As higher education fundraisers, it can become tempting to see the tasks of our own departments as unique and separate from the rest of the school, but to our donors (past, present, and future) we’re all part of the same organization.
During a recent Hot Topic Webinar, Chris Alvarez, Associate Director of Alumni & Community Relations at the University of Redlands, demonstrated the value of helping other departments connect with alumni
During the webinar, Christ shared specific examples about how the University of Redlands has been using the LiveAlumni Incredible Prospects and Rating features to increase alumni attendance, identify “lost alumni” and re-engage those alumni for programs back on campus.
In their case, LiveAlumni has enhanced the way that the alumni relations and development teams are finding and relating to their alumni base.
Throughout his session, Chris shared several occasions in which members of the University staff assisted their colleagues in other departments by sharing what they uncovered as they learned more about their alumni or potential donors.
Not all schools do this because it’s time-consuming – but there’s so much value in the long run when different departments like Alumni Relations begin sharing information with Career Services, or when Career Services shares information with Development, or Development shares information with Academics.
Chris called it a “win-win-win.” The teams aren’t looking to meet their siloed revenue or engagement goals. They’re working together improve their University and help their alumni to feel a depth of engagement with their alma mater.
In some cases, it makes sense to connect the re-engaged alumnus with an academic office, in other cases, it’s time to make sure that a development officer can connect with an alumna. Whilst we recognize that these are different departments with different individual goals, to our alumni, everyone is simply part of their old school.
As Chris says, “The academics, the practice, and the alumni engagement, and philanthropy all roll together.”
Financial Returns of Collaborative Fundraising
While it’s a challenge to keep other departments in the loop with alumni engagement and fundraising, there are schools that have reaped significant financial returns from implementing this practice. Last month the University of Georgia unveiled their $63 Million stadium enhancement.
The updates included a 10,500-square-foot hospitality lounge that is used for hosting prospective student-athletes and their guests on game days, as well as a completely renovated locker and shower facility that is double the size of the former locker rooms. The fundraising that was needed to support this stadium enhancement was surely a result of the teamwork fundraising approach that the University has fostered for years.
In a 2015 interview, Jay Stroman, Senior Associate President for Development and Alumni Relations, emphasized the importance of collaborating and communicating throughout multiple departments in order to aggressively fundraise for the University of Georgia. Stroman emphasized the value of having multiple points of contact throughout the campus that can help identify donor interests and match those interests with their school’s priorities.
Schools of All Sizes Can Couple Technology with Teamwork
You don’t have to have dozens of teammates on your advancement staff to see the benefits of the features and queries available on LiveAlumni. During his webinar, Chris also demonstrated simple ways that the real-time data has helped his team reconnect with lost alumni and even informed them of where certain events and programs will take place to increase participation.
These objectives aren’t unique to large or small advancement operations. We are all working towards these goals.
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Sources & Additional Reading
 University of Redlands, Redlands.edu
 University of Georgia, news.uga.edu
 Senior associate vice president stresses teamwork in fundraising, Aaron Hale, news.uga.edu