SUMMARY: Thanks to all who have embraced the VAESE Alumni Relations Benchmarking Study. It has been cited in hundreds articles, and would not have succeeded without all who participated. (If you haven’t seen it, you can still get it free here.)  About a 3 minute read.  


The VAESE Alumni Relations Benchmarking study was released almost a year ago. To my surprise, it continues to elicit great interest among alumni/advancement professionals, and has been cited in numerous articles. To all who helped make it happen, I want to express my sincere appreciation.  

Our original goal of conducting the study was to help our company gain insights into the world of higher education advancement/alumni relations. At the time we had just launched Alumni Access, a tool aimed at helping alumni organizations attract and engage their alumni.  But we discovered sadly that we didn’t know as much as we thought. Worst of all, we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

My previous career was in alumni relations and advancement, having served as an alumni director, among other roles in higher education. Consequently, I had a bit of a head start in understanding how alumni organizations work, as well as some of the common challenges and obstacles. But I felt my understanding was not up to date. I wanted to learn more about how technology and other factors had changed the alumni relations landscape.

In my search for data, I found ample research focused on development/fundraising practices, but little if any data specifically about alumni relations and engagement practices. (Unless you were willing to pay handsomely for such data, which we were not.) I had to come up with a different plan.

I had published studies on consumer behavior and higher education. I figured, why not conduct our own comprehensive study, and ask the questions that matter most? And why not divulge the answers to these important questions that, up until now, have gone unasked, unpublished or hidden behind a paywall?

A big reason why we chose to release it for free relates to the one thing I have always admired about alumni relations professionals: our unique comradery. Where else can you attend a CAMMPWCMG or CASE conference where ideas are so freely shared? To my knowledge, I know of no other industry where colleagues are so willing to share their expertise and secrets with each other. (Maybe I’m a bit biased??)

So we launched our own study about the current issues and practices related to alumni relations and advancement. Once we collected and analyzed the data, we offered a free webinar to discuss our findings with our alumni relations colleagues.

What I didn’t expect was how much the study would be used, shared, dissected and analyzed by alumni/advancement professionals. Here is a sampling of some of over 250 articles citing the VAESE Alumni Relations Benchmarking Study:

We copyrighted the results with a less restrictive Creative Commons Attribution. This allows for remixing, repurposing and building upon this study, even commercially. But it cannot be sold without obtaining our permission. As long as the VAESE Alumni Benchmarking Study® was clearly and obviously credited, we said “help yourself to the data.”

While most references are in keeping with the copyright restriction, we’re seeing more and more commercial sites who are trying to sell the results of the study. While clearly they are in direct violation of the copyright terms, their goals are much more insidious. They use the study and it's keywords to drive traffic to their site. Then they ask for your personally identifiable information to verify that you are a real person and are "trackable." They say nothing about selling your information to the dark web, but they promise not to bill your card. Scout's honor. Cross their heart and hope do die...stick a needle in their eye. (If only!)

Sadly, policing these numerous violators has become a fool’s errand.

All I can do is warn you that if you would like to see this study, don’t pay for it, and most certainly don’t submit your credit card info to “validate” that you are a real person.

Simply click on these links:

2017 VEASE Alumni Relations Benchmarking Study & Alumni Staffing and Budget Benchmarks Whitepaper

Happy alumni engaging!


Topics: Alumni Relations & Engagement, alumni, institutional advancement, membership marketing, Discounts