4 easy ways to leverage your crm for alumni engagement

When alumni are active, involved members of your university’s community, it affects every aspect of your institution. Engaged alumni don’t just boost fundraising success, they can also help you recruit and inspire students, support campus-wide improvements, and contribute to an overall thriving campus community.

However, if your staff members are stretched thin or if your alumni data isn’t organized, it can be challenging to connect with the thousands of unique individuals that make up your alumni pool. This is where your CRM comes in! Your CRM can be a highly effective tool for engaging alumni if you know how to use it to its full potential.

We’ll cover four simple strategies you can use to boost engagement with your CRM: 

  1. Use centralized data to get the full picture of your relationships.
  2. Easily personalize outreach by creating alumni segments.
  3. Streamline event planning and fundraising.
  4. Track and manage relationships to build alumni networks.

These tips will help you build strong and lasting relationships with these important members of your community. Every CRM is different, so feel free to tailor these strategies based on your CRM’s specific features.

1. Use centralized data to get the full picture of your relationships.

When data is siloed in a variety of disconnected systems, it’s extremely difficult for your staff to get an accurate picture of your alumni and how they want to interact with your university. Consolidating all of your data into your CRM, however, gives you a centralized source of truth where you can quickly and easily gain insights about your alumni.

By organizing your data into comprehensive constituent profiles, you can get a better understanding of who your alumni are and what matters to them. For example, Redpath’s guide to Salesforce Education Cloud explains how the Salesforce CRM gives you a 360-degree view of your alumni and all the ways you’ve interacted with them. 

In each profile, you can holistically see your alumni’s:

  • Contact information and preferences
  • Involvement history
  • Donation history
  • Current career 
  • Professional and personal interests
  • Former on-campus activities
  • Professional and personal affiliations

This comprehensive view will help you personalize communications, cater to individual needs, and offer your alumni the most relevant opportunities for involvement.

For instance, let’s say you’re looking at the profile of a woman named Marlene to decide if she’d be a good fit for your student mentoring program. From her profile, you see that she graduated summa cum laude in 2003 with a degree in Biochemistry and now works as a research scientist at a hospital. You also see that she donates monthly, spoke on a career development panel in 2021, and currently has a niece attending your university. 

Based on this information, you can conclude that she may be interested and reach out to her right away.

2. Easily personalize outreach by creating alumni segments.

To successfully encourage alumni to attend events, sign up to volunteer, and donate, your outreach needs to be tailored to their unique interests. Fortunately, you can use your CRM to plan, send, and track personalized communications across all of your marketing channels.

The key to this personalization is creating the right segments of alumni in your CRM. Use the following segments as a starting point:

  • Program and graduation year: Segments for each graduation class and individual program of study help you quickly send information about class reunions and program-specific events to the right people.
  • Career field: Any time you host a career event or a staff member is looking for a volunteer mentor, you’ll likely want to target alumni in specific fields. These segments can also be useful for tailoring messages and invitations to professional interests. 
  • Engagement level: Create segments based on individuals’ overall level of engagement. Then make smaller groups pertaining to donations, event attendance, and volunteering habits. 

If you’re looking for more ways to personalize outreach, consider branching out with CRM integrations and add-ons that can boost your marketing capabilities. 

For example, you might add Marketing Cloud to your Salesforce instance to access intuitive email automation features. Or if you need to engage younger alumni, consider investing in a text marketing app that integrates with your CRM and enables you to try new texting strategies. Tatango’s higher education texting guide suggests using texts to send reminders about events, announce alumni meetups, and advertise university giving days.

As you try out new segmentation and personalization strategies, you can also use the reporting dashboards in your CRM to monitor your success. Comprehensive reports and data analysis tools can shed light on what’s working well and what could be improved.

3. Streamline event planning and fundraising.

Whether you’re planning a reunion or any other alumni event, your CRM can help you keep everything organized and efficient. Track event invitations, RSVPs, and attendee survey responses all in one convenient place. Manage your event promotion by tracking the announcements you send and social media posts you make. 

Plus, you can use the data in your CRM to plan better, more engaging events and fundraisers based on alumni interests. Compile data from post-event survey responses to see which aspects of the event were most popular and source ideas for new activities for future events.

In terms of fundraising, you can use your CRM to streamline donation tracking and send tailored fundraising appeals based on alumni data. For example, after thanking and recognizing alumni donors for their year-end gifts, you might use employer data from your CRM to determine which alumni donors may be eligible to get their gifts matched. Then, send personalized emails letting them know about the additional impact they could make, along with a video explaining matching gifts and how to request one.

4. Track and manage relationships to build alumni networks.

Using the same constituent profiles we discussed earlier, you can track relationships between alumni and foster new connections easily. Leverage contact management features to connect alumni with each other and with current students to facilitate impactful networking opportunities. 

This might look like:

  • Finding alumni volunteers for a student mentorship program.
  • Scheduling informational interviews between alumni and current students interested in learning more about their field. 
  • Connecting students or alumni looking for new positions with those whose employers are hiring.

For instance, let’s say you have a promising senior music major who isn’t sure which direction they want to pursue after graduation. Using the profiles and contact information in your CRM, you could connect the student with several successful performing arts alumni and schedule short meetings for them to learn more about their options. In the end, you’ll help the student find a job after graduating and build stronger relationships with the alumni who volunteered to meet with them.

When leveraged effectively, your university’s CRM can be a powerful tool for sustaining relationships with alumni. If you want to learn more about how to get the most out of your CRM, or if you’re thinking of upgrading to a system that’s a better fit, don’t be afraid to reach out to a higher education technology consultant. They’ll help you find the best tools to meet your needs and show you how to use them to build lasting alumni relationships.

AlumniFinder Team