The Blue and the Gold (and the Green)
“One of the greatest aspects that we have as part of the Notre Dame development office here is that people who have graduated from this university have felt that their experience — their four years (typically) on campus — [has] been life-changing,” Nanni says. “A Notre Dame education is transformative.”
The role of the alumni association is to offer services that continue the high-caliber Notre Dame experience and help alumni better connect with one another and the university. To do that better, the alumni association selected the Kintera Sphere platform, an online alumni community product, and created Irish Online, an engagement center with social-networking functions.
Irish Online is a mentoring and career network that offers MySpace functionality, but better. It allows alumni to set up personal Web pages where they can post photos and list information about themselves and their interests, post and search for jobs, reconnect with fellow alumni they might have lost contact with, send and receive e-mail, keep up with alumni news, and track their giving history.
“I’m not much of a MySpace or Facebook user or specialist myself, but I have heard some people say that one of the challenges is that the community is pretty open; that is one of the things that gives it the strength and width and breadth that it has,” Bellairs says. “The downside of that is maybe there are people that are in that space that you don’t want to interact with.
“The neat thing about our platform is that it’s behind our login, so you have to be a registered participant in our community before you can get to that Notre Dame MySpace-like functionality,” he explains.
Christian Varano, regional vice president for Kintera, adds: “Social-networking capabilities are of great interest right now across the board. It’s the ability to connect in an environment where you know the people in that social network all have the one common bond with you — that you’re all alums from Notre Dame or parents or friends or associated with the university in one shape or form. It is capitalizing on the popularity of larger social-networking sites, providing that same kind of feel and same kind of functionality, except that it is posted, run and managed by the Notre Dame staff.”