Explaining the Importance of Alumni Participation
Picture it. You’re standing alone before the Board of Trustees, ready to present the annual giving team’s strategy to increase your institution’s alumni participation rate. You’ve got a deck full of slides filled with goals, schedules, examples, charts, and metrics. You launch into your presentation confidently (you’ve been practicing!) when suddenly one of the board members cuts you off and says, “All this talk of alumni participation. So what? Why does it even matter? After all, you can’t take participation rates to the bank!”
Most advancement professionals can explain why annual fund dollars are important. They provide an important source of flexible and spendable revenue that has an impact on today’s students, faculty, and programs. It is money to “live on” versus money to “grow on,” which typically comes in the form of capital support.
On the other hand, many struggle to articulate the importance of alumni participation. For most educational institutions, the majority of donors will be alumni—although there are other key donor groups such as parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends. Alumni donor count is used to calculate alumni participation by dividing it by the number of living alumni on record. For example, if your institution has 100,000 alumni of record (i.e., living with a good address) and 10,000 of them made a gift last year, your alumni participation rate is 10%.