February 18, 2015

The Alumni Letters, Part One

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If alumni are important enough to ask for money from, are they important enough to your college to know how they feel?

Alumni Letters Part One

With graduation coming, it’s time to start thinking about the thousands of donors—that is, alumni—entering the workforce and about to be added to mailing lists.

Don’t forget that these recent students may be loaded with college debt and looking for their first full-time job. Making a donation to their alma mater is likely the last thing they’re thinking about.

“You never call, you never write.”

This is not just the cry of a parent to a college student—one you may have heard from your parents while you were in school—it’s how many alumni feel, particularly from community colleges. The alumni relations office has the privilege and responsibility of stewarding relationships with alumni, and nurturing the sense of community that was formed while a student was an undergraduate.

If alumni are important enough to ask for money from, are they important enough to your college to know how they feel? It’s important to understand what is meaningful to your alumni.

When was the last time you asked your alumni what their story is? What are you doing to make them feel like they are part of a community; that what is important to them is important to you?

  • When was the last time you were in touch with your alumni, and didn't ask for anything?
  • When was the last time you asked your alumni what they were interested in hearing about?
  • When was the last time your alumni heard from your college at all?

Consider a phased approach to your communications. Use design as the silent ambassador to nurture the relationship with the new alumni. A marketing automation drip campaign that lasts a full year would be a welcome relief to a recent graduate.

Think about their needs, not your campaigns. Encourage them, offer assistance and support to these men and women during the transition to the next stage in their journey.

Maya Angelou reflected “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How you make your alumni feel is what they will remember about your college.

Build on what you began while they were a student, the investment in the experience students had on campus (or online). Become a cause that matters to them. How they feel is what will create a perception in their mind and loyalty in their heart. That’s the foundation of your brand. Don’t squander it.

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