Alumni Market Research – Running an in-house alumni survey

David Fisher, Manager, Information Services, Trinity College School

In March 2017, Trinity College School started a 5-year cycle of deep information collection from its alumni. This session will outline lessons learned through our experience. It will address the steps to running a successful alumni survey in-house, including:

  1. What questions to ask
  2. What technology to use
  3. How to maximize participation
  4. Who needs to be involved
  5. How to integrate the data into Raiser’s Edge
  6. How to use the data to support philanthropic programs and services
  7. How much it may cost

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How to run an alumni census.
  2. How to craft good census questions.
  3. What to do post-census.

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Alumni relations and annual giving: A case study on bridging the gap

Sarah B. MacDonald, Manager of Annual Giving; and Emily LeBlanc, Alumni Officer, Saint Mary’s University

Imagine if there just weren’t those “silos” between departments and groups on campus. That’s what the annual giving staff and alumni team at Saint Mary’s University tried to tackle over the past two years. Explore their successes and challenges as Emily LeBlanc, Alumni Officer, and Sarah MacDonald, Manager of Annual Giving, discuss their experiences of working collaboratively in the hierarchical environment that is higher education. We’ll break out successful policies and practices from their experiences and discuss ways that you can implement some of them sooner, rather than later.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How two vital teams can work together on a regular basis to reach each office’s goals.
  2. An experience-based framework to work collaboratively across advancement teams.
  3. Through conversation within the session, how teams and team members can work with one another despite a rigid institutional framework.

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Turning stale into grail: how to engineer ongoing Board rejuvenation, bring new life to the alumni voice and energize senior alumni volunteering

Guy Larocque, Associate Vice President, Alumni Relations, University Relations, University of Saskatchewan; and Alyson Gampel, Associate Director, Alumni Programs, Division of Advancement, York University

Over the past two years, the separately incorporated York University Alumni Association has been integrated with the University. Its leadership has morphed into a Presidential Advisory Committee to intensify engagement and create a greater voice for alumni inside the university administration. Participants in this session will learn what led to this change of structure, whose buy-in was essential throughout and the steps taken to realize the transition. We will also discuss outcomes, including the ongoing Board renewal process enabled by this evolution.

Participants in this session will gain:

  1. An understanding of the pros and cons of a governing vs. advisory alumni Board.
  2. A mapping process to move a Board from governing to advisory.

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Measuring alumni engagement

Colleen Bangs, Director, Alumni Partnerships, University of Calgary; and Kevin MacDonell, Associate Director, Advancement Data & Analysis, Dalhousie University

Tracking engagement is how alumni engagement professionals demonstrate the value and impact of the work we do. However, creating a model is only the first step. It is critical that we are clear about what we are measuring - and for what purpose - and that we have processes in place for both inputting data and analyzing it afterwards.

Through the lens of two universities that have developed and used a measurement model, this session will explore how to demonstrate value to the bottom line and to the organization’s mission by measuring and tracking alumni behaviours at the individual level. Participants in this session will gain insights on how to evolve a vision for measuring meaningful alumni engagement into a working model that not only measures, but informs how we work and moves us forward.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Explore scoring methods and paths to implementation, from the evolution of a great idea into an integral part of work in both alumni engagement and development.
  2. Identify and discuss barriers that can emerge after the inception of an alumni engagement scoring model.

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Comms on a shoestring

Cynthia Breen, Senior Communications Officer, Digital Initiatives; and Jude Doble, Associate Director, Communications, University of Waterloo

This session will highlight examples of communications projects that were quick, cost effective, and demonstrated a high return. Attendees will hear about the wins and not-quite-wins of Waterloo’s advancement communications projects that were done on a shoestring budget with creative and fun idea sharing.

The session will offer takeaways, lessons learned and examples of the dialogue and interaction each opportunity generated with alumni and donors. Examples include our Call Centre videos, Giving Tuesday hours of matching, and 12 days of kindness.

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From ivory tower to digital public square: our journey to engage our communities

Anju Visen-Singh, Senior Director, Marketing, University of Calgary

Find out how UCalgary’s marketing team built a content- and digital-first marketing campaign that secured buy-in and integration across campus, created champions and demolished the walls between our research and our communities.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Learn about results from UCalgary's experience of marketing its research impact to audiences.
  2. Gain insights into how to build, execute and track a full-scale digital campaign.

