An international report on what alumni want and expect from the relationship with their business school.

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1 Alumni Matters 2012: What Alumni Want An international report on what alumni want and expect from the relationship with their business school. September 2012 :: Andrew Crisp, Lesley Brown, Sarah Hardcastle E X E C U T IVE SUMMARY

2 carringtoncrisp CarringtonCrisp September 2012 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited without prior permission of the authors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission of CarringtonCrisp.

3 alumni matters Alumni are sometimes the most undervalued and underutilized asset available to a business school. A strong alumni network offers a business school many opportunities mentoring, attracting new students, speakers, a source of placements/jobs and fundraising. The Alumni Matters study sought to find out what alumni want in return. Research was conducted by CarringtonCrisp in partnership with the Association of Business Schools (ABS) and EFMD. Data was collected through an online questionnaire developed by CarringtonCrisp with Jackie Morgan, a former Alumni Relations Director and now a consultant on alumni relations. The questionnaire was available during May and June 2012, generating a total of 2570 responses. As well as seeking the views of current alumni, the survey was also open to those in their final year of study to understand their awareness of alumni relations and expectations of the services that might be provided. Of the total response, 1767 were alumni, 71% had completed a postgraduate degree and they were drawn from 90 different nationalities. Figure 1. Main reasons for being active in the alumni network Other To support my School To keep up to date with new business thinking Mentoring opportunities To access the online resources and databases To attendevents Forcommercial discounts To keep in touch with classmates To upload my CV/promote my experience To find new job opportunities To build a network to support my career/business.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% Alumnus PhD/DBA Other business Masters MBA part time/executive MBA full time Final year undergraduate 3

4 carringtoncrisp What alumni expect, may not be want alumni relations want Alumni have a clear view of the purpose of alumni relations, but it may not be the same as their business school. While many schools see alumni relations playing a role in fundraising, only 11% of alumni consider this to be the case. The same is true of current students, where less than 10% believe Its purpose will be largely fundraising for the Business School. The main purposes highlighted by alumni were facilitating friendships and business connections as well as fostering collaboration and networking among alumni and with their school. The lack of expectation of a fundraising purpose means that alumni relations will have to carefully sell this aspect of their work if it is to be successful. While in the USA alumni fundraising is well established as part of the business school culture, it will need an innovative approach if it is to make a significant contribution at business schools outside of the top-ranked institutions worldwide. Asked why they are active in the alumni network five reasons tend to be highlighted by both current students and alumni: To build a network to support my career/business To find new job opportunities To keep in touch with classmates To keep up to date with new business thinking To support my School Just under 40% of alumni are not involved with their alumni network because they are too busy with work and other commitments. A third of alumni suggest they are not active in the alumni network because they are unaware of the services for alumni. 9% 3% 8% Figure 2. Ease of financially supporting your business school 20% Very Easy Easy A little unclear how to support the School Difficult to make a contribution I find it almost impossible and have given up trying 60% 4

5 alumni matters Missing international alumni Another reason for lack of involvement is distance from a former school, which is especially true of international alumni. Finding virtual tools to enable international alumni involvement and maximising the use of staff time when on international recruitment activity or attending conferences will be a high priority for most schools. About 1 in 5 alumni say they are inactive because There are limited opportunities for international alumni to participate. It s not that I don t want to give, I just don t know where or how It s not only a lack of understanding about fundraising that is stopping alumni from making donations. Only 10% of the total alumni sample say they have made a financial contribution to their former school. The number providing non-financial support is higher at 20%. Close to three-quarters of alumni respondents in the study say they are unclear how to support their school. Some find it hard to know where to make a donation, others how to make a donation and more are uncertain about tax or legal questions. Making it easy, either online or off, with clear guidance is key to successful fundraising. Figure 3. Circumstances under which an alumnus might respond to a financial appeal from their business school I would support a financial appeal toprovidenew housing for students I would support a financial appeal if it reduced my tax bill I would support a financial appeal once my income has reached a certain level There is no circumstance under which I would support a financial appeal I would not support a financial appeal as I am already paying high fees for my degree I would support a financial appeal because I think it is the right thing to do I would support a financial appeal because I am proud of my School and what it stands for I would support a financial appeal because I had a good alumni experience I would support a financial appeal because I had a good experience as a student I would support a financial appeal because I want the reputation of my business school tobe enhanced I would support a financial appeal tosupport a new building programme I would support a financial appeal toprovide new technology for students I would support a financial appeal toensure continuing and wider access for future students 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly Agree 5

