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Embracing a New Era in Alumni and Donor Communications. Constituent Relations in an E-World Washington DC, USA March 13, 2003. Andrew K. Tiedemann Communications Director Alumni Affairs and Development Harvard University. Questions to Ask. How do we define engagement?

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Embracing a New Era in

Alumni and Donor Communications

Constituent Relations in an E-World

Washington DC, USA

March 13, 2003

Andrew K. Tiedemann

Communications Director

Alumni Affairs and Development

Harvard University

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Questions to Ask

  • How do we define engagement?

  • Can it be measured?

  • How much do we know about our alumni and their engagement levels?

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Potential Engagement Indicators

Cares about you

Reads your publications, visits the alumni website (is well informed)

Stays in touch with classmates

Files class notes

Participates in class events

Attends local club events

Gives at levels appropriate to capacity

Serves as a volunteer in some way

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What We Know

  • 309,000 alumni

  • 260,000 postal addresses

  • 110,000 email addresses

  • Harvard College Class Reports

  • Giving history

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Alumni Attitudes

“How informed are you about Harvard today?”

% = College respondents










Not informed

Somewhat informed

Very informed

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Harvard Alumni Online

  • 93% with email

  • 57% visit alumni website

  • Connection to classmates

  • Access to intellectual content

  • Career mentoring

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What Harvard Has Online

  • Harvard Monthly Email

  • [email protected]

  • Post.Harvard Community

  • Online Directory

  • Club and Class Website Hosting

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What’s Missing?

  • Individual engagement levels

  • Individual interests

  • Life stage histories

  • Correlation of involvement and giving

  • Measurability of existing programs

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Smart Investments





AA&D Resource Allocation

Lifetime Engagement Index

Lifetime Giving Value

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Metrics Model

Institutional ROI

  • Summary Data – Giving

  • Raised – New Gifts and Pledges by School, Fiscal Year

  • Received – Gift Receipts by School, Fiscal Year

  • Giving consistency – University-wide by Fiscal Year

  • Year end pledge balances by School, Fiscal Year

  • Scale of gifts – University Wide by Fiscal Year

  • Giving vehicles

  • Donor constituency

  • Economic indicators of Development Environment (Calendar Year)

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Metrics Model

Institutional ROI

  • Summary Data – Engagement

  • Engagement opportunities

  • Number of donors by School

  • Reunion attendance

  • Other alumni affairs events

  • Memberships

  • Continuing education

  • Lost alumni counts

  • Alumni attitudes

  • Online activities

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One to One

  • Build lifetime profile for each alumnus/alumna

  • Capture self-identified interests

  • Personalize all messaging

  • Record all contacts online and off

  • Create engagement indices

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Alumni Profile

Channels of alumni communication aresources of information:

  • Classmates on giving committees

  • Volunteers on numerous other committees

  • Class notes

  • Class reports

  • Phonathon calls (both students and volunteers)

  • Surveys

  • Club associations

  • Other involvement

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Alumni Profile

Types of information to consider:

  • Professional information

  • Marital and family information

  • Other Harvard affiliations

  • Salutations

  • Interests

  • Personal Harvard experiences

  • Reasons for giving or not giving

  • Communication preferences

  • Participation/engagement with Harvard

  • Volunteer activities, across the University, in all areas Email received

  • Print mail received

  • Phone call received

  • Responses/lack thereof

  • Messaging

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Alumni Relationship Management

Capture all alumni communication channels

























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Engagement by Segment

Engagement Indices

Age Group



20s 30s 40s 50s 60s 70s

  • Disengaged

  • Passive Engaged

  • Active Engaged

  • Leaders











Source: Charlie Cardillo, Andy Tiedemann, and Jonathan Byrnes

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How Can We Improve Affinity?


Expressed by Giving:


Expressed by Engagement:

Attendance and Leadership

  • Use Data to:

  • Better understand the nature of affinity expressed by one’s gift giving

  • Better understand the evolution of affinity over time

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Donor Relationship Metric: Annual and Accumulated Participation

Fully 75% of the Undergraduate Alumni base contributed to Harvard over the period while 44% contributed in ‘00

Challenge: How to increase frequency of giving?

Source: Connie Cervilla, Core Group

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Recent Retention of Alumni Donors

In ’02, Alumni donors giving more frequently had higher retention rates than less frequent donors.

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Recent Reactivation of Alumni Donors

In ’02, Alumni donors who gave in recent years were “reactivated” at much higher rates than those dormant for more years.

Finding: Frequency correlates to retention over the short term.

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Components of Alumni Donor Value

  • Size of the Alumni donor base & its growth – Participation

* Challenges: Younger classes & recent donor growth

  • Size of the gift – Gift size & its evolution over time

* Challenges: Encourage frequent giving & tailor the message to the sequence of gift

  • Retention of the Alumni donors – Reactivation & Attrition

*Challenges: Encourage frequent giving & convert first time donors to a second gift

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Alumni AssociationObjectives

  • Measure effectiveness

  • Gauge resource productivity

  • Target segments with programs

  • Create market-oriented support systems

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Project Overview

  • Establish a baseline by program and School

    • Cost

    • Segments

    • Engagement

2. Map onto ladder of engagement and analyze

  • 3. Design – implement supporting systems

    • Analytical system

    • Operational system

  • 4. Refine Association activities using the new information

    • marketing/outreach

    • portfolio of programs

    • program operations

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The Ladder of Engagement

Alumni overall

Class notes



Travel study






Very Active




  • Which programs affect which segments?

  • Which programs move alumns up the ladder (at each level)?

  • Which programs are most productive for which segments?

  • What is the best portfolio of programs to maximize engagement?

