Currently, alumni, their friends, parents, grandparents and other family members receive a different stream of communications than do potential supporters outside that group, and there’s a concentrated effort to support alumni clubs that crop up around the country.
The alumni group gets a newsletter that’s different from the general one, as well, but that could change, since there’s a push to centralize the organization’s fundraising efforts.
“I think it’s advantageous for the full donor community to really learn more about the alumni and the parent network that exists, and learn more about some of the incredible alumni success stories that are out there,” Gordon says. “We talk about the power of service and the ability to change the world — what that really means is when all of a sudden you can start seeing what the alumni are doing today, after having that experience 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, and the work that they’re doing in transforming their own communities.
“Many are in nonprofits, some in the school system, some in business,” he says. “It’s really very inspirational.”
City Year tries to keep connected with alums from the very beginning so it doesn’t have to reconnect with them later in their lives and careers. To that end, it encourages alumni and parents groups, and has an alumni advisory board. It also offers the Leadership After City Year program, known as LACY, that helps volunteers network and integrate their City Year experiences into the next phases of their lives, whether that be college, grad school, career or additional volunteer work.
Staying connected, Gordon says, makes it easier to transition alums into donors when they’re in the financial position to give.
With 18 sites under the auspices of its national headquarters, City Year is learning that with growth come new challenges — branding, for example. According to Gordon, the organization already is fairly aggressive in policing the imagery and messaging used by the individual sites, but is about to get even stricter. The goal, he says, is to ensure that the City Year experience in one city is consistent with that in any city — and that they’re all good, of course.