Are Your Alumni Bored with You?

Kelley Jarrett 06.05.09

All signs point to yes….Since 2005, alumni giving have dropped each year while overall giving to higher education institutions has increased. Is there anything you can do to reengage these alumni? Of course there is – find your sweet spot. 

When you ask your alumni how they want to be contacted, how do they answer? 

Wait, you didn’t ask?  Well, there’s your problem. Alumni are more diverse than ever. The sweep of social networking has further divided the lines between alumni demographics, making them more and more set on how they want to be contacted.


While direct mail (snail mail) has its place in time, many alumni ignore direct mail pieces; what’s worse is that many more get frustrated by it. In fact, not knowing which demographic groups respond better to which type of communication can actually COST you money.


Did you know that young alumni have little interest in the alumni magazines – the same magazines that are the number one way colleges communicate with them? How much are you spending sending those gorgeous, 4-color print jobs out to all alum, not segmenting your correspondence? In fact, not knowing which demographic groups respond better to which type of communication can actually COST you money.

It’s time to get smarter and more efficient. 

  1. Make sure you are tracking how your alumni are responding to your appeals – by email, direct mail, in person or phone. 
  2. Begin segmenting by response rate and demographics. 
  3. Take measures to understand these market divisions. What age groups respond to what types of appeal – both from a delivery and tone perspective?


When you need to cut, cut based on how effective your communication is to each group (e.g. magazines to young alum).


Yes, it saves money. But it might actually do more for you – your alumni will start listening, realizing you’re talking to them how they want you to. Contacting them based on their preference creates less frustration and more engagement.


This is your big chance. Understanding the problem is half the battle. But, don’t just understand it, do something now to turn your alumni participation statistics around. They might be bored, but trust me, they want to be engaged…they want nothing more than to feel connected to you, their alma mater.


Understand their needs and engage them online and you WILL increase their participation and giving. 


How are you engaging your alumni online? Share your secrets with us by commenting below!


Stay tuned for the next installment of engaging your alumni in July!



2008 Voluntary Support of Education Report, CAE 

Inside Higher Ed Newsfeed

Tactical Philanthropy Blog

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