Do You Support Your Alma Mater?
In the last year or so, a friend who was having his 50th high school reunion asked me for advice on how to promote this reunion. He knew that I had worked at the University of Louisville, Florida International University, University of Charleston and Butler University.
He also realized that I was the alumni director at Florida International and Butler, so he felt I knew a few things about alumni relations and alumni associations. In my consulting role, I have also helped countless schools improve their alumni programs. Currently, my university alma mater would like my local group of alumni to re-engage with our university. That situation made me wonder if other alumni across the country are supported by their alma mater and vice versa.
Many attendees and graduates stay in touch with their school for many years after they leave campus, while others do not care to stay in touch. What would stimulate you to engage with your alma mater? Do they have to reach out to you, or can you reach out to them?
According to Red Brick Research, creating an engaged, supportive alumni network is crucial to an institution’s success. Good alumni relationships bring many benefits to both the institution and the alumni. An engaged alumni network allows a university to benefit from the experiences of their alumni and for alumni to support their institution. There are no better ambassadors for your university than your alumni. Alumni can also be an invaluable resource in recruiting quality students for their alma mater. Alumni can also help mentor current students and help provide jobs to them upon graduation. Technology is an easy way that current students can connect with alumni all over the world.
The top 10 reasons to support an alumni association, according to Alumni Channel Blog, are:
- Alumni networks can enhance recruiting efforts and boost the university image in a community.
- Well-informed alumni can be powerful ambassadors in civic and business communities.
- The organization is a natural advocacy group.
- The group develops a sense of community between current and former students, plus staff.
- Members provide an outside funding source.
- The database is a great resource for the institution.
- Key alumni communicators from the alumni are a great sounding board.
- The database is a resource for building business partnerships.
- Members can help establish programs.
- The association provides historical information and create anniversary events.
According UA Little Rock, alumni associations provide student scholarships, alumni recognition, society involvement, alumni networking, advance careers through mentoring, alumni events, membership benefits and savings, university and alumni information and volunteer opportunities. They also increase the value of a degree.
So, if you do not live near your alma mater and want to support it going forward, follow the Alumni Channel Blog and read its “How to Start/Create an Alumni Association.” The purpose of an association is to promote a spirit of loyalty and to promote the general welfare of your organization. Alumni associations exist to support the parent organization’s goals and to strengthen the ties between alumni, the community and the parent organization.
I also suggest creating a survey to ascertain the needs and makeup of your group. I encourage local participation for your alma mater in whatever manner is easy and supportive for you. Seek to determine if your parent university or college alumni association has a sound plan for local alumni chapter development. Make sure a representative from the college/university continually stays in touch with you for direction, encouragement and guidance.
Do you support your alma mater? If not, now is the time.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.