Amy is Prizmah's Senior Director of Catalyzing Resources. Learn more about her here.

The Value of an Alumni Professional

The age range of your school’s alumni may vary depending on when it was established, encompassing individuals from the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) to Generation Z (born after 1997). Each of these alumni segments have distinct values and mindsets regarding engagement and philanthropy, each bringing unique opportunities of how to engage them. The presence of a dedicated professional working with your alumni can contribute to strengthening your school’s network, fundraising efforts, engagement and overall reputation across the generations. Here are some essential areas where a school can leverage the expertise of alumni professionals to further your schools mission.

School-Community Connection

Alumni represent invaluable resources for schools. Throughout their time at your school, it is crucial to foster an environment that cultivates a strong and enduring connection between students and the school. After students graduate, a dedicated alumni professional can steward these alumni, building an alumni network. It can be as simple as organizing a get together for Shabbat dinner or drinks while they are on their college break or in the summer. 

Alumni that are building their career are a great resource for mentorship of current students, offering internships or job opportunities to other alumni just starting their career. Simply acting as a connector can play a big part as they are building their career, and simultaneously, you are deepening their connection to your school. Dedicate time to creating opportunities for alumni to connect with each other and with the school, as it forms a crucial part of a comprehensive strategy to maintain their engagement. Keeping alumni connected enhances the overall school-community relationship, deepens alumni connection to the school and fosters a sense of pride and loyalty among alumni.

Networking Opportunities 

Alumni hold positions in various industries and organizations, locally, nationally and even internationally. With a dedicated alumni professional on your team, and a strategy to engage them, schools can connect to these networks and leverage them for the benefit of current students and possibly other alumni. They can be supportive in organizing networking events, alumni panels and career fairs. Creating a space for connection can support students as they explore career options, seek advice and establish professional relationships.

Fundraising and Development 

Alumni represent one of your many donor segments. Alumni professionals play a pivotal role in leading or coordinating alumni giving campaigns, designing fundraising events and building a culture of philanthropy within the alumni community. They can share updates about the school’s achievements, initiatives and programming. With their leadership, they contribute to building a culture of shared responsibility and commitment to giving back among the alumni, further strengthening the school’s fundraising efforts.

Alumni Communication 

A dedicated alumni professional ensures consistent and effective communication between the school and the alumni. The alumni professional can manage inline platforms to share news, alumni digital newsletters or magazines, and achievements of the school and its alumni. Regular communication helps to maintain a strong connection between the alumni and the school and encourages their involvement in various activities and events.

Institutional Reputation 

A robust and active alumni network can contribute to the reputation and credibility of a school. Alumni who excel in their fields and are recognized for their achievements reflect positively on the institution that nurtured their development. Through showcasing your alumni success stories and accomplishments (personal and/or professional), a dedicated professional can enhance the school’s reputation, aid in both retention and recruitment of students, and strengthen relationships within your community.

Allocating funds for a dedicated alumni professional might not be feasible for every school. Nevertheless, at some point, every school needs to set a goal for its work with alumni and just jump in. You don’t need to do everything at once. If you haven’t started work with alumni, pick one thing that you can incorporate into your planning for the upcoming year and commit to doing it. Each year, reflect on what you did accomplish and add a bit more to expand your impact. 

Getting started can be the hardest part; an easy way to begin is to hire an alum to build up your alumni database. With summer around the corner, the timing is perfect for a college student or two to roll up their sleeves. Using the new database, you can start to create connections on social and professional platforms. By end of summer, you can have an updated database of alumni to engage with in the coming year.