The Evolution of Alumni Relations

June 25, 2017 Kathy Edersheim

Regardless of whether you believe that alumni relations and fundraising should be managed separately, as a single unit, or something in between, they share the fundamental goal of generating support for the institution and so they can share techniques for success. McCabe Callahan’s article The Evolution of Philanthropy & the Fall of the Fundraising Pyramid describes the process for engaging and cultivating donors for the long-term. There are many parallels for identifying, engaging and cultivating alumni as volunteers for a high impact alumni relations program. It is especially noteworthy that the most effective approach is evolving – it is not the same as it was ten or twenty years ago in fundraising and it is not the same in alumni relations. To be successful in alumni relations, the team needs to have a methodology that does more than engage alumni, it needs to make them life-time givers of their time and wisdom. The steps described in McCallahan’s article provide a useful framework for thinking about alumni relations and other volunteer efforts as well.