Disgraceful Data Sets: A Review of College Alumni Offices (Part 1)

A business is only as good as the data that it has on which to operate and make decisions.  Finances need to be in order to better anchor a growth strategy, provide the necessary capital for product development, or fuel a marketing campaign. For every department and facet of a business, data is generated on a daily basis. The question is whether or not it’s being collected and then leveraged as part of the decision making process.

In higher education, there exists a sub-industry that relies heavily on data and on building relationship capital among its constituents: the alumni and development office. With thousands of potential graduates waiting to be added to a university’s Rolodex, it is imperative that there not only exist a baseline of data about each and every former student (customer) but the processes in place to collect and use this information.

Today’s information landscape makes it easier than ever to locate and engage graduates. The rise and adoption of Facebook and LinkedIn as THE standards for sharing information should be every alumni office’s bread and butter. Why not capitalize on the free exchange of information, almost all of which is self-posted, solidifying the likelihood that the data is accurate and reliable?

Questions that an alumni office should ask itself:

  • How many alumni graduated in a certain year? Of that number, how many have we obtained good information about? Is the information current? When was the last time the information was updated?
  • Can we identify 15-20 alumni from each year that could become social media advocates? If so, are they on a social media website? What can we offer each individual for helping participate? (Send each alumni involved stickers, coffee mugs or a sweatshirt. Don’t be cheap: this simple notion could help generate handsome returns over time.)
  • How often does the college communicate with its alumni? Is there any record of communication being kept?
  • What does our online presence look like? Is the content relevant to our audience? Why would alumni use the website or connect with the college online?
  • Would alumni be willing to stump and share a page among their classmates?

So how would you go about creating a baseline? Check back tomorrow and read what FundFive suggests your team should do in order to address the issue getting your data in order.


Additional Resource

How college applications change in the era of Big Data
Marketplace Education
January 14, 2014