In 2009, the Arkansas Alumni Association worked with Performance Enhancement Group, Ltd. to create an Alumni Attitude Study, which was distributed to all alumni with an active e-mail address on file. The following is a summary of the results as they pertain to the 500+ young alumni or alumni who have graduated since 2001 who completed the survey. It is our hope that the results of this study will help you better understand your young alumni population and better tailor your offerings for this constituency.
When current members were asked what impact several factors had on motivating them to continue being a member, young alumni rated "staying connected to the university" and "having access to career or business networking opportunities" higher than any other population. One simple way to make your alumni group attractive to young alumni is to plan an annual networking event or brainstorm ways to incorporate networking into existing programs and promote these opportunities in your communications.
When asked what best explained why they had not become members, not surprisingly, they reported, "my personal circumstances didn't allow me to." The second and third highest reported reason, however, were "I do not know what the benefits are" and "I haven't been asked to become a member." The latter two are areas where alumni groups can play a significant role in acquiring new members. Taking the opportunity to promote membership benefits at your young alumni events, on your Facebook page, etc. are excellent ways to educate your peers.
Unlike their older cohorts, young alumni reported that the importance exceeds performance in nearly all communication vehicles (e.g. - invitations to events, communications regarding benefits, etc.) when asked how important the method of communication is to them and the Association's effectiveness in utilizing the method. Although this was feedback on the Association's communications, there is a lesson to be learned here for alumni groups. Young alumni want electronic communications and they want to feel informed. This is no great shock, but it can help you develop your communication strategy with your Communications Chair. For example, a viral invitation might be more effective than a printed one and a reminder e-mail closer to the date of the event may not be necessary for older alumni, but with young alumni, it is important.
When it comes to programming, young alumni overwhelmingly reported that the importance exceeds performance on "identifying job opportunities for graduates" and that performance exceeds importance in "attending athletic events." While this does not mean that you should stop planning watch parties, it does mean that there is a clearly defined need here and perhaps you can shift more attention to promoting existing Alumni Association resources for job seekers or planning other career opportunities locally.
Young alumni rated the following reasons for what barriers prevent them from participation in alumni activities.
- Family or job commitment
- Do not know anyone
- Type or subject matter of event
- Do not know how to get involved
- Concern about future solicitation
- Just don't want to
- I would not make a difference
- Not interested in the University
More so than their older alumni peers, young alumni had rated the following categories highest: cost, value, do not know how to get involved and do not know anyone. While you cannot make time for young alumni or do anything about family and job commitments, the good news is that you can do something about these responses. Knowing that cost and value are barriers, you might want to consider offering a reduced rate for young alumni to participate in an event (even if it is a nominal discount) and address value by promoting the benefits (e.g. - passed hors d'oeuvres, free parking, door prizes, etc.). You can also kill two birds with one stone by developing a communication strategy that involves young alumni volunteers doing personal outreach to young alumni who have never come to an event and asking them to join the fun and encouraging them to meet them at the next program.
If you are interested in more results from the Alumni Attitudes Study and how your alumni group can respond to the results of the study, please contact your Regional Territory Manager.