6 carringtoncrisp Giving is personal Motivation to give is often highly personal with the two most likely reasons for contributing being once personal income has reached a certain level or if it would reduce an individual tax bill. The good news for alumni relations teams is that only 20% agree that there were no circumstances under which they would make a financial contribution. Almost half of the alumni (47%) respondents indicate I would support a financial appeal if it reduced my tax bill while 40% agree or strongly agree I would support a financial appeal once my income has reached a certain level. Beyond personal motivation just under a third of the respondents agree or strongly agree that I would support a financial appeal because: I want the reputation of my business school to be enhanced I had a good experience as a student I am proud of my School and what it stands for Of course, a good experience as a student is always likely to make an alumnus more open to making a financial contribution. An alumnus will always want their School reputation to be enhanced the School name is on their CV forever more and a prospective employer will largely think of the School at the time of a job application rather than when the alumnus graduated. Figure 4. Usage of dedicated alumni pages on your business school website 13% 3% 36% All the time Sometimes I rarely use it Not at all 48% 6

7 alumni matters What you say, where you say it and how you say it Given the increased likelihood of making a contribution once income reaches a certain level, it is no surprise how important communication is with alumni. Many alumni rely on the electronic newsletter, which almost all schools provide, but there is a great variety in the quality of output. Newsletters with too many articles, with too few calls to action and with the most important messages hidden towards the end will add little to the alumni experience. Being clear what alumni want to hear about will enhance editorial content and interaction with alumni. Among the alumni taking part in the study, only 58% indicate they are in touch with their school, while 74% are in touch with fellow alumni. One of the first questions for alumni relations staff is how best to communicate with alumni. Many business schools have dedicated pages on their website with some of the information protected behind a user name and password, or linked to the university alumni web pages. Figure 5. Most valuable activities experience by alumni since graduation Other Cross cultural awareness Learning from other participants Individual friendships Career adviceand counselling Networking Personal development Professional development Placements/internships Project work Academic learning.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 7

8 carringtoncrisp However, these pages seem to be poorly used. Lack of use may be down to a number of reasons lack of awareness of the pages, site content that adds little value for the individual alumnus or preference for other types of communication. Almost half (47%) of alumni indicate they don t know if either the university or business school have dedicated pages on either website for alumni. Social network not school website Only 3% use alumni pages on school websites all the time, while 48% rarely use them and 13% never use them. By contrast, 74% of alumni use LinkedIn and 63% use Facebook. Many alumni probably log on first thing in the morning through a smart phone or tablet and remain on line for large parts of the day. Logging on to specialist alumni web pages on a business school or university website is a rather more cumbersome and long winded exercise and in most cases yields little of the social interaction that alumni get on the large public social networking sites. LinkedIn and Facebook may also offer an easier medium for international alumni to network. Only 5% of alumni indicate that they contact other alumni through Dedicated alumni pages on the university website, while 10% use School social media pages and 31% make use of Other social media websites Figure 6. Ways in which alumni could support their business school Other Mentor a current student Promote your School within my company/organisation Join a specialist alumni group Byoffering my practical experience/knowledge Provide internships/projects for current students Donatemoney tosupport specific strategicobjectives of your School Volunteer to help your Business School on key projects Acting as an ambassador to promote your School Offer advice toprospective students.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% Alumnus PhD/DBA Other business Masters MBA part time/executive MBA full time Final year undergraduate 8

