How to communicate about diverse alumni across campus

Expert Insight

How to communicate about diverse alumni across campus

Two resources to help educate stakeholders

Today, America is far more culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse than it has ever been. As a result, your advancement shop needs to think beyond traditional donors. But other campus stakeholders may not understand the importance of shifting resources to new donor segments.

A changing alumni base

College campuses across the nation feel the shift in demographics as record numbers of first-generation, international, female, and historically underrepresented students are enrolling in college. These changing demographics represent significant challenges for advancement offices, particularly in major giving, which has historically focused on a pipeline of white, male donors.

Diverse alumni share the common experience that their time on college and university campuses was shaped, in part, by their affinity group. Their experience was not less valuable or somehow inferior to the traditional experience—it was simply different.

Improve engagement for diverse alumni

If advancement leaders want to effectively engage and solicit their growing base of diverse alumni, they need to recognize these differences. Then, they should seek to understand the giving trends and desires of their diverse alumni. Finally, advancement leaders should create channels for diverse alumni to engage with the institution, with each other, and with current students.

Communicate the challenge across campus

With shifting demographics on many campuses, advancement professionals need additional information on how to understand the needs of these populations. Advancement leaders have a crucial role to play in communicating these shifts (and what they mean for our development and alumni relations teams) to key campus stakeholders.

Our study Changing Face of the 21st Century Donor provides has a variety of resources that will give you a data-driven overview of the shifting alumni demographic trends and enrollment challenges in North America, and their potential impact on advancement strategies.

A variety of potential audiences

Advancement staff may benefit from seeing data on demographic trends in order to plan events and engagement opportunities that appeal to wider swaths of alumni. Sharing data with institutional leaders can help make the case for increased investment in this space. Other key stakeholders, like governing boards and key campaign leaders, will appreciate having an insider look at the forces that affect development strategy.

Your advancement shop can use this presentation alone, in combination with other updates about annual progress, or when setting new strategies to engage diverse alumni segments. It’s important to consider which audiences may benefit from the information.

Customize the presentation to fit your needs

This is a general presentation that can be used on any campus to communicate with stakeholders about diverse alumni. But, you may want to add information specific to your institution. We have four suggestions for ways to tailor the presentation:

  • A demographic profile of your institution’s alumni and current students
  • Success stories about engaging diverse alumni
  • Overall alumni engagement strategy, including affinity programming
  • Estimated growth in alumni engagement and giving with additional investment in advancement operations

Stakeholders from outside advancement may not understand the value of engaging diverse alumni now in order to increase future giving. You can add personal stories and additional relevant information to demonstrate the importance of prioritizing diverse alumni strategy now. Moving forward, you can provide additional updates on diverse alumni to show stakeholders how the institution can’t afford to miss out on investments in this space.


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