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The Value of Importing & Adding Alumni Profile Pictures – A Case Study

Today’s alumni databases are flexible and built around the needs of their end users. Many educational institutions are taking advantage of this by uploading profile pictures into their database as a fun way to put current alumni faces to their names.

Profile pictures can be a valuable addition to your database as they provide a great visual connector between all of your alumni data fields. Many databases like Salesforce [1] make it easy to import and store profile pictures. You can also use third-party applications such as Jitterbit [2] and StarfishETL [3] or stand-alone platforms like LiveAlumni to help.

How the University of San Francisco did it.

Recognizing the value of importing profile pictures to enrich his alumni database, Alumni Engagement Director, Jay Dillon, looked at different third-party apps that he could use to import the pictures into their Salesforce database but eventually settled on using LiveAlumni for the task.

Using the LiveAlumni Advanced Query Builder, he built a query to export Constituent IDs and alumni LinkedIn photo URLs to a CSV file.

The next step was to create an online cloud storage account where they uploaded all the photos and then renamed each file to contain the corresponding alumni Constituent ID. The in-house IT team then imported the photos into their Salesforce database by using the Constituent IDs as a reference point.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are multifold. Different departments have different needs, but they can all take value from the addition of alumni pictures.

Development Office: Every development officer can relate: that awkward moment where you are finally meeting face-to-face with your prospective donor after months of emails and phone calls. The problem is that, even though you have been communicating with this person for a while, you not sure what they look like! Having the current profile picture of your alumnus on file means that they don’t have to spend extra time on research.

Careers Services: LinkedIn research shows that a page with a profile picture is seven times more likely to be viewed than a page without one. [4] As such, a professional picture can immediately help the career services office give a potential employer a stronger impression of the alumni candidate they are trying to match for the job or internship program.

Alumni Office: The addition of profile pictures in a great way to visually enrich your online alumni directory. Note: A directory that is pre-populated with as much information as possible also tends to encourage alumni to self-update and fill in any missing data points.

Institutional Research: Each year, Institutional Research Departments gather data on recent graduates for annual outcome reports. These five and ten year reports monitor the employment and post-baccalaureate education of undergraduate alumni. Articles with visual images are read 94% more often than those without them, [5] so adding profile pictures of some of the outstanding alumni in addition to the normal tables and graphs may help.

Now that you see how helpful and easy it is to enrich alumni data by importing their profile photographs, the question is, what are you waiting for? Join the growing number of Higher Education Institutions adding alumni profile pictures to their database!


Sources & Additional Reading

[4] 7 Rules for Your LinkedIn Profile Picture, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Careers Services


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