30 Minutes a Month
Finding new and innovative ways to engage graduates is a central focus of alumni relations professionals. Finding ways to engage graduates that also benefit the student population is the cherry on top. To that end, micro-volunteering is gaining popularity as a way for institutions to garner engagement while benefitting their campus communities.
“We use micro-volunteering to foster feelings of connectedness with our alumni and to identify and develop our supporters and advocates,” says Colleen Dunne, alumni programs coordinator for CQUniversity in Queensland, Australia.
The concept of micro-volunteering is based on the idea that people are more likely to volunteer their time in short, convenient increments and therefore a group of volunteers all completing small tasks can, together, complete a larger project.
Dunne learned about micro-volunteering at a CASE Asia-Pacific Masterclass in which the Longwood University’s 1 Hour a Month program was used as an example. She figured out how to adapt that program to fit with CQUni’s unique alumni and the university’s small alumni relations team of two full-time staff.
“Our graduates are dispersed across [Australia] and the globe, so we needed a program that could be run completely online so we could engage graduates no matter their location,” Dunne says.
CQUni launched its 30 Minutes a Month program in 2018 and the goal is to get recent graduates to complete a small task—something that takes approximately 30 minutes—each month from March to November. The tasks either contribute to the student experience or keep graduates connected with the university and consist of activities like writing blog posts, signing up as alumni mentors, creating profiles to be featured on the university’s website, and interacting with the institution’s social media channels.
Each month there’s one priority activity and if participants don’t want to complete that task there is a small list of standing activities.
“We understand graduates are time-poor so they’re not penalized for missing months throughout the program,” Dunne explains. “They can complete as many or as few activities as they wish.”
While some graduates do return to the program each year, it isn’t designed to be a long-term engagement with the university. Instead, it’s meant to introduce participants to alumni relations and move them through increasingly robust engagement levels.
30 Minutes a Month is automated through marketing software connected to CQUni’s customer relationship management system, which means there is very little administrative work that needs to be completed by alumni relations staff. Participants register online and are sent activity announcements and reminders each month.
Volunteers are rewarded with small university-branded items for completing one month, three months, six months, and nine months of tasks. Now in its fourth year, 30 Minutes a Month has had 406 alumni participants and resulted in more than 200 hours of volunteerism for the university.
About the author(s)
Caitlin Lukacs is the CASE manager of editorial content.