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Engaging Alumni In The Wrong Order: What Are The Rules of Engagement?

Engaging Alumni In The Wrong Order: What Are The Rules of Engagement?

Most professionals working with alumni for an educational institution understand that you probably need to have in place three things to effectively engage your alumni on-line.

The issue is that most schools are engaging alumni in the wrong order by implementing three things.

What are those ‘three’ and what is the ‘wrong’ order?

  1. Data – schools usually build an internal database first to better manage alumni data.  e.g. The Raiser’s Edge, Advance, Salesforce etc.
  2. Communicate – they then build marketing and fundraising tools to better communicate and transact with alumni.  e.g. NetCommunity, iModules, Mail Chimp etc.
  3. Engage – finally schools build an on-line engagement platform where alumni will network and interact with each other. e.g. Graduway.

Although all three components are necessary, they are being implemented by schools in the wrong order.

Let me explain.

Firstly Graduway’s own research has shown that on average schools are missing accurate contact information (email addresses, phone numbers) for around 70% of their alumni.  You are not getting the full return from your new cutting edge database if you are missing so much data.  Your database is only as good as the data in it.

Secondly, the response rates to these smart marketing and fundraising tools is relatively low.  Again, you are not getting the full return from these amazing tools if your alumni are disengaged and unresponsive.

It all starts and ends with engaging alumni.

If you are successful in engaging alumni by offering a valuable career network and community for your alumni, then they will reward you with two things.

Firstly, the higher engagement will lead you to have more accurate contact information in your database.  The more engaged the alumni are, the more frequently their contact information will be refreshed, and the more accurate your database will become.

Secondly, higher engagement will lead you to have higher response rates from your marketing and fundraising tools.  The more value alumni get from being part of your network, the more responsive and willing they will be to give back.

Better engagement will lead to better data on, and better responsiveness from, alumni.

And what to do if you cannot afford all three tools and platforms?

I would suggest that engagement should be the primary focus.


Let me conclude by showing visually how the three work together in the case of Graduway’s preferred technology partnership with Blackbaud.

Engage.  Data.  Communicate.  

Let’s start engaging alumni in the right order and see the difference.

I would welcome your thoughts.


You might also like It’s Alumni Engagement, Stupid.


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