
CURRENTS Article Three graduates of Whitman College organized the Whitman College Letter Project, which used the personal correspondence of students to tell a history of the institution in the 1960s. The project was inspired by a presentation by a noted professor during their 40th class reunion in 2011.

Alumni Relations Pros Share Strategies to Triple Engagement
Article,  BriefCASE Article Institutions that want to significantly grow alumni and financial support must take bold, calculated risks, be authentic with alumni and communicate as much as possible with key constituencies. That’s the advice of two advancement leaders who will discuss their institution’s goal to double alumni engagement by 2015 at the upcoming 2013 CASE Asia-Pacific Advancement Conference.

Mascot Madness
CURRENTS Article Mascots can foster school spirit and energize sports teams but also can breed discord. Some schools have been challenged to replace controversial mascots while others have encountered resistance when introducing different mascot designs. Whether it's an adorable animal or a menacing vegetable, a mascot serves to keeps students, teachers, alumni, and fans engaged with the institution they love.

The Journey Is the Reward
CURRENTS Article The alumni relations profession has undergone profound changes in the past 100 years. As the field celebrates the centennial of the Association of Alumni Secretaries - a predecessor of CASE - eight alumni relations leaders share their thoughts about the challenges and opportunities the profession faces at the dawn of its second century.

A Vested Interest
CURRENTS Article A new endeavor recruits alumni to advance loans students at their alma maters need to stay in school.

Major League Bragging Rights
CURRENTS Article In competing to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field to start off one of two Chicago Cubs "Salute to the Big 10" night baseball games in October 2012, Big 10 alumni chapters in Chicago, including Michigan State University's Chicago Spartans, gained an attractive opportunity to engage alumni and demonstrate the benefits of Big 10 alumni networking to high school guidance counselors.

Office Space: Personal Invitations
CURRENTS Article The LGBT community is growing in visibility and formal acceptance. How can institutions better welcome and integrate this community into their educational advancement efforts?

Icing on the Cake
CURRENTS Article The University of South Carolina offers a wedding giveaway contest each semester. Current students, alumni, and children of alumni are eligible to win a free wedding, and a USC wedding planning class handles all of the decisions and details. Local vendors provide the dress, rings, flowers, etc., and the university's president, alumni relations office, and other campus departments have all been involved in the giveaway.

A TASTE for Adventure
CURRENTS Article Johns Hopkins University's Take a Student to Events (TASTE) program fosters informal relationships between alumni and current students. Alumni volunteers sign up to take individual or small groups of students on outings such as zip-lining, spelunking, job shadowing, etc.

Research Shows Alumni of Small, Private Colleges More Engaged
Article,  BriefCASE Article A recent survey on brand connection and affinity indicates that alumni of small, private colleges are generally more engaged with their alma maters than graduates of large universities.

Odds and Ends: Enthusiasm Required
CURRENTS Article In this interview with comedian Susie Essman of the show Curb Your Enthusiasm, Essman talks about her roles as a comedian, a supporter of arts education, and an involved alumna at her alma mater SUNY Purchase.

HBCUs Can Build Stronger Support through Faculty, Others with Vested Interest
Article,  BriefCASE Article Historically black colleges and universities that engage faculty, staff, alumni and other "vested" individuals in their overall fundraising efforts enjoy stronger giving and volunteer support. That’s according to three presenters at a recent CASE Online Speaker Series.

Advance Work: Better with Age
CURRENTS Article The alumni relations director at Siena Heights University created a new advisory group for former board members in response to their desire to remain engaged.

Advance Work: Powering Up
CURRENTS Article The United World College of South East Asia starts a robust alumni relations program from scratch.

Office Space: Foreign Affairs
CURRENTS Article As more institutions expand operations abroad, setting up satellite offices in various countries that have high concentrations of alumni makes sense.

跨跃孤洲
CURRENTS Article 邀请教授参与各种校友活动,不但能吸引更多的校友共同参与,还为校友会创造新的机会向校友宣传母校在科研和教学方面令人振奋的成就。然而,怎样才能让教授在校友工作中发挥更大的作用呢?校友工作者必须开拓新的沟通渠道,培养更紧密的合作关系,加强宣传校友工作对学校发展的重要性。

Island Hopping
CURRENTS Article Including faculty in various aspects of alumni programming can attract more alumni to events and provide the alumni association with another means to communicate the exciting research and academic offerings of alma mater. However, creating a larger role for faculty in the alumni association doesn’t magically happen. Alumni professionals must open new lines of communication, forge new relationships, and educate faculty on the importance of advancement to the institution.

Advance Work: The Eagle Has Landed
CURRENTS Article An international independent school has come up with an easy and relevant way to keep its alumni engaged. It involves a stuffed eagle, some pictures, and a blog.

Leveraging Leaders
CURRENTS Article This article discusses the University of California, San Diego Alumni Association's process for developing alumni leaders who donate their time, talent, and treasure to their alma mater, serving as catalysts for others.

Inner Workings
CURRENTS Article As alumni officers search for ways to engage former students, they often overlook opportunities to build partnerships that support the strategic initiatives of the institution, not just the alumni office. Alumni staff members at the University of Iowa medical school have found a way to meet a vital campus need with the Help Our Students Travel program, in which alumni host students who are traveling around the United States for residency interviews. The HOST program is just one example of how alumni offices can work in partnership with campus colleagues. Alumni officers on other campuses can develop similar efforts by examining the goals and needs of their institutions and examining how the entire campus can serve and be served by alumni.

One Craft, Different Cultures
CURRENTS Article More alumni directors outside North America are reaching out to their alumni audiences to encourage lifelong relationships with alma mater. However, these alumni directors face unique challenges. In Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia, school and university alumni often don’t have the tradition of giving to alma mater that’s a given in the United States and Canada. The institutions might not have maintained close ties with alumni, and poor record keeping can hinder relationship-building efforts. Some institutions' goals for alumni relations include encouraging continuing education and career networking by alumni as well as fund raising. Campus alumni offices also can become resources for groups of alumni who are more connected to each other than to the institution.

AdvanceWork: Double Duty
CURRENTS Article Many alumni organizations take volunteer service into account when hiring, and some urge employees to experience volunteering firsthand. For alumni officers, volunteering helps them to appreciate the time constraints volunteers face, to form realistic expectations of volunteers, and to understand what alumni look for in the professionals who manage their efforts.

All that Glitters
CURRENTS Article Profiles of selected 2001 Circle of Excellence winners, including alumni relations programs at Oklahoma State University, the University of Indianapolis, and Lake Forest College; communications programs or publications at Providence College, Hotchkiss School, Art Center College of Design, University of Natal, Carleton College, and Baptist College of Health Sciences; and development programs at Georgia State University, Lord Fairfax Community College, and the University of Utah.

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