Poor data quality in higher education institutions’ alumni programs is a problem we hear far too often. Data quality is vital to the university and program’s ability to accurately forecast various aspects of an alumni program like donations, how many people are likely to attend an event and other metrics that reflect the success and health of an alumni network.
But why do so many universities struggle with maintaining clean, correct and up-to-date data on their alumni?
Maintaining clean alumni data can be challenging for a number of reasons including lack of alumni engagement, data entry errors or limited resources and staffing. These challenges can derive from various reasons including a lack of industry knowledge and experience with higher education data management. But no matter the reason, the impact of maintaining clean alumni data can be profound and revitalize a dwindling alumni network. Here are four ways clean alumni data can help your alumni program.
1. Enhanced Communication
Administrators overwhelmingly agree that having clean and correct data have a positive impact on their alumni communication efforts. To state the obvious, without accurate contact information, institutions can’t effectively reach their alumni and deliver the value they want to provide to them. With accurate alumni data, institutions can also provide a more personalized experience for their alumni.
Institutions that personalize their alumni communications report an increase in various email marketing metrics and an increase in annual giving. Personalized email campaigns reported a 14% increase in open rates and a 17% increase in click-through rates.
2. Improved Alumni Engagement
Generally speaking, the main goal of alumni programs is to provide their former students with a strong support network with consistent value, much of which is sent via email. But with the massive amounts of emails we receive today, it is no surprise that these can sometimes get lost in our contact’s inboxes. With clean alumni data institutions are able to stand out amongst the competition and provide engaging content for their alumni.
Institutions should be segmenting their audiences more strategically to send them targeted communications based on their demographics, graduation year, area of study or geographic location. With this information university alumni programs can host and manage events like volunteer or mentorship programs or fundraising events and can manage and track invitations, RSVPs and evaluate event success.
3. Increased Fundraising Success
A survey of 800 institutions reported that 54% of institutions who experienced a decrease in alumni giving attributed it to poor data quality and a lack of data integrations. This statistic underscores the importance of having clean and correct alumni data because without it institutions can’t leverage the data they have to build and grow their alumni program.
By leveraging clean data higher education institutions can strengthen their fundraising programs, increase donor engagement and drive philanthropic support for their initiatives and goals. By having accurate records of donor communications, preferences and gift acknowledgments, institutions can provide timely and personalized stewardship activities. Effective stewardship reinforces donor relationships, fosters trust and encourages continued giving.
4. Enhanced Decision-Making
Bad data will lead to bad decision-making, plain and simple. Clean and accurate alumni data serves as a reliable foundation for data analysis and reporting. Institutions can leverage data to generate valuable insights into alumni demographics, engagement levels, giving patterns, event attendance and other relevant metrics.
They can also use this data to identify areas of opportunity and allocate resources strategically. By analyzing alumni data, institutions can determine which segments of their alumni population require additional attention or investment. They can also measure the success of different activities, identify areas for improvement and make data-driven adjustments to enhance program outcomes. With good data, smart decisions can be made, and with a strategic and decision-driven approach to alumni engagement, institutions can experience an increase in alumni giving and engagement.