Ever wondered whether there is a correlation between the level of how much a school invests in engaging alumni and donor participation rates?
If you ask most education institutions, they will probably answer yes, there is a correlation: that volunteers make their best donors.
However beyond that, it appears difficult to state the exact correlation and in particular the direction of any causation.
Are engaged alumni more likely to become donors or are donors simply more likely to be engaged alumni?
A recent case study of Tulane University’s on-line alumni directory and general alumni network provides us with more insights on this correlation. (Disclaimer – their network is powered using alumni software from my company Graduway.)
Please take one minute to watch the case study below of the success that they have achieved engaging alumni.
Of all the wonderful statistics shown in the movie of Tulane University success at engaging alumni, there was one number that stood out for me.
Christine Hoffman, Senior Associate VP for Individual Giving at Tulane University said regarding the 10,000 alumni using their on-line network, ”Over 50% of our alums using the platform are donors. That is a significantly higher number than our overall donor participation rate.”
Over 50% is an astonishing figure.
Especially when there are a very large number of alumni using the platform.
The Tulane University case study I believe is critical for alumni relations professionals everywhere.
Often we are asked to make a ‘return-on-investment’ argument on why an education institution should invest in alumni relations. This used to be an incredibly difficult thing to do until now.
Tulane University’s example is to show the massive value of every school investing in their alumni relationships irrespective of the direction of the causation between engagement and financial giving.
In a worst case scenario, they have invested in building a career community that is disproportionately valuable to their donors. 5,000+ of their donors are using the platform.
In a best case scenario, they are directly contributing through their alumni engagement to deepening and widening their relationships.
The old question of, can we afford to invest in alumni engagement, is being replaced with a new question, can we afford not to?
I would welcome your thoughts.