Maintaining Good Records for Young Alumni
Don’t assume that digital communication (e.g., email, texting, social media) is the only way to maintain contact with young alumni. Traditional channels like phone calls and print mail can also be useful ways to keep recent graduates connected. But you can’t take advantage of either one if you don’t have a current phone number or mailing address.
Maintaining good contact information on alumni is rarely an easy task. Keeping tabs on young alumni can be an even bigger challenge. For one thing, they’re mobile. More likely to change jobs and less likely to be married, have children or own a home, recent graduates have more freedom to move around than older, more settled alumni. This means that you have to be more proactive and vigilant when it comes to keeping track of them.
Advancement staff at George Washington University were worried that many of their younger alumni were not receiving the alumni magazine, event invitations or print annual fund appeals. Their office was getting back a lot of returned mail, and they also noticed that a large percentage of their recent graduates’ home mailing addresses were the same as their parents’. What’s more, a larger than usual percentage of younger alumni weren’t answering when the phonathon called. The advancement staff did, however, have good email records since most students kept the same address after graduating.
To collect better contact information, the advancement team sent a series of emails to recent graduates asking them to confirm or update their home and employment information. Anyone who completed the survey was entered into a drawing for a chance to win an iPad mini (see below). The first email, to all graduates of the past decade, had a response rate of over 20 percent. A follow-up email, sent to all graduates of the past two years, had a 40 percent response rate. By the end of the campaign, the university was able to update information on nearly 70 percent of all survey respondents.
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