How to Engage Current and Future Donors Amid a Pandemic


How to Engage Current and Future Donors Amid a Pandemic

University leaders across America are asking their advancement teams to cultivate new donor bases to help close budget gaps, but how realistic is that? EAB’s Jeff Martin is joined by Longwood University alumni engagement professional, Ryan Catherwood, to discuss the state of university fundraising and the role of alumni engagement.

They discuss how schools have shifted from a heavy focus on in-person fundraising events to a total reliance on virtual activities. Ryan shares his thoughts on ways to engage alumni for help on everything from fundraising to career nurturing to serving as brand ambassadors for the university. The two also discuss what they’ve learned by watching all of the experimentation over the past five months and what that suggests for the future of advancement and alumni engagement.


0:00:11.4 Matt Pellish: From EAB, I’m Matt Pellish. And this is Office Hours, the weekly podcast discussing higher education’s most pressing challenges. Normally at this time of year, colleges, universities, they’d be gearing up for the start of the fall semester. Everyone would be excited, they’re welcoming students on campus, dorms are filling up, football tailgates are happening. Instead this year, schools are anxiously adding up all of the shortfalls to their budgets as state funding is dropping, students are unsure if they’ll even enroll, and football conferences are announcing the postponement of their seasons. In response, many universities, they’re turning to their advancement teams. They’re saying, “Let’s find some new donors who can help close those budget gaps.” But how realistic is that approach? Well, today we welcome EAB’s Jeff Martin, along with Longwood University alumni engagement expert and voice of the Advancement Legends Podcast, Ryan Catherwood to discuss the current state of fundraising and alumni engagement. They’ll discuss the shift from in-person events to virtual activities, how to better engage alums, as well as all of the experimentation they’ve seen in just the last five months. Thanks for listening and welcome to office hours with EAB.

0:01:22.4 Jeff Martin: Welcome to Office Hours with EAB. This is Jeff Martin, coming at you live from my home office in Clarendon, Virginia, about oh, 20 minutes outside of our DC offices. I am the Senior Director of EAB’s Advancement Forum, so I oversee all of our advancement research. And I’m joined today by Ryan Catherwood, the Assistant Vice President of Alumni and Career Services at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Ryan, thank you very much for coming.

0:01:52.1 Ryan Catherwood: Hey, Jeff, thanks so much for having me on the podcast. I’m a big fan of EAB.

0:01:56.6 JM: No, it’s my pleasure. I know you and I have had many a conversation over the years, mostly for research purposes. I am thrilled to give the public a bit of a glimpse into what we talk about today. I figure you’re the perfect person to have on this podcast right now because so much attention is shifting towards advancement and how we engage university constituents right now. For example, Inside Higher Ed, I know they did a survey of university presidents back in April, and they found that the number one way university presidents are planning to fill their budget gaps is through fundraising. Some 87% of presidents said they’re going to cultivate new donors. About half of the presidents said they were going to start or expand the capital campaign, but of course, none of that fundraising is possible if we don’t engage and win the mindshare of our constituents, our alumni. So I think probably a good starting place for this conversation for the lay person unfamiliar with alumni engagement and unfamiliar with alumni relations, it’s a bit of a history. What is alumni relations? What was it maybe a decade or two ago. And what did it become on the eve of COVID’s arrival?

0:03:18.1 RC: Yeah, thanks, Jeff. Well, it’s a big question. And I think that when you look back over the course of time, there was this narrative that if you’d ask any senior alumni director, you heard them say, respond something like, “Our alumni only told us they were only hearing from us when we were fundraising, and so we wanted to build alumni engagement opportunities for people to volunteer and participate in other ways that we’re not simply making a gift.” So I think the origins are actually a long ways back when some of the first alumni associations were formed and reunions began to happen as a way to stay connected to the university. And I think that that’s broadly speaking what alumni relations is all about.

0:04:01.8 RC: But you could imagine a bunch of… A president and her campus leaders, the vice-president sitting around the table white-boarding out all the different challenges that they’re facing right now, whether it’s enrollment, or retention, or philanthropy, and there’s a big whiteboard and there’s the word alumni and it’s circled on the whiteboard, because alumni really are part of the conversation when it comes to some of the universities’ greatest challenges. And that’s because they’re the best ambassadors for the school. Assuming they’ve had a great experience, they can… Alumni can help convince others to attend, right? They can mentor students and make sure that they stay engaged in their studies at the university. And of course, alumni are great in terms of being active members of the philanthropic community. So I think broadly speaking because alumni engagement most often falls underneath the advancement unit within organizations, and the charge of the leader of advancement is always about philanthropic dollars. I think, broadly speaking, alumni relations is about creating, cultivating and retaining brand ambassadors that really are involved in all aspects of the university. But most universities do think about them as part of an opportunity to build a donor base for the past, present, and the future.

