(2nd in a series)
In our latest update to our widely read alumni engagement and giving stats page, we present the second installment of our two-part series. This time, we delve into 12 crucial new statistics surrounding alumni giving, membership, and benefits. Take a look at our first article in the series here for more insights.
About a 3 minute read
We just updated our popular stats page: The Ultimate Collection of Statistics for Alumni Engagement, Giving and Membership.
As I look at some of the new data, I’d like to point out 12 new stats about alumni giving, membership, and benefits; some that could change how you approach your job in the coming months.
- An estimated 90% of institutions report one number to CASE/CAE and another (higher) number to USN&WR, even though both numbers are supposed to be identical. (Giving Institute)
This statistic, which I have sourced from a reliable secondary source, serves to highlight the extent to which many institutions are willing to manipulate their giving numbers in order to secure a high ranking with USN&WR. This trend is particularly prevalent among institutions where rankings hold significant influence over recruiting, corporate giving, grants, and other areas. There has been extensive discussion about the issue of institutions misreporting their statistics, so I won't dwell on it further.
It's no secret that alumni giving and participation rankings have become an unhealthy obsession. Unfortunately, this has turned alumni into mere pawns in the race to win these rankings. Many institutions are guilty of bombarding alumni with constant solicitations, while neglecting to cultivate a meaningful relationship. As a result, alumni are disengaging from their alma mater at alarming rates. It's a heartbreaking situation that can and should be changed.
What do the latest stats say about alumni giving and participation rates?
- Nationally, the median alumni participation rate for public institutions has hovered around 5% since 2014. For private institutions, the rate has dropped from 20% in 2014, to roughly 17% last year. (Blackbaud)
- Total donor counts have declined an average of one half of one percent (-.5%) since 2014. The trajectory for total donors continues its downward trend. (Blackbaud)
- The average rate at which lapsed donors reactivate (give again) has declined three percent (-3%) since 2014 for private schools. Public institutions struggle more, with a 4.8% drop in growth in lapsed donors choosing to give again. (Blackbaud)
It's time to retire outdated and ineffective fundraising techniques that have lost their impact. Instead, let's redirect some of the funds raised from alumni and invest in programs that provide meaningful value and foster lifelong engagement. It's crucial to prioritize building lasting relationships with alumni, rather than solely focusing on short-term fundraising goals driven by rankings.
Alumni Membership & Benefits
- 34% of Millennials don’t join membership programs because the enrollment process is too long. (Business Insider)
How long is your enrollment process to join or give online? Are you asking for information you already know? Is your process causing friction because you think you only have one chance to gather vital data from your alumni?
If your enrollment process is causing Millennial alumni to abandon their giving or joining, it’s a sure bet all your other alumni are annoyed by it as well. Keep the process super simple. Name. Email. Billing info. Resist the temptation to gather ancillary information that’s not critical to the enrollment/giving process. Reach out at a later time to complete your member/donor profile.
- 78% of alumni prefer to access their alumni benefits online, compared with 22% who want their benefits sent by mail. (Virtual Incentives)
It's time to say goodbye to the traditional alumni benefit fulfillment kit. Alumni are saying no to printed materials, not only because of environmental concerns but also because it's simply more practical. Our smartphones have become the ultimate digital tool for managing our lives, making digital delivery of benefits the most convenient option for the majority of alumni. After all, a whopping 91% of college graduates own a smartphone (according to Pew). If your organization doesn't offer enough benefits that truly matter to your alumni, it's time to start here and make a change.
If your organization is resistant to adopting a non-printed solution for delivering alumni benefits, perhaps the issue lies with the personal preferences of those in charge.
. See our article here about The Digital Generation Gap in Alumni Relations.
- 75% of your alumni/constituents would engage more with their organization if the benefits information were mobile-friendly. (Code Broker)
In our previous article (New Data Trends That Should Matter to Alumni Professionals) we highlighted the stats that alumni want a mobile app to better engage with their alma mater. This statistic underscores that reality. We know of at least one alumni mobile engagement app that can help you attract and engage your alumni.
- 63% of consumers say they modify their spending habits to maximize the benefits from their membership program. (Bond)
This statistic demonstrates the eagerness of alumni to actively participate in your alumni discount program. When alumni are presented with a benefit that allows them to save on their everyday purchases, they will willingly adjust their behavior to maximize the value they receive.
In order to motivate your alumni to engage, it is essential that the benefit is relevant to their needs and preferences. What constitutes a relevant benefit? It should be conveniently accessible to them, address a specific problem they may have, be user-friendly, and offer significant value. If a benefit fails to meet these criteria, it can be considered ineffective and unappealing.
(See this article about the 7 Lamest Alumni Benefits.)
- Just 19% of alumni/constituents report an organization’s representatives made them feel special and recognized. (MGI)
- 16% of organizations have a volunteer or staff member call new members to welcome them to the organization. (MGI)
I can't help but wonder how many more alumni we could engage if we made a stronger personal connection with them. I understand that this can be challenging, especially for larger organizations. However, I have seen some organizations successfully enlist volunteers to make personalized "welcome aboard" calls to alumni who have recently joined, engaged, or made a donation. I know it's a lot of work and may seem thankless, but alumni are particularly eager to hear from you within the first 72 hours of their initial engagement. It might be worth conducting an A/B test to see if alumni are more likely to stay engaged or make additional donations if they receive a personal call. I have a strong belief that the results will overwhelmingly support the idea of making personal calls.
- 39% of Millennials report they don’t join or engage with an organization they like, simply because it requires the payment of a fee. (Business Insider)
- Baby Boomers make up 14% of the population, but comprise 36% of most membership organization’s constituency. Although Millennials make up the largest cohort, consisting of 30% of the overall population, they comprise just 19% of most organizations’ members. (Brookings)
I have previously discussed why it is beneficial for alumni organizations to steer clear of or eliminate their dues-paying membership structure, and these statistics provide further support for my argument. The number of Baby Boomers is declining at a faster rate than other age groups, while Millennials are generally less inclined to join any type of membership organization. Therefore, if your objective is to engage younger alumni, it is important to entice them with valuable and relevant benefits that do not require a membership fee. (See Run Away From Your Dues-Paying Alumni Program).