From the Nominator
"Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) launched an alumni community census and created data demographics reports designed to help the NAA obtain a more complete picture of its increasingly diverse alumni population. With a better understanding of who alumni are and how they identify, the NAA can better provide more meaningful programming to those who may have been under-represented/served and personalize communications as it broadens its reach to alumni globally.
Guided by the NAA’s core values, this initiative is just one step along the way to ensure that the NAA is a welcoming and inclusive community for all alumni. NAA staff conducted benchmarking, engaged key campus stakeholders to identify work-arounds to store and report data within existing systems, and developed the census’s 10 questions. They developed a marketing/communications strategy and built strong “buy-in” from schools to help amplify the message/call to action. A pilot group of Northwestern volunteer leaders provided feedback during a “soft-launch” in mid-March 2021.
It was launched to all alumni in April 2021, with amplified communications continuing through June 2021 and remaining on the NAA’s DEI website. A goal was set to obtain 27,000 submissions. By July 2021, more than 21,000 alumni had submitted their census--about an 8.1% response rate. This provided data on race/ethnicity, and for the first time, on gender identity, sexual orientation, first-generation status, military service, and preferred language. Staff used this data to develop new demographic reports on all contactable alumni and for each of the school-specific alumni populations."
From the Judges
The scope of this project was impressive and the results demonstrated great success. We appreciated the potential replicability of this at other institutions. The cost, which was $0, made the return on investment noteworthy.