initiatives & other programs

Your Alumni Relations Secret Weapon: Professors!

From sports games to spur of the moment campus visits, it can often be hard for Alumni Associations to keep track of when alumni are back on campus.

Thankfully, your university has a small army of people who can help: Professors.

As you know, many professors do a great job of keeping in touch with their former students. Alums are likely to invite their favorite professors for coffee or lunch when they are back on campus. Some professors will even invite successful alums back to their classes to share their “real world expertise” years later.

For many reasons, alums are unlikely to inform the Alumni Association of their visit to campus themselves. Truthfully, titles like Development Officer or Planned Giving Coordinator can present a significant barrier for Advancement and Alumni Relations professionals, leaving alums skeptical that they’ll simply be solicited for a donation if they do reach out.

No such hesitation occurs when one of their favorite professors asks if the alum will come speak about their experiences to a classroom full of eager students.

Alumni guest speakers are a great way for professors to highlight the relationship between students’ coursework and future job prospects and to demonstrate the value of their degree. They’re also a great way for alums to give back to their beloved alma mater outside of monetary giving and to connect with current students.

This presents a fantastic opportunity to connect with and reward these alumni… if you know when they are coming to campus.

With one simple habit, you can make sure that alumni guest speakers never slip under your radar.

Let professors know that the alumni association will provide them with a free “swag bag” for any alumni coming back to campus to speak in their classes. Ask them to give you at least a one week’s notice and then you will deliver a personalized gift directly to their office the morning of the alum’s visit.

You’ll have advanced notice of upcoming alumni visits, giving you the opportunity to reach out to alums directly.

Meanwhile, alums will be pleasantly surprised by the alumni association’s thoughtfulness, and professors will be relieved that they don’t have to coordinate their own token of appreciation.

Building affinity for your alma mater is similar to building brand loyalty. As discussed in the book, The New Gold Standard, the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain remains at the top of the ratings for loyalty among customers because every employee is empowered with resources to “Deliver WOW” [experiences] through unexpected mini-moments.

Surprising visiting alumni speakers with a gift that shows your appreciation is a great way to replicate this experience on your own campus.

Make the most of the alumni engagements happening all around you on campus by getting professors to view your office as a reliable resource for supporting their relationships with alumni!

This idea was brought to us by professionals that are driving engagement in their networks. It was first brought to our attention by:

Jay McClymont, Messiah College