At the most recent Global Leaders Summit, I had the privilege of hearing four world-class speakers present break-through ideas on the future of Alumni Relations in the digital world and discuss what digital Alumni Relations is. Each idea was driven by technology and social media, and impacted alumni relations, career services, or the advancement world in general.
You can watch the four talks in full below but this week I am focusing on Andrew Gossen, who is the Executive Director, Digital, Cornell University Alumni Affairs & Development and spoke about ‘Digital First in Alumni Relations’ (minutes 27-41) Discussing the future of digital alumni relations.
Andrew advocates that digital alumni relations has the potential to transform what we do – to take our alumni engagement efforts to reach not just the few, but the many.
This shift would result in alumni relations becoming more agile and opportunistic. And more de-centralized.
However, to get there requires a careful balancing act to combine the old ideas with the new technologies. It also poses a cultural challenge to education institutions in general, and alumni professionals in particular – can we make the significant shift in our thinking to embrace the concept of ‘digital first’?
As Andrew points out, we don’t want to lose what we have got but at the same time we need to acknowledge our current engagement efforts have a ceiling which digital can break-through.
And Andrew posed us with these questions:
How do we retain our existing programs that have served us well and fit digital into them?
If you were starting your alumni relations function today from scratch, how would the concept of ‘digital first’ change the way you structured your team?
What needs to happen to truly embrace digital in your programming?
In short, can alumni relations be digital first?
I would welcome your thoughts.