Last month, we looked at challenges that large Alumni programs face. Now we look at issues that may plague smaller alumni programs.
The number one challenge for small alumni programs are resources. To get tangible results, direct involvement with alumni would be more important because simply, there are fewer people. You'll need to maximize the value each alumni member plays in the program. Smaller programs typically have smaller budgets, smaller staff, may or may not have technology - specifically designed for managing alumni.
Solutions:Divide alumni into two distinct categories: low-touch, high-touch. Determine what basic services and communications will go to all alumni. When designing communication and process think about your two groups.
- Low-touch. You may create a low-touch, or "everyone else" category. These are individuals that the organization will continue to share information with and invite to participate in the program, but in reality this a more programmatic activity. The ROI on this group should be identified appropriately and separately when measuring and thinking about, or discussing, your alumni program with your internal leadership and executive committee. They're important, but let's be realistic - resources only go so far, and for this group we are clear what the program is about: keeping in touch.
- High-touch. This is something special. These are individuals who you may segment into several categories, each category having a few - to hundreds - of members. Small program administers work closely with internal stakeholders to get the most value out of the activities and transactions with each member. For example, VIP Retirees. These individuals have retired from the organization but have some important market position, customer relationships, importance to the organization/firm. They may even help the program administer engage other alumni. Internal stakeholders may have direct access because of your work and value for all parties is understood. These notables have their own line in your reporting for their potential ROI. Another example would be "high flyers." These are your A-game players who left the firm for another organization, maybe even a competitor and you now become the conduit to ensure the relationship between the organization and the high-flyer remains enact. You may assign a mentor, internally, who will stay in touch with this person, track them in their career, and invite them back for new potential positions.