Connecting and truly engaging with alumni and prospective donors is never a simple task. It requires time and patience. Diligent research and intelligent outreach. More than anything else, it requires Colleges and Universities to know what their alums actually want to talk about. And during a global pandemic, that's become more crucial than ever before.
So, if the key to connecting with alumni is talking to them about something they care about and want to discuss, then for Higher Ed, it's simple, right? After all, these alumni once spent several years with you, dedicating all that time towards their degrees. Surely that means basing an engagement strategy around degrees and majors is a sure thing, right? WRONG.
Most graduates DO NOT end up in careers related to their degrees.
According to a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, just 27% of Alumni end up in jobs related to their degree field once they graduate. Now of course there are some degrees that buck this trend - medicine, perhaps.
But 27%! Let that number sink in.
And then take a moment to acknowledge that most of us know this already. Because we, ourselves, are not necessarily working in jobs related to our degrees. We're part of the statistic - or we work next to someone who is.
What does that actually mean for alumni & donor engagement strategies?
Well, simply put, it means that if you're sending an email, making a call or inviting an alumnus to an event based on their degree or major... it's going to be irrelevant to their current lives a whopping 73% of the time.
It means that an alumnus is more likely to ignore your outreach. More disconcertingly, it means that with every irrelevant communication, they become more and more disconnected from you, their alma mater. They start to lose their affinity to you.
By focusing on an alum's degree or major, what you're actually doing is accidentally sabotaging your own alumni and prospective donor engagement.
The solution? Focus on alumni employment!
The solution to this potentially catastrophic problem is actually totally obvious. What does your alumnus actually do? What is their current job? Do they work in sales, marketing, management, business or financial services? Talk to them about that!
It's what they do day in day out, so it's what they will inevitably be drawn to. An alumnus' current employment the single strongest piece of data that you can have to indicate what they may or may not be interested in.
And once you do make a connection, you can take it further by learning about their other interests and hobbies - do they volunteer? Are they sitting on any boards? The list is endless once the door is open.
But to get that door open, all you have to do is focus your engagement strategy and outreach around the one thing you know they are doing 5 days a week, every week, year after year.
Learn how other Higher Eds do this successfully.
We've been a partner of the Higher Ed community for almost 20 years and are currently working with Advancement, Development, Alumni, Database & Prospect Research teams at over 500 institutions.
If you'd like a free sample of the kind of employment data we provide to them or if you just want some insights on the strategies they use, we're happy to help.