Summary: The recent VAESE survey reveals 14 key statistics to help explain the current state of alumni relations in higher education.  About a 3 minute read.


The new VAESE study has given us a wealth of intriguing data to delve into.  I have compiled a list of 14 crucial statistics that shed light on the current state of alumni relations (plus a few bonus stats for good measure!)


Alumni Communication

8.8         Average institutional opt-out or “churn” rate.  It measures the percent of alumni who ask to be listed as “Do Not Call” “Do Not Contact”, “Do Not Solicit,” etc.  This new higher rate reflects a a slight decrease over our last study in 2020.

73       The percent of alumni organizations that have instituted enhanced digital communication strategies as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

31       Percent of alumni organizations that do not track or do not know their opt-out rates. If your organization is one of those that ignore or neglect your opt-out trends, you’re wasting a lot of time, effort and resources. See this article about churn rates for alumni organizations.


Alumni Programming and Benefits

98           Percent decline in the number of average dues-paying members.  Our study shows the average number of members went from 62,719 members in 2016, to 31,686 in 2024. 

91           Percent of alumni organizations who choose not to offer alumni benefits, or who report they see little or no engagement from the benefits they do offer.  In fact, two out of three institutions (67%) believe that appealing to alumni loyalty and philanthropy is all that’s needed to motivate their alumni to engage/join/give.  While the majority of alumni organizations don’t focus on trying to incentivize alumni to engage, the data shows that opt-out rates and poor engagement rates (especially among young alumni) are likely lagging indicators that show institutions aren’t making a strong enough case for support among their alumni.

75          Percent of alumni professionals who believe their organization needs to update the technology solutions/benefits they offer their alumni/ae.  These two stats indicate a correlation between engaging young alumni and offering technology tools that are popular among younger audiences.

28          Percent of alumni organizations that do not offer any benefits to their alumni, but rely solely on alumni/ae loyalty, nostalgia, and/or philanthropic generosity to motivate alumni to engage/join/give. 

16          Percent of alumni organizations that have added new, compelling benefits to help them better attract and engage their alumni. 

6              Percent of alumni organizations that report the benefits they offer have a strong influence on alumni engagement.  While only a small percentage of alumni organizations offer engaging benefits, surprisingly most are NOT dues-paying organizations. Many of these alumni organizations use benefits as a tool to attract, incentivize and engage alumni.  See our article here about the 3 Highest Rated (not lame) Alumni Benefits.



73         Percent of alumni organizations that are integrated with institutional fundraising, or are working toward integration.  3% report they are not integrated and have no plans to integrate. The assimilation of alumni relations and institutional fundraising is an ongoing trend that we’ve written about previously. The most recent survey indicates that trend continues.

5.8             Average number of solicitations larger higher education institutions send to new graduates within the first twelve months after graduation. (A large alumni organization we define as having 10 or more employees dedicated to alumni engagement.) This practice of aggressively soliciting new graduates raises ongoing questions how cultivation and engagement efforts can take a back seat to the demands of fundraising.  See my article:  When Development Treats Alumni Like Their ATM.


Alumni Professional’s Anxiety Index

74     Percent of alumni professionals who report that being understaffed is either “very” or “somewhat” concerning. 

51        Percent of alumni professionals who report that a “general lack of alumni engagement” is a significant concern. This is down 5% from our 2020 study. 

52        Percent of alumni professionals who report they fear their alumni relations budget will be cut.  This is up 40% since our first study in 2016.

43           Percent of alumni professionals are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the lack of strategic leadership in their alumni organization. With the previous stat regarding lack of engagement, and this stat regarding concerns about strategic leadership, the digital generation gap may be at the root of the problem. See this article for more details.

5             Percent of alumni professionals are very concerned about losing their job.  83% of alumni professionals report “little” or “no concern” about losing their job.  Despite some of these discouraging trends and challenges we face, alumni professionals enjoy job security and are pretty darn fortunate to work in such a positive and rewarding industry.


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Topics: Alumni Relations & Engagement, alumni, membership marketing, alumni benefits, VAESE

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For 25+ years Gary Toyn has helped organizations large and small improve their constituent/member acquisition, retention and engagement. He's a multi-published author, writer, and researcher.

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