|29 Sep 2021
|Building Your Community
Alumni engagement metrics measure how connected your former students are with your institution. For many schools, colleges and universities, financial metrics such as donations are seen as the main metric to keep track of, but while financial support is undoubtedly important, there are other ways that alumni can create value for your organisation.
Based on the results of your metrics, you can plan goals and strategies to connect with alumni.
All engagement is valuable and helps to build stronger relationships with your alumni, but some forms of participation are a better indicator of the level of affiliation and can help you to identify individuals that could be asked to take the next step, either by donating or giving back in another way.
Many alumni relations programmes focus heavily on events, and for good reason; events are a brilliant way to speak to your alumni in person and learn more about them, as well as sharing information with them about your institution or campaign. Event attendees show a high level of engagement and commitment, and can be a great opportunity to collect donations whilst they are there, or further major giving conversations.
Mentoring is a fantastic way to encourage alumni connections, particularly between alumni at different stages of their lives who may not otherwise connect. Keeping track of those who have signed up to mentor others is a good indicator for alumni with some time on their hands who might like to get involved in other types of volunteering, such as careers talks or offering their professional skills to help with the running of the alumni association. Measuring those who have searched for & matched with a mentor is also a good mark of those who have gained some value from being part of your alumni community, and therefore might be more incentivised to give back in the future. Read our guide to getting started with mentoring for tips on starting your own mentoring programme, plus case studies from other educational institutions.
Your online community is a powerful tool for keeping engagement going alongside your events and communications schedule. It means that alumni can engage with you wherever they are in the world, and those that are logging in regularly are greeted with new content and members to connect with to remind them of the value of being part of your community.
Sending compelling email communications is a good way to supplement other forms of engagement, whether it's in the form of a newsletter or targeted fundraising ask. Your email open and click through rate will reflect how often and through which channels your alumni want to hear from you. Top tip: Use a consent check to ensure that your members don’t opt out of content they might want to hear about, by setting up different options for fundraising and general communications.
Content submitted by members, such as news articles, job postings or business directory listings, is a strong indicator of community engagement. Alumni see your community as a worthwhile place to share their experiences and opportunities with others, and have taken the time to submit content. Tagging members in content that they have submitted or featured in sends them notification when someone else engages with their work, encouraging them to log-in and respond.
Searching via the community directory and making connections is the ideal metric for community managers to measure networking opportunities. You can affect this metric by promoting your directory or asking alumni to share ‘looking to reconnect’ messages which can be viewed on your logged out homepage, to encourage those who haven’t yet signed up to do so.
Tracking the rate of posts on forums is a good way to measure the overall engagement between members on your community site. Whether it’s on your main community homepage, or within clubs and groups, forum discussions help your online platform to feel more like a community and less like a bulletin board where members are passively receiving information. You can also enlist the support of club admins to moderate forums and keep conversations going.
Alumni surveys are a great way to learn more about your alumni & their views on your institution. If an individual chooses to respond, it’s likely they are quite engaged with your organisation and might be willing to participate further by volunteering or sharing their skills. If your survey includes mention of fundraising, you can also find the individuals who responded positively to the idea of giving and target them with more information.
Connected alumni communities are impactful for so many reasons; now more than ever, people are finding reasons to connect virtually. Download the '10 steps to building better online communities' guide to explore how to manage, engage & grow communities, with advice from superstar community managers and useful tips to save time for your team.
Being able to measure the rate of engagement for different activities is important for any organisation that wants to get closer to its alumni - at a community and individual level. ToucanTech makes it easy to engage and track your alumni using an online portal integrated with a CRM & database, so you can always have the latest data to hand. To find out more about using a single system to track your donor and alumni data, contact the ToucanTech team.
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