0:05:22.0 JM: Yeah, and going into COVID, right on the cusp of the pandemic’s arrival, and I know that a lot of alumni relations teams’ strategy was predicated on in-person. I think you mentioned unions and homecoming. I know I live right outside DC, and I get pretty frequent invites to… Or did receive pretty frequent invites to in-person events in the city, and then the pandemic arrived and all of that became impossible. It kind of felt in some ways like the foundation of the way we engage our alumni, the way we activate our alumni to tackle some of the big mission-critical challenges you touched on, was almost rendered obsolete. So I’d love to hear your perspective down at Longwood, and I guess through your conversations with your peers at other institutions, when the crisis arrived and that in-person element was thrown out the window, what did you all do to adapt?

0:06:25.4 RC: Right. Well, you’re right. I think the bread and butter of alumni relations units has always been in the area of traditions and nostalgia, and usually, that’s manifested in in-person events and celebrations, homecomings, and reunions, but also regional events like you’ve just described. So right around March 15th, everything changed. There was this chunk of time, probably a month, when leadership at schools were trying to just sort through the immediate concerns of sending everybody home, quarantine, and then alumni teams essentially were cancelling everything that they had been planning on doing for the remainder of the semester and for the foreseeable future.

0:07:10.4 RC: The spring is a huge time for traditional events to engage alumni. And obviously, a huge proportion of all-night relations activity is in-person events, so all of a sudden everyone was home, there was no in-person events on the calendar, and it was interesting because what it felt like was the traditions and nostalgia type thinking or programming kinda seemed just not particularly important in a time when we were facing a global pandemic, right? Just reminiscing about your college career didn’t seem particularly current or a theme that was even appropriate. And then the other problem was, it was hard to look into the future, so it was hard to put anything on the calendar with any reality that it would happen. And the third problem was our kids all came home too. So families all of a sudden… My kids were home with me everyday, as was my wife, and so we were taking turns watching them. And we obviously had to figure out how to thread the needle, which was to be relevant in an ongoing way, but to find opportunities to be flexible and digital… Of course, they all had to be in the digital space, so maximizing use of social media and websites and other online communities to engage alumni, and that threading of the needle led to I think a lot of experimentation over the last couple of months.

0:08:42.3 JM: I love your emphasis on being relevant. One of the main threads of the conversations that I’ve had over the past many years, honestly, when we talk about the challenges alumni relations professionals face, is that relevance question, that value question. For people, for alumni whose lives are incredibly hectic and frenetic nowadays, how do we make sure that engaging with their alma mater is something that brings direct value to their lives so that there’s something in it for them, that they’re better off on the other side of whatever the engagement program is. I’m curious if you have any examples to share of how Longwood innovated and changed its program and changed what it brought to alumni across the past, I guess, five months… Gosh, we’ve been in some semblance of quarantine for about five months now… Across the past five months to ensure that an email, phone call from Longwood is met with an enthusiastic, “Yes,” met with excitement, met with the knowledge, the suspicion, “Oh, this is going to be good for me where I am right now.”

0:09:56.8 RC: Right well, initially, and even the last couple of months, I think the challenge was also finding the right tone. My favorite band in the world is Phish. It’s this rock-and-roll band that has this really huge community. And what I noticed was that the band started playing some of its archived concerts every Tuesday night at 8 o’clock. And my friends, because all of other events that we were doing were cancelled and we were all wondering how we were surviving amongst pandemic, all of a sudden, Tuesday nights at 8 o’clock we would all get together on Zoom and just talk, and the concert would play on the background.

0:10:38.4 RC: It was just a chance for us to be together as friends. And so I think initially the thinking was, is that let’s focus on friends, because college, when we think back about it, it really is the relationships that we established, the ones that we built, and we don’t go back to reunions by ourselves. We go there with our friends or to see our friends from college, and so I think that the first thing that we did was what we call like a flash engagement event or a spark engagement event, which was a living room concert series. So Longwood University has several singer-songwriters who of course at that moment lost all of their in-person gigs too. And so we would have events where it was sort of a two-part event; it was watch the concert and also make sure to call a Longwood friend, and that was the event. And then it kind of grew in from there, and we would have events focused for kids, so we would have… We knew that moms and dads and grandparents were looking for ways to entertain their kids in these challenging times, and so we would have drawing contests and coloring contests and opportunities really for moms and dads to put their kids in front of an iPad for just a few moments and do something that hopefully they found valuable on behalf of the alma mater.