9 alumni matters What s in it for me? One of the questions that alumni seem to ask regularly is What s in it for me? The most frequently received benefit, selected by 80% of respondents, was an electronic newsletter. Also popular were alumni reunions (39%), speaker events (38%) and social events (36%). A print newsletter/magazine was chosen by just over a quarter (26%) while business seminars were picked by 23%. However, the most valuable activities since graduation have involved personal development, professional development and academic learning. Increasingly there is a demand for continued learning to be offered online or in some other flexible way. Alumni want to continue growing, but rather than making a lengthy commitment to lifelong learning, they are seeking lifestyle learning which works around their lifestyle and delivers the lifestyle they want. Delivering development and learning is not always straightforward. For some schools this is done through taster sessions of existing programs or by offering discounts on courses for alumni. Increasingly, schools are turning to online delivery, which works particularly well for an international audience. It also offers the flexibility that many alumni seek. Entrepreneurship has become an important part of many business school degree curricula in recent years, however only 2% of alumni said they received business start-up/growth advice. Also significant for many business students has been the impact of a degree on their career, yet only 11% of alumni receive career services and support. In many other pieces of research undertaken by CarringtonCrisp prospective and current students have indicated that a career service available to alumni would be particularly valuable. Asked what are the most valuable career services, 48% of alumni say it is Access to information about job opportunities. The same view is shared by over half of all the current students responding to the survey. More than 30% of alumni also highlighted the value of: The opportunity to meet with or speak to an adviser Mentoring Putting my CV on a secure website that can be searched by employers 9

10 carringtoncrisp Been three, done that, ideal to help recruitment Asked how they might support their school in the future, the top answers among alumni were By offering my practical experience/knowledge (46%) and Offer advice to prospective students (48%). Asked specifically about answering questions from prospective students, nine out of ten respondents would do so, although some had concerns about how this might be managed. Options for schools include a virtual question and answer session at a specific time, having alumni at an open day/evening, having alumni on a stand at a fair or even allocating an alumnus to an individual applicant to guide them through the process. Alumni having been there and done that are in a strong position to validate the marketing messages that business schools put out to potential students. They can also set out clearly how their degree program helped them obtain their current career. Other areas where alumni feel they might support their business school in the future are: Acting as an ambassador to promote the school (31%) Mentor a current student (35%) Figure 7. Actions that an alumni relations team could take to quickly improve the alumni experience Other More events for families Better access to services for business provided by the school Integration between alumni and current students Coaching/mentoring services Podcasts from leading industry and academic speakers Knowledgeupdatestobuild on studies Enhanced access to research Morecommercial services/discounts for alumni Better provision for international alumni Joint alumni activities with other business schools Discounted membership of professional bodies Offer greater use of social media and online tools to enhance networking Provide online learning opportunities Offer larger discounts to alumni for further studies Provide stronger career support/enhanced career services Improve the/introduce a printed newsletter/magazine Improve the/introduce an electronicnewsletter Make improvements to/develop dedicated web pages.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0% 35.0% 10

11 alumni matters Both current students and alumni were asked about the future alumni relationship. Current students were asked what benefits they might expect and while an electronic newsletter was highlighted again, there were a host of other items raised. Alumni reunions, speaker events, social events and business seminars, career services and support, library access and access to research papers all stand out among many of the current student audiences. Alumni were specifically asked what actions could be taken to quickly improve the relationship with their former school. The main request, sought by 32% of respondents, was providing online learning opportunities, followed by 27% who wanted their school to provide stronger career support/enhanced career services. Around 1 in 5 alumni also highlighted Enhanced access to research and Coaching/mentoring services. Building strong alumni relationships doesn t mean jumping straight to an American model with a strong focus on fundraising. The results of the Alumni Matters study demonstrate that alumni are keen to engage with their school, but fundraising is unlikely to be high on their agenda. Building a relationship that works for both sides, with benefits for current and future students as well, is likely to deliver an outcome that in time also produces financial benefits from an alumni network. Participating schools in Alumni Matters 2012: Henley Business School, University of Reading Hertfordshire Business School, University of Hertfordshire Kingston Business School, Kingston University London HEC Lausanne, University of Lausanne Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University The University of Sheffield Management School University of Stellenbosch Business School UCD School of Business/UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School/UCD Quinn School of Business The full report costs 180 plus VAT (where applicable). To order a copy please CarringtonCrisp at or call on +44 (0)

12 European Foundation for Management Development rue Gachard 88 box 3 B-1050 Brussels, Belgium Telephone: + 32 (0) Website: The Association of Business Schools 137 Euston Road, London NW1 2AA, United Kingdom Telephone: Website: CarringtonCrisp 34 Ladbroke Square London W11 3NB, United Kingdom Telephone: +44 (0) Website:

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