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Telling your story to a wider audience: the U of A's brand journalism experiment

Jacqui Tam, Vice-President, University Relations; and Michel Proulx, Director of News and Media Relations, University of Alberta

Who, what, where, when, how and why did one of Canada's top universities launch an independent (separate from brand journalism website? We discuss the strategy, implementation and lessons learned in the transformation of how the institution's story is shared with the world.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Gain an understanding of brand journalism and the role it can play in conveying institutional key messages and building reputation.
  2. Learn to create buy-in and build cross-institutional capacity using the techniques of brand journalism.
  3. Learn that the story is the pitch: the relationship between brand journalism and media relations.

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New-donor stewardship automation: Using marketing tools to deepen engagement

Shelly Steenhorst-Baker, Senior Manager, Advancement, Perimeter Institute

Marketing automation is a category of technology that allows organizations to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows to increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster. Build your understanding of how these tools can be applied in the fundraising context by learning how Perimeter Institute started to use nurture paths to increase the engagement of first-time donors, to increase retention and deepen their commitment to the organization.

Shelly will explain how to identify the best group for automation, and discuss techniques for automation (even if you don't have the specialized technology). Leave with a plan on how to activate your annual giving stewardship at a higher level while actually reducing the work time spent on this group.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Learn about the marketing tools available for automation and how they can be leveraged for fundraising.
  2. Learn how to build a first-time donor stewardship plan for their first year of giving.
  3. Identify ways to maximize engagement with annual giving donors while reducing time spent.

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Donor-centred stewardship

Shannon Wilmot, Communications Officer, Development, Carleton University

Great donor stewardship is increasingly personal and delivered by various units and departments across campus. In this session, you will learn how Carleton University developed its customized stewardship programs and discuss best practices in the field. Topics will include personalized stewardship plans, impact reports, use of multimedia, and how to work collaboratively with colleagues across your university. You will also encounter the Stewardship Web, an innovative ecosystem and training tool that makes donor engagement a core part of everyone’s job.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Gain ideas on how to demonstrate impact to top donors.
  2. Learn to recognize areas for improvement in donor engagement.
  3. Be encouraged to develop greater collaboration not only among advancement units, but also with partners across campus.

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Pro-active and personal: Stewardship strategies for your top donors

Susan Wright, Director, Stewardship & Donor Relations, McMaster University

Effective stewardship takes a village.... it also takes time, patience and resources. What if you are lacking in all of these things? Susan will share some top tips for effective, proactive, and highly personalized stewardship for your institution's most generous donors.

This session will:

  1. Define proactive approaches to stewardship.
  2. Review the top 10 tips for creating bespoke stewardship plans.
  3. Review stewardship long-term objectives.

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The W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship at Loyalist College

Jeremy Braithwaite, Project Lead, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship program; and Dianne Spencer, Executive Director, College Advancement & External Relations, Loyalist College

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship is a unique skills and technology student/apprentice support system that began at Loyalist College in 2013 as a three-year pilot program. The Foundation's support has grown to provide over $1.3 million to support at least 150 Weston Fellows as well as awareness programs regarding careers in skilled trades.

This program has proven to have a positive effect on student recruitment, retention and program completion. The Fellowship focuses on developing and embracing passion for skills and technology, mentorship and community engagement, academic strength and financial support. We look forward to sharing this unique partnership as a model for similar programs in other colleges.

This session will:

  1. Review the development of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation program, which has been expanded from a 2013 pilot program to provide student support through 2020.
  2. Review partnership development with the Foundation, leading to new applications and financial support.

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Tips, tools and tricks for development on a dime; or, Lean and mean fundraising

Nancy Handrigan, Executive Director, Philanthropy and Campaign Director, Acadia University

Hear how a small team has tackled aggressive fundraising targets at the same time as mending and building relationships. With minimal personnel and budget, Acadia University has succeeded in surpassing its own annual fundraising record twice in four years, all the while setting the stage for the next comprehensive campaign.

Pick up some tips, grab a few new tools for your own fundraising toolbox, and hear stories about pulling rabbits out of hats. The presenter hopes to hear some new ideas too – come with your own! Geared primarily toward small advancement operations.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Share strategies to maximize development efforts with minimal resources (staff and budget).
  2. Learn creativity and the importance of being nimble.
  3. Hear stories that provide examples of personalized stewardship.

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The advancement/academic partnership: Tools for success in major gifts and campaigns

Andrea Morris, Associate Vice-President (Campaign and Principal Gifts), University of Calgary

Campaigns and annual philanthropic targets are on the rise in post-secondary education in Canada. To achieve these goals, advancement leaders and academics must work in close partnership to plan, execute and evaluate fundraising strategies and programs. However, this partnership can be fraught with challenges.