Source: Charlie Cardillo

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Program Evaluation

A. Data Feeds

C. Planning


  • Program/Activity Sources

  • University-Wide

  • College

  • Graduate School

  • Clubs

  • Classes

  • Vendors

  • Analysis/Targeting

  • Engagement Metrics

  • Profiling/Modeling

  • Resource Productivity

  • Gap Analysis

  • Program Portfolio

  • Prioritization

  • Cost/Benefit – Budgets

  • Program Activity

  • Production

  • Class Reports

  • Travel Study

  • Reunions

  • Regional Events

  • Club Activities

Source: Charlie Cardillo

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Value to Alumni

  • Access to shared interest groups

  • Relevant message/content

  • Peer-to-peer communication

  • Life stage programming

  • Involvement opportunities

  • Fun, lifelong friendships

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Value to the University

  • Develop segment-appropriate engagement programs

  • Measure program effectiveness

  • Integrate online and real-time

  • activities

  • Increase engagement

  • Identify leaders

  • Ability to survey opinions by numerous segmentations

  • Resource-allocation indicators

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Engagement Process Overview



Obtain HAA







Set up









In Process

In Process

In Process

In Process



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Obtain Data – Clubs On-line Participation

2003 –

20 Clubs

2004 –

40 Clubs

2005 –

All Clubs

  • HC – DC

  • HC – Denver

  • HC – Maryland

  • HC – San Francisco

  • HC – Silicon Valley

  • HC – So. California

  • HC – UK

  • 11 more HC

  • 2 HBS Clubs (Toronto, Dallas)

  • HC – Boston

  • HC – New York

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Harvard Club of Chicago

  • Alumni within a 40 mile radius

  • Member = 1,397 in 2002

  • 16.8% “market share”

  • 30% of members have College degree

  • 76.6% renewal: why did 24% leave?

  • 10+ years from graduation = 17.4%

  • 10<years from graduation = 13%

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Club Membership Now

Participation: (acquisition, retention, and reactivation)

  • Do not capture club membership history

  • Track self-reported data on membership composition and club practices per annual survey of club presidents

  • Provide updated regional contact lists for snail mail

  • Produce clubs directory and give out to College seniors when the pick up Commencement Tickets

  • Provide website hosting (template) and online listing of club websites

Transition: (Moving Club Members)

  • Nothing

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Club Membership In a Knowledge Managed Environment

Participation: (acquisition, retention, and reactivation)

  • Individual Harvard Club (potentially HBS and HLS clubs) membership history data captured through online membership registration

  • Identify members and profile them by tenure, activity, interests

  • Establish baseline membership and event programming standards

  • Customize membership appeals based on program participation and interest data for members and non-members

  • Help clubs establish membership appeal frequency strategy based on member loyalty profiles

  • Share membership data with other schools to inform their regional programming

  • Inform the development prospect profiles to enhance research efforts and predictive modeling

  • Push online membership registration to graduating students before they leave campus

  • Create loyalty recognition program

  • Provide data to clubs on alumni who move to their area who were club members in the city they left

Transition: (Moving Club Members)

  • Provide data to clubs on alumni who move to their area who were club members in the city they left

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Club ProgrammingNow

  • Support Clubs’ Annual Dinner programs through Speakers Bureau Program

  • Facilitate Harvard-Yale Telecast

  • Work with club leadership to promote University- wide membership

  • Broadcast advertising

  • Most Club events not open to non-members

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Club ProgrammingIn a Knowledge Managed Environment

  • Programming targeted toward member interests

  • Programming targeted toward non-member interests

  • Personalized communications

  • Online event registration

  • Program benchmarking across clubs

  • Tie club programming with Harvard sports in their club region

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Club AdministrationNow

  • Provide Clubs manual to encourage standard practices

  • Online membership and Event Registration Prototype launched to gather data

  • Most Club administration done at the local level either by a paid administrator or by volunteers

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Club AdministrationIn a Knowledge Managed Environment

  • Club administrator tools provided by HAA to facilitate membership and event registration, communication and list segmentation; integrated with central database.

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MIT Alumni Association

  • Total alumni population: 110,000

  • Student population: 10,000 graduate & undergraduate

  • Approximately 100 alumni clubs worldwide

  • 6,000 alumni volunteer each year

  • 33% participate in Alumni Fund

  • Infinite Connection: Used by 46% of all alums, features include alumni directory, email lists, career services

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MIT’s Technology

Five years ago, MIT’s Alumni Association used technology the same way everyone else uses it now:

  • Central alumni database

  • Clubs/association depts. also used Filemaker and Excel

  • Alumni website launched in 1995

  • Web limited to number of registrants, email addresses on file

  • Marketing

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MIT’s New Metrics

  • Clubs, Alumni Association staff and alumni now enter all data into a central resource

  • Event and marketing activity is also recorded, not only by number but also by type

  • All program activities and events are assigned an activity code

  • All marketing pieces – print and email – are also assigned codes

  • The result: Any activity can be measured against any other activity, demographic group or marketing piece.

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Goals of MIT Alumni Metrics

  • Measure effectiveness of programs

  • Measure effectiveness of email and print marketing

  • Examples: Costa Rica trip, graduate alumni marketing, alumni leadership conference

  • Measure ROI of programs and marketing, better allocate resources: MIT on the Road

  • Correlate alumni activities with giving

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MIT’s Best Practices

  • Start with a small team

  • Build up support for the project – clubs and departments will benefit greatly from advanced metrics

  • Recognize primary issues – databases

  • Determine why you want to work with advanced metrics

  • Launch a pilot project

  • Designate translators

  • Make sure all groups use the same standards to report and interpret their metrics

  • Don’t go overboard with releasing data

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Andrew K. Tiedemann

Communications Director

Alumni Affairs and Development

Harvard University

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 617-495-5945