The Blue and the Gold (and the Green)
But Irish Online isn’t just a way to keep in touch with the younger generations of alumni. For Notre Dame, Web-savvy grads come in all ages.
“People think that only alumni within the last 10 years understand how the Internet works, and they’re the ones who are Internet-savvy,” Nanni says. “The class of 1956 has one of the best Web sites of any Notre Dame class, so it’s kind of fun to see how some things fly in the face of conventional wisdom.”
Irish Online also enables individual alumni clubs and chapters to set up consistently branded microsites that are connected to the alumni association site’s technology framework, with data flowing both up and down from the child site to the parent site, and vice versa. For example, the president of a local alumni club can access and manage alumni data and communications for the club. The microsites also offer the ability to do event registration, collect dues and sell tickets to events in a secure online environment.
“That is such a huge leap forward from the old days when you had to collect checks. You had to go to your computer, print out a document and then write a check, tuck it in an envelope and send it to somebody,” Bellairs says. “We think there are many people who probably did not participate in an event over the last year simply because it was kind of a hassle — they got used to one-click shopping on Amazon, they got used to buying something on eBay and going seamlessly to PayPal to pay for it.
“Taking the administrative hurdle off the table, we think that one feature alone will drive engagement through the roof,” he predicts.
With Irish Online’s capabilities and geography no longer needing to be the thread linking alumni to one another, the alumni association can offer virtual proximity and has been fostering the formation of affinity groups made up of Notre Dame graduates who are physicians, lawyers, journalists, members of the same class and even cancer survivors.