8 Crucial Alumni Data Points Your School Needs to Know
For many schools, the institution’s alumni are some of its most significant supporters—especially when it comes to fundraising initiatives. After all, these individuals know firsthand the impact the school has on its students, faculty, and community at large. But what the school knows about this group (i.e., which alumni data points it has access to) can play a massive role in the extent of its alumni fundraising success.
In this quick guide, we’ll share eight key pieces of data we recommend any school prioritizes in its data hunt. These include:
- Contact Information
- Matching Gift Eligibility
- Volunteer Grant Eligibility
- Wealth Level
- Graduation Year
- Major or Degree Program
As a school fundraiser, the more you know about any of your donors and supporters, the better your school will be able to target these individuals in your communications, donation requests, and more.
It’s a good idea to start with alumni of your institution, but by no means are these the only group for which you should seek out this information.
Let’s begin our first, and perhaps most fundamental, data point.
1. Contact Information
Without an individual’s contact information, you’ll hardly be able to reach out with fundraising and other engagement opportunities. Here are some of the most essential pieces of contact data to prioritize:
- Phone number
- Home address
- Social media handle(s)
Luckily, some of these alumni data points may still be available from the contact’s time as a student at your institution. Alternatively, individuals may have subscribed to your school’s newsletter, registered for text message updates, or interacted with your team on social media.
However, keep in mind that this information should be regularly updated, as contact information (particularly things like home addresses) tends to change fairly often, especially after graduation.
An alum’s employment information is one of the most crucial pieces of data you can have in terms of fundraising and targeted engagement—especially pertaining to corporate fundraising and workplace giving opportunities. For example, having this information on record will enable your team to maximize matching gift and volunteer grant opportunities, identify companies that employ multiple alumni as key partnership potential, and even determine the geographic location of your institution’s former students.
Although the significant data point here is knowing the company an individual works for, it can also boost your alumni profile to have detailed information about their role, how long they’ve been employed at the business, and more.
A few of the most common ways to locate this data point include email domain screening (e.g., scan your alumni contact information for email addresses like “email@example.com), third-party employer appending services, matching gift software, and more.
3. Matching Gift Eligibility
The following two points rely heavily on the previously secured piece of information—an alumni’s employer.
Corporate giving initiatives such as matching gift programs (and volunteer grants discussed below) are offered by thousands of companies, large and small, across a wide range of industries. Alumni donors working for these companies are often eligible to request a matching donation from their employer when they give to your school—or any qualifying cause.
Once you know the company an alumnus works for, you can easily determine their matching gift eligibility. There are a few ways to do this as well. First, you may manually research a corporation’s matching gift programs offered (e.g., an online search of “Google’s employee matching gift program” results in plentiful information on the tech company’s matching criteria and submission request process). Many enterprise-level corporations will have their gift-matching guidelines accessible this way.
The easier way for companies of all sizes, however, is to utilize an intuitive matching gift database. This way, the user—whether your school or an alumnus themself—can conduct a search of thousands of companies to locate ones’ specific matching gift program guidelines.
4. Volunteer Grant Eligibility
Corporate volunteer grants are another impactful form of workplace giving program that your alumni may be eligible to participate in. Although volunteer grants (also known as dollars for doers) are a bit less common than matching gifts, research shows that 85% of the top matching gift companies also offer volunteer grant programs.
So again, knowing your alumni’s employment information can help you determine their volunteer grant eligibility. And if you have an existing group of alumni volunteers, you can even take a closer look at their employers’ volunteer grant guidelines. For example, take a look at the number of hours volunteered that makes an individual eligible to request a grant, as well as the size of the grant you can expect.
5. Wealth Level
Knowing any donor, alumnus, or prospect’s capacity to give can be of extreme value when crafting fundraising asks and personalizing communications. You don’t want to ask so highly of an individual that the request is far out of their giving ability, as that answer is sure to be a “no.” On the other hand, lowballing donation requests for particularly wealthy alumni are likely to result in available revenue left on the table.
But how exactly can you know what an alumnus is capable of giving? An individual’s employment information can come into play here as well. For example, if you determine that an alumnus of your school is the CEO of a decent-sized company, that person may be a possible contender for future major gifts!
Additionally, your school may choose to utilize prospect research and wealth screening to locate this information. These types of tools typically scan donor or alumni information against a series of comprehensive databases that incorporate details such as real estate ownership, stock holdings, previous giving, and more.
6. Graduation Year
More than likely, you still have access to your students’ graduation years—which can help you gauge your alumni’s age or generation. Once you have these key alumni data points, they can be a big help in terms of ensuring targeted and personalized messaging with your donors and prospects.
For example, the types of platforms you use to engage alumni can vary drastically depending on whether the target individual graduated in the past year (e.g., might be active on TikTok and likely to participate in online giving) or over a half a century ago (may respond better to a physical newsletter and prefer to write a paper check).
An individual’s graduation year may also provide you with insight surrounding how far an alumnus is into their career. While a brand-new graduate might not be particularly experienced or connected in their industry, an alumn who graduated decades ago may be in a better position to give and to drive your school’s philanthropy forward.
7. Major or Degree Program
For colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions, an individual’s major or degree is another key alumni data point that you will likely have on record. In terms of fundraising, this information can significantly impact the types of campaigns an alumnus may be interested in supporting.
For example, an individual who graduated from a school’s engineering program may be particularly invested in helping fund a “Future Scientists of Tomorrow” scholarship. On the other hand, a fine arts graduate will likely be more inclined to support the art program’s new building expansion.
Like an alumnus being more likely to support the major or degree program they graduated from, knowing their other interests (such as religious involvement, political affiliations, clubs participated in, and more) can help in the same vein.
But an individual’s hobbies and interests can be even more valuable than in terms of the fundraising asks you choose to send their way. The more you know about a person, the better you can craft your communication strategy in a way that will appeal to them and further develop your relationship.
As far as the interests an alumnus has, be sure to include relevant details as a note on their constituent record in your CRM. This may be information you picked up through personal engagement with the individual, online research, or other data-seeking strategies.
Now that you know what kinds of information to seek, it’s time to enact a plan to uncover these particular alumni data points and more.
More than likely, you already have some of the essentials—if only the individual’s name, graduation year, and major. Now, begin filling out the rest of the puzzle pieces with strategic engagement practices and tools such as corporate giving software, data appending services, and online research. Good luck!
Learn more about how your school can better engage with your alumni and locate the information you need with another SchoolMoney guide at https://www.schoolmoney.org/ways-to-find-alumni-employment-data/.