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Your NEXT–NET Thing! Reinventing Your Alumni Association For The Internet Era

Don Philabaum, founder

Internet Strategies Group

You will learn:   

What is a NET-Centered Alumni Association Five Steps to Become NET-Centered Three Benefits for you

Who should read this:    

Vice Presidents Directors Assistants Web Managers

Executive Summary


Definition A NET-Centered Alumni Association... …is one that is reinventing the way they do business by adopting Internet technology to serve a greater number of alumni than can be engaged through traditional events and activities.

Introduction

Reinventing your alumni association for the Internet Era

Your NEXT–NET Thing!

Not everyone will agree with the recommendations of this white paper, but if it resonates with you, you’ll be happy to know there are others like you who feel more should be done immediately to engage, involve, and connect with alumni using Internet technology. This report suggests that in an era where the Internet is disintermediating hundreds of industries, and requiring companies within them to adapt their business model if they want to survive, that your alumni association too is at a crossroad, and must begin to evaluate the changes the Internet is having on your organization, your alumni, and your mission. You will learn that you have a tremendous opportunity to reach a greater number of your alumni more frequently by shifting your resources, time, attention, and staff from traditional events and activities— to tools, services, and events delivered via Internet technology. Alumni Associations that move in this direction increase registrations, participation, communication, connectedness, and contributions. We will suggest that you will need to examine the processes, functions, activities, and responsibilities of your staff and volunteers, and begin to realign everything around the power and the potential of the Internet.

This report will show you how you can: 

Increase engagement, involvement, communication, and contributions

Create written strategies to prove the need for more resources

Strengthen your resume and earning opportunities

Adopt Internet technology to better serve their alumni

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Executive Summary Robert Putnam in his book, Bowling Alone, suggests participation in clubs and organizations has been on the decline for decades. If you are like most organizations, you are graduating more alumni each year, yet you have to work harder to get alumni to take the time to participate in traditional events and activities.

Reinventing your alumni association for the Internet Era

Your NEXT–NET Thing!

Why? Your alumni are among the most time starved people in the world. Each has hundreds of organizations that want a piece of their time, and everyone is juggling responsibilities that alumni 30 years ago did not face. We recommend that you begin to balance your investment in traditional events with investments in online events, benefits, and services. In the decade we’ve worked with alumni and advancement professionals, we have come to realize that budgets are tight, and it’s difficult to get approval for non line item projects. What we have learned is that there is money available if organizations analyze the effectiveness of existing projects, and eliminate low performing events and activities, so they can reinvest the time and money into Internet activities. The Internet is opening an opportunity for you to engage more alumni, more frequently, for a fraction of what you are spending on traditional engagement activities. The Internet enables you to engage alumni in small “time splices” and allows alumni to stay connected from wherever they are in the world, at any time. However, few organizations are totally committed to an Internet strategy and reinventing their alumni association around the Internet. It’s ironic that many organizations are committed to providing a world class alumni magazine, but willing to deliver a mediocre alumni website and online community.

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NET-Centered Alumni Association reaps rewards!

1. An alumni association with 30,000 alumni receives $1,000,000 in un-solicited online contributions. 2. Academy processes over $500,000 in event registration payments automatically through their online community. 3. Private college registers 20,000 alumni in their online community in only 11 months. 4. State college has 9,000 alumni visiting their online community each month! 5. Private college alumni association has over 4,000 active volunteers. 6. Alumni association sends 200 emails containing 500,000 email addresses, saving $150,000. 7. Ninety-nine percent of graduates register in private college alumni online community.

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Reinventing your alumni association for the Internet Era

Your NEXT–NET Thing!

Our research is showing this is occurring because most alumni associations: 

Have a PATCHWORK Internet strategy that can’t keep pace with the rapidly changing technology, needs, and behaviors of their alumni.

Are not AGGRESSIVELY adopting Internet technology to increase engagement, participation, and contributions.

Are not reallocating RESOURCES from low “participation” activities like the alumni magazine to high activity communication channels like the website.

Are not providing TRAINING to staff to help guide the development of a comprehensive Internet strategy.