0:11:57.9 RC: And then what we did is we changed our alumni weekend to be fully digital. So I think a lot of universities were experimenting with those online events, and then many of them converted what was their signature spring events to a virtual version of it. And we learned a lot, and I think that that is what the future looks like. It’s some of the things we learned, for example, we had much more engagement participation over our virtual alumni weekend than we do with people coming back to campus; hundreds and hundreds of people watching online concerts. We had over a thousand people participate in our virtual 5K, so this is just an opportunity. We sent people who registered a T-shirt in advance of the virtual 5K, and over the course of a weekend they did the run themselves and shared photos using a hashtag, and we had a sequence of events. And it was that virtual opportunity to show your community live and active, even amongst a pandemic, is what I think the future holds.

0:13:06.6 JM: It’s funny doing this research, having all these conversations with advancement leaders and engagement leaders always gives me kind of a sense of FOMO, fear of missing out. I keep hearing about things that I wish my own alma mater would do, the virtual 5K… The thing I’m second most looking forward to today is the run I’m taking in the end of the day with, of course, this podcasting being the first thing I was looking forward to.

0:13:32.8 RC: Of course. Of course.

0:13:33.7 JM: Yeah. I love that idea. One thing I wanted to ask about though, of course, you’re a AVP of Alumni and Career Services, and the pandemic was nothing if not a big career crisis for so many individuals. Big unemployment crisis, unprecedented historic spike in unemployment numbers, a lot of folks thinking about, “Okay, I’m out of a job, I’m furloughed, what’s next for me? How do I find gainful employment? Is now a moment to rethink what I’ve been doing?” I have a good handful of friends in their mid 30s who have been pursuing one career option, more service-focused industry and realized I need to get back to something that I can do remotely, otherwise I won’t be able to pay the bills. What’s the past five months looked like on that career front for you and your colleagues?

0:14:33.7 RC: One of the really interesting things that it has done, the pandemic, in terms of how it’s influenced our strategies, is that it’s taken proximity out of the equation, right? So no longer… For example, we have a work shadow program where we connect students with alumni who live in their same hometown and offer a day in the life sort of volunteer experience where the student would spend that day at the headquarters of the alum where they work. And for example, our career fairs where alumni come back and represent their organizations on campus, not to mention the other professional development type events and initiatives. But what it has done, is it has enabled us to think broader and more at scale because no longer do we have to worry about people showing up at a specific place and time. No longer does a student or alum who lives in Richmond need to be thinking just about connecting with alumni in Richmond. So I think strategically what it has done, is it has really opened up the possibilities for the engagement programs that we can offer.

0:15:42.4 RC: That said, it’s also provided a great opportunity to reach alumni with really important messaging about networks and how they work, and how alumni are a really crucial part of making a career change. So day in, day out we talked about something called the hiring manager’s story, and that’s basically a story of how jobs and opportunities are secured through referrals. And alumni are key to obtaining a referral, right? So you wanna… If you’re interested in a career change, you should use the university’s page on LinkedIn, find alumni who work at that particular organization and introduce yourself, and just let them know that you’re interested in that kind of a career change, and begin to do that on a regular basis. So merged alumni and career teams like ours are really thinking about how to get that message out there to as many people as possible. How they can be a part of helping create opportunities for students and alumni, but also how they can better utilize the alumni network to secure them for themselves.

0:16:47.0 JM: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And that touches on one of the big priorities that so many college and university presidents and their leadership teams have been fixated on for years now, which is post-graduation outcomes. How do we make sure that the education our students are getting here translates into employment and success after they leave campus? And that, of course, is just one of many priorities. You opened this conversation talking about recruitment and student success, and these are all issues that I suspect just reading the headlines and what I’m seeing in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, when I’m in… Had my morning coffee, these issues are things that are only going to grow more challenging as we start the school year, as we get deeper into the fall, and then the winter.

0:17:48.0 JM: I saw one survey today, I think it was a Simpson Scarborough survey that projected some 40% of freshmen might not enroll. Of course, with online education, a lot of students find that less engaging, may disengage from their studies, and eventually stop out at a far greater rate than under normal circumstances. So higher ed in many ways is facing crises of existential proportions. How are you anticipating you’ll have to change your strategy for alumni engagement and career services as we enter this particularly turbulent period in the fall?

