Higher Education Institutions Must Evolve Alumni Engagement Strategies During COVID-19, says Survey Data from Anthology

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Advancement Survey Findings Show Nearly Two-Thirds of College Graduates Interested in Supporting Current Students During Pandemic, Younger Alumni Seeking Career Resources

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"Based on data from the survey, institutions can deepen alumni connections by segmenting their approaches, being responsive to shifting communication preferences and offering career support and stronger links to current students," said Jim Milton, CEO of Anthology.

Anthology, a leading provider of proven higher education solutions that support the entire learner lifecycle, today announced the key findings of its recent survey about alumni engagement trends during the pandemic. Conducted to help higher education institutions better understand shifting opportunities for strengthening relationships with graduates during COVID-19, the survey of over 17,000 alumni provides insights into new strategies for improved alumni engagement and advancement.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the ways that universities must engage with and support their graduates to meaningfully build relationships and support evolving fundraising strategies,” said Jim Milton, CEO of Anthology. “Based on data from the survey, institutions can deepen alumni connections by segmenting their approaches, being responsive to shifting communication preferences and offering career support and stronger links to current students.”

Continued Interest in Supporting Institutions During COVID-19
A key finding was that although nearly one-quarter of respondents reported being furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic, over one-third of respondents indicated interest in information about supporting their respective university and its students during this time. Respondents expressed particular interest in supporting students, such as through student emergency funds or annual fund contributions. One-quarter of respondents indicated they had made a gift to their respective institution in the current year.

Graduates Want Regular Communication
Additionally, the survey showed that alumni overwhelmingly prefer to receive regular communication from their institution. The majority of respondents indicated they receive more than one email per month but less than one email per week, and four out of five of them felt this was the right amount of communication. As far as preferred content, graduates indicated that they are currently most interested in updates about students and the situation on campus (54% of respondents), followed by news about classmates (46%), and information on alumni networking opportunities (41%).

Virtual Events Take Center Stage
While in-person events were the norm prior to March, virtual alumni events saw an uptick in interest, with 41% of respondents indicating that they are somewhat or very likely to attend a virtual event this fall. All told, two-thirds of these respondents said they are more likely to participate in a virtual event now than before the pandemic.

Alumni Seeking Career-Related Resources
Findings also highlighted a spike in career-related topic interest, with one-third of overall respondents and half of recent alumni (graduated between 2011 and 2020) indicating a desire for career-related resources. Among respondents interested in career-related information, networking opportunities and job postings garnered the most interest.

Alumni Connection to Current Students Critical
Another major takeaway was that alumni value having a connection to the present student body, with nearly 60% of overall respondents and 70% of recent alumni respondents expressing interest in helping current students. For overall respondents, the areas of highest interest included speaking to students about career-related information, followed by sending students words of encouragement. Being a mentor was of interest to nearly half of respondents.

Anthology’s alumni survey targeted U.S. adults with at least a four-year degree. Data was collected through a nationwide survey conducted in June 2020 using a national survey platform and through dissemination by 19 U.S. universities in August and September 2020 to their respective graduates. 17,362 responses were considered valid and used in the analysis. For more detail on the survey findings, please visit Anthology’s alumni engagement report.

About Anthology
Campus Labs, Campus Management and iModules have joined together to form Anthology. We exist to help higher education advance and thrive. Through a connected data experience that offers a holistic view, creates efficiencies, and provides intelligence, Anthology inspires constituents to reach their full potential using technology insights in admission and enrollment management; student success and retention; institutional and learning effectiveness; alumni and advancement; and enterprise applications and infrastructure. Anthology partners with more than 2,100 colleges and institutions in over 30 countries to address the needs of all constituents in higher education. Visit us at http://www.anthologyinc.com.

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Ashley Prince
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