Have not received the DIRECTION or support to expand their relationship with alumni via the Internet.

Our research proves that the patchwork/quick fix Internet strategy will result in more costs, reduction in efficiencies, and decreased engagement of alumni of all ages. Our goal is to provide ideas and solutions so you can lead your organization in developing a comprehensive Internet strategy that will position your alumni association for the next decade.

4 characteristics of NET-Centered Alumni Associations In the past decade we’ve worked closely with alumni and advancement professionals around the world, we’ve identified 4 key characteristics NET-Centered Alumni Associations focus on. Each: 1. Teach students and alumni to network both in person and online. 2. Use Internet technology for career development, creating a sense of nostalgia, learning opportunities, and helping alumni transition in the phases of their lives. 3. Integrate Internet technology in each department within the alumni association. 4. Use the Internet to provide administrative benefits, but focus far more attention on providing Internet resources to benefit alumni.

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5 steps to become a NET-Centered Alumni Association Like anything else, you have to have a plan in order to know where you are going and a goal for when you get there. We’ve identified 5 key steps you need to take to put your alumni association in a position that it can develop a 24/7/365 connection with your alumni. 1. Develop a comprehensive Internet strategy 2. Realign all positions around Internet technology 3. Improve web products and services 4. Commit to training for alumni, your team, and yourself 5. Financial and resource support by upper management

Reinventing your alumni association for the Internet Era

Your NEXT–NET Thing!

5 benefits of becoming a NET-Centered Alumni Association 5 reasons why you should be become a NET-Centered Alumni Association: 1. You will engage more alumni 2. You can offer benefits and opportunities never dreamed of 3. Reduce costs 4. Increase communication with alumni 5. Increase contributions and stewardship

3 ways YOU benefit from being a NET-Centered Alumni Association What’s in it for me? Good question! Every organization, every company, every institution, is migrating their business processes to the Internet. If your skills, knowledge, and experience is limited to techniques and tools invented prior to the “Leave it to Beaver” TV program, you are limiting your future opportunities. As you expand your understanding and knowledge of Internet tools, marketing, and engagement opportunities you will not only become more valuable to your organization, but you will strengthen your resume! Positions in the private sector are rapidly developing the pay offered in the educational sector for individuals with the skills and knowledge to lead an organization’s Internet strategy. 1. You gain new knowledge to advance your career 2. You become more valuable to your department and college 3. Your job will become easier, less confusing, and more rewarding

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Summary The Internet offers unlimited opportunities to personalize your relationship with your alumni based on their interests, stage in life, and college experiences.

Reinventing your alumni association for the Internet Era

Your NEXT–NET Thing!

Instead of trying to execute a “patchwork” Internet strategy, a NET-Centered Alumni Association finds the resources and time to re-INVENT their alumni association around the Internet. A NET-Centered Alumni Association spends the time to evaluate the effectiveness of existing events and services, begins migrating resources normally allocated to them, and reinvests them in Internet events and services that reach a larger number of alumni. If your alumni association has a patchwork Internet strategy that evolved over the last ten years with no formal planning or written strategy, chances are, you and your colleagues are frustrated, and your alumni are not only underserved, but also underwhelmed. A “fit it in” Internet strategy is a recipe for failure. It will perpetuate the unnecessary spending with fewer results than would be possible if you had a written, comprehensive Internet strategy. Our goal is to help you become a “relevant” institution to your now changed alumni. By following the steps we’ve outlined, the benefits identified to you, your alumni and your organization will be realized. This white paper is the result of over a decade of observation and experiences. It is offered to help you develop your own NET-Centered Alumni Association. However, if you are as time starved as your alumni, you’ll be happy to know you can engage our organization to handle this “one time” strategy that will position you to engage more alumni and be more relevant to them in today’s Internet era.

Receive the complete unabridged white paper If you are interested in receiving the full 15 page white paper, “Your NEXT–NET Thing!” that provides you complete details and a better understanding on how you can lead you alumni association to become a NET-Centered Alumni Association, please contact me at don@internetstrategiesgroup.com

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Your Next NET Thing!