0:18:28.0 RC: I think that you’re right and that universities are looking to showcase value, right? And to make sure that all stakeholders stay engaged. I think one of the interesting things about this… The narrative, the hiring manager story, and the alumni network, and is how you actually secure a job really hasn’t changed much since the pandemic. It’s just there’s a lot fewer of them. So some of the central narratives that we talk about all the time still are totally relevant, and I think we try to take advantage of them, telling these narratives by really strong use of social media and our websites to deliver them to people.

0:19:17.2 RC: But we were just talking today about how to do a better job of connecting our virtual career fairs and our virtual work shadow programs with virtual micro-internship opportunities for alumni. So, okay, you’ve spent a couple of hours recruiting at Longwood, now you could spend a couple of hours mentoring a student over the course of a few hours virtually, and then you can take the next step with us and maybe help supply a three-month micro-internship where you’re helping to, say on a weekly basis, catch up with a student and offer a project that they can work on while they’re at home. And so I think that more and more universities and shops like mine, we’re gonna be trying to lean even more on alumni to help tackle some of these challenges.

0:20:11.9 RC: Because students that graduated in 2020/2021, as well as a lot of graduates in professional programs, are all vying for the same jobs, in addition to all the people who have lost their jobs. So there is just a really challenging job market that doesn’t necessarily look like it’s going to be easing up any time soon. So really important stuff.

0:20:39.4 JM: Yeah. I graduated into the job market of the great recession, and I thought I had it bad. I do not envy the most recent class of college graduates’ situation they’re finding themselves, worries abound across all of higher education. I’m curious with you personally, or I guess with you professionally, what are you most worried about when it comes to the fall? What do you see as the biggest risks or threats to the success of your engagement efforts at Longwood?

0:21:12.7 RC: I think that… What we have had to do is because a lot of this is new territory for us, this conversion to digital, everything’s virtual and this really focused effort around the career space has meant to us that we need to sort of put down, for even longer, some of the other traditional, more nostalgia-oriented events and initiatives that we’ve done in the past and have been a staple in the fall. So that’s a challenge for us, is… And so those people on the team who are working on those initiatives are now collapsing in and we’re all focused in on these career services initiatives. So I think without rethinking some roles, empowering more people on our teams out there to be thinking about the career space network building, that’s a threat.

0:22:04.7 RC: But one thing I think we’ve realized is that, yeah, there’s decreased money available due to potentially lower enrollment as well as tax dollars, of course, from public institutions, if people are out of jobs, they’re not paying taxes, and so the universities are not receiving those revenues. What we discovered is a lot of the work that we do can be done at a much less expensive cost if we’re doing it digitally. If we’re hosting events on Facebook instead of booking a space and having catering and all of these things that we didn’t think twice about before, now we’ve realized that we can engage just as many people. Now, can you take away the in-person dynamic of it all and feel as satisfying? It just depends on the people, I think. It depends on the school. But I think that broadly speaking, we’ve got a lot of challenges for the fall.

0:23:06.4 JM: Across all the conversations I’ve had in the past say half-decade, I just keep hearing again and again that we’re doing all this high cost in-person programming, and we wish we could stop, but we can’t… And now it kinda feels like the pandemic has forced our hand, like some of the changes we’ve long wanted to make have been made for us. Because we can’t have those big in-person events because we have to go digital, whereas before we were just talking about how we had to go digital. I’m curious, looking ahead, looking… I don’t know, three years, five years, I’m not sure what the right time horizon is here, into the future when everything returns to whatever normal’s gonna look like, once we have herd immunity, what pieces of what we’re doing right now do you expect we’ll keep and what pieces of it do you think we’ll dispense with and get back to the old way of doing things?

0:24:09.1 RC: I think the big open question for us is how much desire is there to really get back into some of the same grooves around in-person engagement and bringing people to campus. ‘Cause I think there will definitely be a desire once we are able to get back to some of the… I think a lot of strategic plans authored by college presidents around the country have in-person events on campus as a major part of the strategy ’cause we know that being there, being in the place pulls on the heartstrings and it gets people participating. But I think, for example, one of the things that we did during the alumni weekend was the 5K and to have these digital concerts happening. Well, why don’t we have those happening at the same time that we’re having the in-person alumni weekend? So now you don’t have to be on campus to experience the energy and enthusiasm around alumni weekend. You could still participate in certain ways that maybe are not as robust or just all-consuming as an on-campus alumni weekend.

