Talk | Gena Glover, Heartland Community College
Updated: Oct 13
This talk features Gena Glover, Associate Director of Community Engagement from Heartland Community College. Gena came to the world of Higher Education after having worked for many years in fundraising and grant writing for the non-profit sector. She's been able to transfer a lot of that experience to her current role at The Heartland Community College Foundation as well as to her work connecting the college to the community and the community to the college.
During this Talk, Gena shares valuable advice for anyone working in the Fundraising or Alumni Engagement areas at Community Colleges or smaller 2-year programs. These schools face a unique set of challenges when it comes to alumni data enrichment and outreach. Most of the people that joined this Talk also work with small teams at similar types of institutions.
As with all our LiveAlumni Talks, this is a round table discussion intended to bring the LiveAlumni community together to share knowledge.
Featuring: Gena Glover
Institution: Heartland Community College
Title: Associate Director of Community Engagement
Occurred Thursday, March 25th, 10am Pacific Time / 12pm Central Time
What data to import when restricted to a specific number of records
Creating highly segmented portfolios of alumni to import
Targeting outreach campaigns by industry
Meeting alumni where they are today, not where they were when they graduated
Weekly alumni highlights shared on social media is easy publicity
LinkedIn URLs allow you to track your alumni and not worry about having to re-build relationships in the future
Gena started with the big question - how she and her team have pivoted to approach fundraising and alumni engagement during the pandemic with the help of LiveAlumni. While the school's Institutional Research department keeps a database with basic information on all alumni, the foundation uses a separate Raiser’s Edge database which historically has housed only donor data, so the majority of the alumni data from LinkedIn is not in their Raisers Edge Database.
Their first step was to decide what records they would import into Raisers Edge via LiveAlumni’s RE NXT API since they are cost restricted as to the number of records their Raiser's Edge subscription allows. To do this, they are working together with the LiveAlumni Support Team to develop a viable plan on how to move forward. This includes creating portfolios of alumni from lists they created in LiveAlumni of high-level individuals in specific industries.
Finding Opportunities in the New Normal
They used the occasion of Heartland Community College's 30 year anniversary as an opportunity to reach out to these alumni with a letter that included their annual report and student/faculty pandemic success highlights. It also included a personal invitation to meet with Gena virtually, which turned out to have a surprisingly high attendance rate because virtual meetings save people so much travel time to and from an in-person meeting.
These meetings included a virtual 3D rendering of their 10 year expansion plan. Some of the alumni were very enthusiastic about participating because the campus and program expansion will be filling a large need in their community.
When it came to building campaigns last year, Gena found it useful to create lists of alumni based on specific industries. The agriculture industry is very important in the midwest. So they built lists of people who not only have graduated with a degree related to agriculture but also those who perhaps studied another degree altogether but today are working in this industry. It's about “meeting your alums where they are today”. Some of these alumni were genuinely surprised that Gena and her team found them and reached out.
How to get Alumni to Identify with You After they Move On
One of the million-dollar questions that community colleges often face is how do you get your alumni to care and connect with you once they move on and graduate from another institution. Gena mentions that at Heartland they have found that those alumni who are active while on campus in different groups and committees form cohorts that seem to last for a long time. They begin by reaching out to these alumni because they are a “low hanging fruit”. To expand their reach even further they are building a mentorship program to connect alumni with students.
Participants shared ideas for engaging alumni. One school holds a community service day which brings staff, students and alumni together for social service projects. This not only helps the community but brings alumni back on campus. Another example is a Small Business Saturday where small business owner highlights get shared across social media in order to spread the word and help a little bit during the financial crisis.
Other successful virtual events are virtual book clubs, and beer wine and cheese tastings.
Finding alumni with mutual interests is very easy with LiveAlumni’s pre-generated reports that can be modified to filter for specific interests. Sometimes events can be segmented to attract a specific group of people (ie. beer and wine lovers) and other events should cover a broad range of subjects that are of interest to everyone (ie. financial literacy) Ultimately, the data itself will tell you what your alumni are self-identifying with.
Another great idea for outreach that was shared is blasting a quarterly newsletter that does not have to be not especially fancy, it can include a video message from the Dean, a few links to campus-related stories, an invitation to connect via LinkedIn, and an alumni highlight.
Small bytes of alumni highlights uploaded regularly are a great publicity tool for your institution because you give people a chance to tell their story which you are ultimately an important part of. The social media multiplier effect cannot be underestimated.
Encourage Students to Create LinkedIn Profiles as Soon as They Arrive on Campus
The importance of having students create their LinkedIn profiles from day 1 is also talked about. If a student leaves campus without a robust LinkedIn profile, they may well not add their community college to their education information in LinkedIn after they leave. LiveAlumni delivers LinkedIn URL’s so that down the line, even if an alumnus removes their community college from their LinkedIn profile, the school will still be able to track them. Without their LinkedIn URL, eventually, the work of finding and rebuilding those alumni relationships will be that much more difficult.
Want to watch more LiveAlumni Talks?
Gena is just one of many inspiring members of the LiveAlumni community who have been sharing their strategies. If you’d like to learn more you can (1) register to attend one of our future Talks or (2) watch recordings of past Talks.