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Making the Case for Funding Alumni Relations

Making the Case for Funding Alumni Relations

This blog will be making the case for alumni relations funding in higher education

The education world is under pressure.

Public funding is falling.  Tuition fees are rising.  Cost cutting is everywhere.

Yet I hear consistently from Alumni Relations professionals of how they are under-resourced in terms of both headcount and budget.  In fact some would go as far as to claim that theirs is the most under-resourced department.

In such a tough macro environment making the case for increasing funding is a challenge.

Speak to your Dean or Vice-Chancellor about increasing Alumni Relations funding and you may get a standard response that surely there are other more pressing and urgent areas for investment?

We seem unable to articulate clearly enough that Alumni Relations is an urgent priority and not a ‘nice to have’.

I think there are two main reasons why we are failing:

  1. Short-term thinking – education institutions need results quickly from investments they make.  Building your brand through your ambassadors is critical to the long term health of the school.
  2. Measuring the wrong things – the key performance indicators for leaders in education are usually student numbers, research or teachings scores and not direct alumni relations measures.

So what can be done?

One route is to rehash our old arguments of how Alumni Relations funding will improve enrollment figures, allow the selling of more executive education services, and of course lead to greater donations.

However I think it time for us to be a little more direct.  The old arguments are falling on deaf ears.

Instead, one measure your Leadership will surely listen to concerns ranking.

The good news is that the major external rankings are increasingly putting greater emphasis on alumni feedback.

For example, Bloomberg Businessweek requires 30% of its class to respond even before making it on their rankings.  The Financial Times alumni responses contribute a staggering 59% of their ranking’s weight.

So in short, when you are making that proposal to increase… yes, talk about the long-term health of the school and yes talk about enrollment and development.

But let’s be smarter.  Let’s talk about the short-term impact on rankings as well as the long-term brand building that will come from investing more.

I would welcome your thoughts.

Please also take a look at an interesting article called The Case for Mentoring. 

You may also be interested in How to Ask Alumni for Money.

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