Measuring Alumni Engagement

Posted on 05/25/2016 - by Dan Allenby

Measuring Alumni Engagement 2Annual Giving and Alumni Relations are team sports. Unfortunately, there are plenty of things that can get in the way when they try to work together.

Sometimes the obstacles are organizational: the teams have different bosses, report to separate units or are located in different offices or buildings around campus. Other times, the obstacles are strategic: one team viewing its role as separate and distinct from the other’s. For example, the annual giving team might be focused on generating donors and dollars while the alumni relations team is concentrated on planning events, offering career and educational programs, and connecting alumni through online, regional or affinity networks.

Whether they realize it or not, annual giving and alumni relations teams ultimately share one common goal: increasing alumni engagement.

When people see value in an organization they’re more inclined to act when called upon to do so. In the case of educational institutions, alumni who see value in their alma mater (and/or in their association with it) are more likely to attend an event, volunteer, or make a gift. These actions are just a few of the many ways alumni can engage with their alma mater. The reason why alumni engagement is so important is that each of its forms can give way to another. For example, alumni who attend events are more likely to be donors, and alumni who volunteer for their alma mater are more likely to attend an event (and vice versa).

So how do successful annual giving and alumni relations teams work together toward the common goal of increasing alumni engagement? Start by determining how engagement should be measured; then develop a plan to increase it. Consider the following exercise as one approach:

  1. Pull a random sample of 200 alumni records from your database.
  2. Assign 1 point to each record when you see evidence of any of the following actions: attending an event, serving as a volunteer, making a donation.
  3. Sum up the total points for each record and assign an “engagement score” to it between 0 and 3.
  4. Calculate the median “engagement score” for the entire sample population.
  5. Establish a common/shared goal for the alumni relations and annual giving teams to increase the median engagement score over a one year period.
  6. Empower each team to develop strategies that increase the overall alumni engagement score by increasing all of the actions that drive it.
  7. Pull and re-score another random sample one year later to determine how the score has changed.
  8. Adjust your strategies based on your results and try it again next year. Good luck!

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Predictive Modeling for Annual Giving.