0:25:22.4 RC: But no matter where you are, no matter how much time you have, you can still participate. And I think we’re gonna still look for those opportunities to have those sort of flash engagement events. We’re still gonna look for the living room concerts. We’re still gonna try to have cool programs for the kids and grandkids of our alumni to provide value. We’re still gonna be looking for providing opportunities for alumni to destress through virtual yoga and other life long learning exercises that are designed to sort of provide a different tone and sense of value for participation.

0:26:04.3 RC: And I think that those are a couple of the big things that we’re gonna do. Social media and creating great shareable content, I think is a really important thing that we’ve all learned. The shops, the alumni teams that have really great digital competencies, the ones that are good at creating short videos, the ones that have good copywriters, the teams that are able to be nimble using YouTube’s premium streaming service and Facebook Live and Instagram stories, and being able to convert digital enthusiasm into participation will be the teams that are really thriving over the next while. But in addition, from a fundraising standpoint, being great at sharing content and understanding what people are interested in can help you formulate a better donor engagement strategy because you could… If someone likes a photo about… So sorry, a post about scholarships, then you might be able to cultivate them for a future gift to a scholarship program, but I think that we’ve got a lot of opportunities ahead to really focus in on providing value, really getting energized around our digital storytelling, focus on kids and families, and really just make sure that we’re part of the conversation in an ongoing way.

0:27:29.6 JM: You mentioned fundraising right there, and I’m curious, I know at Longwood donor relations and the fundraising unit are separate.

0:27:38.9 RC: Yeah.

0:27:39.7 JM: That historically has been the case of a lot of institutions. As we enter a period where institutions are undergoing intense budgetary pressure, how do you see writ large across the industry the relationship between alumni relations professionals and their fundraising counterparts changing?

0:27:57.5 RC: Well, I think that it’s gonna be… I think for a while they were running on parallel paths, right? You had development over here, and the people who worked on dollars and donors over here, and you had alumni relations professionals over here, and every once in a while you’d collaborate around… There’d be reunion giving efforts around a reunion, for example, but I think that more and more we realized that advancement leaders are being judged on dollars. They’re not really being measured on engagement. And so I think that there will be a pulling together, a fusing together of alumni teams, advancement communication teams, annual giving teams, career services teams all under the umbrella of a donor engagement apparatus that’s really designed to be thinking about mid and lower level donors and providing a personalized donor experience to those donors because so many…

0:29:05.7 RC: And just a really small percentage of prospects have a development officer assigned to them. And so what happens is that the original narrative of they only hear from us, or we only hear from them when we’re fundraising still persists. And it’s not until we convert to a digital gift officers and doing things… Thinking about maybe a donor concierge program where the alumni team becomes kind of a conduit to the university. Maybe instead of trying to provide jobs and internships for everyone, you focus on helping donors find them. Now I think all options are on the table, because there’s gonna be a renewed focus on why are we here? We are here, advancement teams exist to raise philanthropic dollars, and in order to do that you need to retain donors, cultivate donors, and provide a great donor experience. And so I think those parallel paths are gonna be history, and what we’ll see over the coming months, years, by necessity, if not by logic, is a really intense coming together of what was normally silos within advancement to think about, “Why are we here? How are we gonna do this more effectively?”

0:30:20.4 JM: Because we’re all talking to the same constituents, we’re all talking to the same alumni, things like in our organizational structures we often break it up into, “Okay, I’m going to treat them as a donor. Over here, I’m going to treat them as a potential employer for my current students, over here I’m gonna potential event attendee.” These are all just different sides of the same alumni.

0:30:43.9 RC: If you just think of donor… Everyone has a donor past, present or future, and alumni are a really special demographic of potential donors, past, present, and future. The trick is that there’s been a transaction already. They have paid for a degree, they have earned their degree, and so they’re not a client you’re trying to retain. They are a special demographic that you need to provide value to them for their participation, and I think that that is what makes the work of alumni relations something that will prevail because that is a unique constituency with much to offer, but I think that ultimately, it’s about bringing in dollars.

0:31:30.3 JM: Absolutely. Although, I will asterisk this conversation. I will caveat it by saying, yes, dollars, but for any institution, tuition dollars are the ones that are going to move the needle most. And you mentioned at the start of our chat that alumni are a big player in recruiting current students. What better way to stand out from the crowd than to have your alumni being outspoken and enthusiastic brand ambassadors for your institution? That can change the one institution in a pile of 50 that’s mailing a perspective college student into the one where their heart lies. So I think there’s a lot of work to do there, especially on the recruitment front, especially on tuition and non-philanthropic revenues as well.

