The amount of money contributed annually by alumni to their alma maters is astounding. For example in 2017, the amount was estimated at $50 billion and that number increases each year. It’s no wonder colleges and universities take alumni relations very seriously. Some of the top fund-raising institutions include Harvard, Stanford and Cornell who each bring in around $1.0 billion each year. Princeton, of course, is well known for their annual reunions, which are major festivals featuring popular bands, parades and fireworks. Over time, however, schools have begun adopting more technical strategies for capturing alumni dollars.
The best way to convert on alumni is to better track and monitor them, and software helps schools do just that. Better known as CRM for customer relationship management, software solutions that provide database functionality with communications management is a starting point. From there, features extend to donation coordination and fundraising campaigns. Other functionality such as providing schools the ability to organize events and reunions is also included in some alumni management platforms. There are approximately 50 different software solutions colleges can choose from.
Some of the more well-known solutions include Almabase, a comprehensive solution for managing donations, events and volunteering. It also syncs with Facebook and LinkedIn. NetCommunity by Blackbaud is also popular for the visibility and control it provides across multichannel marketing efforts. There’s also Salesforce for Education and Hivebrite, which is more general in approach enabling an all-in-one community management and engagement platform that helps build brand engagement and opportunities for a private community.
Perhaps most telling, however, is that sophisticated private equity firm K1 management recently invested $60 million in Graduway, which has over 1,000 customers in over 40 countries. Large universities such as UCLA, Johns Hopkins, University of Arizona and Columbia University use its services. The company is based in London and focuses specifically on alumni engagement and career services aimed at educational institutions and nonprofits. It helps schools fundraise, re-engage alumni and provide career guidance and mentoring. The new funds will help Graduway grow its footprint in North America and expand its product suite and customer success team.
In the world of alumni donations, schools are competing for the hearts and souls of alumni. It’s a daunting task when so many causes, whether alumni-related or across the non-profit universe, flood inboxes and mailboxes on a daily basis. But software, it seems can help schools cut through the noise and make the alumni management process more efficient.