It’s a new year and we’re all strategically trying to plan our activities according to our respective goals and targets. These are the first 9 of my 19 Advancement predictions – I would love to hear yours!
- Alumni Relations + Recruitment (Enrollment) – Alumni Relations programs will become increasingly and strategically linked to enrollment/recruitment outcomes. More and more institutions will mobilize their alumni army as Admissions volunteers to help recruit new students. Tuition revenue is critical.
- Alumni Relations + Career Services – Alumni Relations programs will establish closer partnerships with Career Services offices and break down the historical gaps that exist between them. I am talking about staff playing nice in the sandbox so that alumni and students can benefit from this obvious collaboration (but, honestly, this is pretty rare to find out there!). Register to the upcoming webinar, with Hassan Akmal of Columbia University, where we will discuss how Career Services and Alumni Relations can collaborate.
- Career Communities – Advancement professionals will learn the value of building a career community for their institutions. Alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff all play a role in helping to create this. It is not just about “career placement” (finding a job)… it is about launching a student on the right career trajectory based on their interests, skills, and experience supported by a network of people who support and guide them on their journey. Our new collaborative partnership with Career Services (#2 above) will be vital to this.
- Alumni Relations + Retention – Alumni Relations programs will become more strategically linked to retention efforts (partnerships with Student Affairs and Career Services for mentorships, internships, externship programs, etc). Keeping enrolled students enrolled (and paying tuition) will be another area where all institutions will need to use their alumni to have an impact. And, in this case, that impact is on the bottom line. For some institutions, this could mean the difference between keeping the doors open and going out of business.
- Value Added Programming – Industry based affinity groups will become (or stay) the rage for alumni programming. Class year and zip code (regional clubs) will continue to be less relevant. Professional industry sector (tech, health care, finance, entrepreneurship, etc.) will drive alumni engagement around communications, volunteerism, event attendance, networking, mentoring, and more. The big question is whether you have the necessary tools to easily segment your alumni. Do you work with an alumni management platform?
- To Pay or Not to Pay – I believe that dues-based Alumni Associations will continue to disappear. A few (very few) exceptions will stand the test of time for a while but we will see these continuing to disappear. When the best dues-based program in the country is at 23% (meaning 77% are NOT members)… the average dues-based program is in the single digits… and many of these programs hover around 1-3% of the alumni… it is clear that alumni are voting with their feet. Time for a new model that embraces ALL alumni as members of the alumni association.
- Amazon vs Pentagon – Websites, online communities, and all things digital will increasingly become more “Amazon” and less “Pentagon”. Security will always be important but user experience has a place too. We shouldn’t need launch codes to search an alumni directory! Add value and lower the barriers to engagement and alumni will… guess what?… ENGAGE! *** I am now officially on the “Most Wanted” list for all IT Security Officers and General Counsel!
- Data Protection – While the above is true, GDPR in Europe will bleed into our work globally – like it or not, data protection is coming. How we balance data protection and security with ease of use and lower barriers (see above #7 above) will be key to establishing, building, and maintaining relationships with our alumni. Is your alumni networking solution up to data protection standards?
- Integrated Advancement Models – Alumni Relations programs will continue to be more connected, integrated, and aligned with advancement programs. There is no getting away from it. The Alumni Relations industry will continue to have to show impact and ROI. *** To my AR purist colleagues out there… yes, I am talking to you Howard… there are definitely exceptions to my prediction but the majority of programs will need focusing on Advancement in order to survive.
Watch out for part 2 of this blog next week, for my next 10 predictions to complete the 19 for 2019.
Interested in hearing more? Watch GraduwayTV to learn more about trends in the world of Alumni Relations, Career Services and Advancement.7