0:32:22.3 JM: Looking into the future, kind of gazing into our crystal ball, what other challenges do you see on the horizon for our institutions, specifically through the alumni engagement and advancement lens?

0:32:37.0 RC: Well, I think that all of a sudden there’s gonna be an even more granular look at how dollars are being spent, and if it’s not directly tied with bringing in philanthropic dollars, or enrollment, or keeping students on campus completing their degrees, then there’ll be even more scrutiny over those exercises. So I think it’s a good time now for alumni teams to be thinking about, “How do the things that we do provide value?” And if it’s questionable to rethink it. And I think engagement, in and of itself, and we always talk about gifts of time and treasure or and as well as talents, right? The goal, of course is, is we hope people will make gifts to the university, but we want to keep people participating. I think the challenge will be to flip that on its head and think about, “Okay, if we can’t necessarily provide a volunteer opportunity for everyone, but how can we stay connected to as many people as possible, finding out what their interests are?”

0:33:45.7 RC: So maybe you have an alum that lives in San Francisco, works at Google, loves to go fishing in Montana, and you’re cultivating this person maybe not by saying, “Hey, can you give me your time?” But by offering them something. So, “Hey, I just saw this article about fishing that I thought you would enjoy.” Or, “I saw this article about how San Francisco is changing in one way or the other and I thought you would find it interesting.” So other ways of providing value by engaging our alumni and cultivating relationships with them. We need to like their photos of their kids on Facebook, and we need to congratulate them when they get a new job, and begin to integrate our personal and professional uses of social media to really be aligned with people who are doing the jobs of digital gift officers, essentially need to be cultivating, building that professional presence all the time, but it’s connected to your personal. So just a couple of thoughts there.

0:34:47.9 JM: Yeah, I think it’s a very smart, astute insight into the industry, this broader shift from mass programming to personal engagement. We need our alumni to feel like they have a relationship with us, but the problem is people don’t build relationships with institutions, they build ’em with people. So I think the shift you’ve been outlining towards more of an engagement officer model, where you, the person, Ryan Catherwood, Jeff Martin, we are the face of the university. We are the ones, our names are on the outreach. We’re the ones who are building the relationships with these alumni. I think it’s an important one. How to do it at scale, I think is a different question for so many institutions. So out of 300,000 alumni, how do you build a personal relationship with every one of 300,000 alumni? Do you have any thoughts on that particular question?

0:35:51.4 RC: Well, I think scaling it is really a challenge. And you can imagine multiple levels, where at the highest level where you have existing donors who maybe aren’t necessarily assigned to a gift officer, you could imagine a scenario where maybe every month, the president sets aside a lunch for like a casual Zoom conversation and people who are at a certain… Who are cultivators say, “Hey, would you enjoy having lunch with the president,” and it’s just a casual conversation, and gift officers or the new digital or alumni success officers are providing access to people. So I think that’s another way at that high level that you can do it. Another high-level touch point is something we’ve been working on at Longwood, which is providing road maps.

0:36:41.0 RC: So what we’re doing is, we ask students where they’d like to be, or recent alums, I should say, where they’d like to be in one year’s time, where would they like to live, what would they like to do when they get to work each day? Finding more about who they are and who they aspire to be, and then we’re making connections, introductions on their behalf. So I think another way to begin to scale it is to be thinking about the work of alumni relations to be part of a conduit to other people, as opposed to programs and opportunities. And I think there’s some scale opportunities in that area too. And then at a lower level, a mass engagement level. There needs to be a strategy for hundreds of people who are, you’re connected with on LinkedIn to make sure that when they post an update, you make a response on an article they shared or just like it. There just needs to be micro interactions that are connected and tracked with prospects that show them that we’re paying attention and we’re listening.

0:37:48.6 JM: Alright, I feel like you and I could probably talk all day about this, but we should probably wrap it up. Thank you very much for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure to pick your brain and hear your thoughts at a very strange moment in time.

0:38:03.0 RC: Well, I appreciate you reaching out to me and Jeff, it’s always a great opportunity to speak with you. 0:38:13.3 MP: Thanks again for listening. Join us next week when Sally Amoruso is back, accompanied by West Virginia University President, Gordon Gee, along with WVU Vice-President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences, Clay Marsh, to discuss how they’re working with state health officials in West Virginia to contain the spread of the pandemic, and how those efforts have informed their own fall plans. Thanks for listening. For Office Hours with EAB, I’m Matt Pellish.

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