This session will:

  1. Identify and address the most common pitfalls in working with academics on major gifts.
  2. Clarify the responsibilities of both the academy and the advancement team to set the table for success.

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Stewarding your employees: Employee engagement is key to running a successful shop

Stephanie Corrigan, Acquisition Manager, Development Office; and Kristy Rousseau, CFRE, Director of Development, Laurentian University

Creating a culture of philanthropy is always a discussion topic within an advancement shop, but how important is it to make sure that your employees remain engaged, operate as a team, feel valued and most importantly, have fun and love what they do? The answer is integral to your success.

This session will review how hiring the right people, extensive on-boarding and a constant focus on employee engagement and people management will assist in running a successful advancement department.

Participants in this session will learn about the importance of:

  1. Hiring the right people and building resiliency.
  2. Establishing trust and remaining transparent.
  3. Employee engagement, recognition and rewards.

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Integrated acquisition campaigns: Challenges and successes

Laura Clark, Director, Annual Giving; and Emma Nguyen, Director, Online Marketing and Communications, University of Toronto

Every year 20% of annual donors and revenue are lost through attrition. Laura and Emma were tasked with developing U of T’s first fully integrated strategic acquisition campaign to tackle this problem. This presentation will discuss how, now in year two, social values marketing and other tools are used to define the target audience. It will show the innovative communications that include direct mail, e-mail, telefund and ads on Google, social media and in the alumni magazine. Most importantly, Laura and Emma will share the results, challenges and successes they faced during the process, and their plans for what’s next for the campaign.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Understand the process and development of an acquisition campaign at a university.
  2. Learn the various methods of integrated communication channels.
  3. Understand the challenges and successes of an acquisition campaign.

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Where in the world are our #ProudlyUNB alumni? How a creative UNB caricature helped locate and engage UNB alumni around the world

Natasha Rego, Young Alumni Coordinator; and Jenna Kennedy, Alumni Advancement Officer – Strategic Engagement, University of New Brunswick

Maintaining connections with alumni once they leave campus can be a major challenge; particularly in the early years following graduation, when alumni are relocating and their contact information is ever-changing. Through an innovative digital marketing campaign, UNB’s alumni office developed a fun caricature named Freddy John, who set out on a worldwide adventure to locate and engage with UNB’s “missing” alumni. He “traveled” the world over a 10-month period, connecting with UNB alumni through a series of digital communication pieces, collecting updated contact information from 6,000+ alumni in over 90 countries.

This session will cover:

  1. Getting started: How to encourage alumni to update their contact information and keep them engaged once they've connected.
  2. Delivering the message: Developing a comprehensive digital marketing plan to connect with alumni around the world.
  3. Now what? Using campaign analytics to strengthen ongoing alumni engagement and communication.

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Student-to-alumni-engagement: From a stand-alone party to a fulsome program

Alyson Gampel, Associate Director, Alumni Programs and Sonia Sheechoria, Alumni Engagement Officer, York University

A pilot expansion of York University's "GRADitude" activity from a stand-alone celebration event to a purposeful program is complete. GRADitude started as “an annual event that gives the University and its leading alumni contributors the opportunity to recognize, connect with and inspire the top athletes, scholars and contributors to student life among York’s graduating and upper-year students.” Now, the expanded “Student to Alumni GRADitude Program” seeks to help prepare graduating students to face the post-studies labour market and launch their careers, by connecting meaningfully with alumni who guide them. This offers a win-win solution to both student and young-alumni engagement.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Understand the purposes of student to young-alumni engagement.
  2. Learn how York U built upon a successful event to create a fulsome program accomplishing multiple goals.
  3. Gain ideas that can be leveraged by their institutions and learn some of the strategic and tactical challenges that York has faced.

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#UWaterloo60: Celebrating a milestone anniversary with your campus and community

Kelly McManus, Senior Director, Community Relations & Events, University of Waterloo

Celebrating a milestone anniversary is a time for pride and engagement - and your entire campus and community have a role to play. Learn how to make room for everyone to celebrate (aka: have fun while negotiating politics); host special events and leverage existing ones (aka:  manage budget, workload, and expectations); and develop a cohesive, creative communications strategy (aka: keep people excited for 365 days). From a kick-off community lecture with Edward Snowden to a year-end President's gala, and everything in between, we'll share the University of Waterloo experience.

Participants in this session will:

  1. Learn how to plan and deliver a creative, high-impact anniversary/ milestone celebration for their
  2. Learn to develop and implement a comprehensive integrated marketing and communications strategy for an anniversary/ milestone celebration.
  3. Identify ways to engage diverse audiences and stakeholders, both internal and external to their

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National Partners