Now a major issue for most of higher education institutions, fundraising is the center of concerns and alumni are just asking to be sought. The current situation is simple: most graduates in France are little or not solicited to give, while the majority of them would like to get involved and support their institution.
Lack of inclusion, weak connexions between promotions and school, discreet communication: explanations are not numerous. And yet there are many opportunities: alumni usually represent an important community in terms of members, ready to give and with the desire to keep the link with their school.
The challenge for schools, universities and foundations is to be clearly identified, to differentiate themselves, to engage, to solicit its members, and to create a lasting bond.
Building a strong social and professional network
According to a study by the Higher Education Research Institute, the motivations of students to pursue their studies are:
- To be able to get a better job (86%)
- To get training for a specific career (77.1%)
- To be able to make more money (72.8%)
Once they graduate, they expect from their school or university to provide them with exclusive career opportunities, mentoring or coaching and especially a powerful network.
The first step is to provide graduates with a space in which their sense of belonging can develop: a real social and professional network that will give visibility to your actions. In this personal and privileged space, the students and graduates will be able to multiply the interactions with the school which will foster commitment. This services provision is also an important factor to influence the ability and willingness of an alumni to give.
In a joint effort with its Foundation, the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin en Yvelines has created the “Cluster de Competences” (Skills cluster, cluster.uvsq.fr) in order to provide its students and graduates with a real space for exchanges and mutual assistance. The strategic objectives are common to the Foundation and to the University: qualification of data, identification and mobilization of ambassadors and major donors.
Think like an e-merchant
Now that the network is set-up, it’s time to think about turning community members into donors. To do this, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a true e-merchant
The first step is the qualification of the data: a good communication can not be effective if it is neither received nor seen. An alumni platform will allow your future donors to update their personal and business data in a few clicks, by importing their profile from LinkedIn for instance.
It is then necessary to analyze your audience, your habits and your professional needs, thanks to real time statistics by your alumni platform. This will make it possible to provide the right offer at the right time and potentially increase the donation. Finally, a key point of your strategy must be the identification and mobilization of ambassadors who will be powerful influencers to other members of the network.
Cross-selling is also an effective method of collecting donations: it is a matter of soliciting your members through existing baskets. The gift is then added to the purchase of a ticket for a paid event, goodies, a subscription, a magazine or a directory. Think also of proposing packs!
To conclude, it is important to keep in mind that the trigger of the gift remains the attachment and the desire of the graduate to give back to his school what it has given him: a career, a professional network and a life-long support. Having an alumni platform makes it possible by materialize this support and maintain a close proximity with its donors and alumni.
Deployed on more than 140 networks in France and around the world, AlumnForce is the web and mobile social networking solution dedicated to universities, schools and training centers to bring together students, graduates, teachers and recruiters. For over 9 years, our team has been supporting organizations of all sizes in the development of their alumni strategy. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org – +33 (0)1 83 62 11 83.