Why Community Colleges Need to Prioritise Alumni Outreach

We hear it time and time again, community colleges don’t have the manpower nor the budget to track and engage alumni.

Often, the reason alumni aren not getting tracked is simply due to the common misconception that these alumni don’t feel tied to their community colleges and are therefore unlikely to get involved in any way.

Well, we have gathered plenty of relevant data to the contrary that suggests community colleges might want to reconsider reaching out to their alumni. [1]

Advantages that are often Overlooked

Research shows that community college alumni tend to work and live in nearby communities after graduating – this is a major advantage that smaller colleges have over larger 4 year schools.  Engaging them should therefore actually be easier for a couple reasons – including the fact that these alumni tend to feel more connected to their schools since they are often still living within the same community.

Northwest Technical College Foundation is a great example. “We know the majority of our graduates have stayed in the area,” said the director of the foundation, Lisa Bruns. She emphasises that in fact “People come to our college because they don’t want to leave the area.” So, when Lisa’s team began to compile alumni records for the first time in their 40 year history, they did so by contacting local businesses to help them find alumni and the success of this strategy gave them a great start to building their alumni database. [2]

NTC’s experience demonstrates clearly that, for smaller schools, public appeals can be a very effective way to find alumni within the community.

Updated Alumni data (or lack-thereof)

Alumni data is essential for growth. If you are qualifying your alumni with outdated data, you could be overlooking some important individuals.

People come to community colleges for a variety of reasons and generally their stay is short and they move on. It is often a stepping stone to something bigger – a four year degree, a masters, or perhaps even a PhD.

With updated data you can qualify alumni by who they are today rather than who they were in the past.

LinkedIn numbers don’t lie

When your alumni list your school in their profile, this is a display of loyalty and pride. Now, give them a reason to get involved. Find out what these alumni are interested in for more a strategic outreach campaign!

Paul Heaton, director of the Center for Community College Advancement at CASE, said “There are very clear correlations between how often a school communicates with and engages with alumni, and how much they participate, especially philanthropically.” [2] Perhaps all these alumni need is a little nudge to get started.

There are plenty of reasons for smaller community colleges to get involved with their alumni – to grow as an institution, to find more volunteers, to identify donors, etc. [3]

Sometimes smaller colleges lack confidence in their alumni. However reliable data can make all the difference when it comes to understanding the true potential of connecting with them.

Alumni Outreach Strategies

Wondering how you can get started with your outreach program? We’ve put together a one-page guide to show you how you can use LiveAlumni to help.

DOWNLOAD ALUMNI OUTREACH GUIDE


Sources

[1] Community Colleges Could Benefit From Better Alumni Outreach by Lee Gardner, The Chronicle of Higher Education

[2] Out of Thin Air, an Alumni Database, Case.org

[3] More Community Colleges Embrace FundRaising, Reconnect with Alumni by Larry Gordon, The Los Angeles Times

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