I’m proud to announce our newest feature: goals. With goals, Switchboard is now the only engagement platform that helps institutions set and track engagement goals across teams. This feature has been five years in the making. I want to share why it is one of the most important and industry-changing benefits we offer and why, after hundreds conversations with industry leaders, we’ve discovered it is mission critical for any institution making strategic investments in community engagement.
As part of our sponsorship of the annual Alumni Career Services Network conference this year, we shared our thoughts on how schools can develop stronger relationships with their alumni communities.
We all have high hopes and limited resources to achieve them. In our presentation, we explained how we can leverage our communities to engage alumni whose needs are being met by our current programs.
Cracks are showing in our traditional methods for engaging alumni. Alumni giving is down, fewer and fewer think their degrees were worth the cost, and they aren't giving for the same reasons. The fundraising landscape is changing, and so are public expectations of and perspectives on higher education.
In times of change like these, it's important that we examine—and challenge—our core assumptions.
So today we consider the funnel.
It's a simple question that every industry struggles to answer: Is what we're doing working?
As the public increasingly asks that question of institutions of higher education, those schools are turning to their offices and asking it in turn. We've all felt pressured to answer it, expected to, as if defining and measuring intangible ROI is easy.
But it isn't easy. Many offices aren't measuring their performance at all. Many of those that are are measuring the wrong things. And that makes impossible to answer the question.
Our relationships with new grads almost always start off on the wrong foot. They're frustrated with their student loan debt. They hate being asked to give to the annual fund. They give at low rates, don't think their degrees are worth the cost, and don't think their alma maters are doing enough to help them build their careers.
To better understand why alumni feel this way, what we can do about it, and what we stand to gain by improving, let's return to the moment they become alumni. When we walk through the experience of our alumni, starting with graduation, it becomes much more clear why they resent us—and what we can do to change that.