How the University of the Ozarks engaged local alumni


How the University of the Ozarks engaged local alumni

August 9, 2023

Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship logo

Brian Henderson

Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement, University of the Ozarks

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

Topic and problem

This project explored how the University of the Ozarks could engage local alumni to reach annual giving goals.

The national average of alumni giving back to their alma matter is 8%. The approach that I took was to engage our local or “Johnson County” alumni to beat the national average of 8% alumni giving and reach our university goal of 12% alumni giving.

University of the Ozarks has about 500 households of alumni living in Johnson County or within a 15-20 mile radius of campus. If we could engage those alumni and hold special events for them, maybe this would help increase our alumni giving percentage.

The project consisted of five main initiatives:

  1. Creating door hangers that we distributed to local alumni households inviting them to events and contained a QR code to scan for giving
  2. Inviting local alumni to a baseball game and special event for kids to interact with players
  3. Partnering with a local bar and grill (alumni owned) for a special evening of music, food, and drinks for alumni to hang out
  4. Sending birthday messages to alumni with a free coffee coupon inviting them to come to campus and redeem their coffee coupon
  5. Creating an “adopt an eagle” campaign for alumni to give back to the university and connect with a student

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These initiatives helped significantly with our alumni engagement and fundraising efforts. We saw a record number of alumni attend the baseball game with their children and have seen many alumni take advantage of the coffee coupon and come to campus for a “coffee on us”.

We are still a little shy of our 12% alumni giving goal, but we have identified many alumni throughout this process that we can start soliciting and building relationships with, which will hopefully lead to future giving. Our office is always looking for ways to be more creative and connecting with alumni, so creating this project allowed our office an opportunity to reach alumni in different ways than what we have tried previously.


  • EAB
  • University of the Ozarks Marketing Department
  • University of the Ozarks Advancement Services Manager and team members
  • Thankview Platform
  • Capstone partner Margo Thomas from Stetson University

See the fellows' blogs from the capstone projects

Brian Henderson and others participated in EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship in spring 2023.

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