Does your institution want to strengthen its academic presence abroad? Are there goals for diversifying the student body by recruiting more international students? Is a primary goal to encourage more giving from alumni overseas?
These goals are often intertwined as this figure illustrates. How do the “four pillars of engagement” fit into your institution’s goals and strategy? Is the strategy to develop and support admissions efforts, alumni communities, academic programs and partnerships, all in an effort to build a strong case for support? Can the three “A’s” (admissions, alumni and academics), and their relevant activity abroad, provide enough evidence to institutional leadership, prospective students and prospective donors that they should support a strengthened presence in a particular region of the world? Can the three “A’s” lead to an increase in participation?
International Alumni Relations is about Relationships
Alumni relations has the opportunity to facilitate “Brand Management 101” by building relationships with alumni who want to give back their time, talent or treasure to different areas of the institution. We recognize that managing the institutional brand abroad is a high priority for schools, colleges and universities worldwide. International alumni volunteers play an important role in helping maintain their alma mater’s reputation. Whether international alumni volunteer to help organize chapter events, interview prospective students from their region, or mentor students studying abroad in their home city, the volunteer management cycle has three distinct stages: recruitment, retention and referral.
The recruitment process may be different based on the activity, as volunteers are often referred by their peers or are selected based on their personal or professional backgrounds.
Much time and attention goes into the retention stage: training, mentoring, skill-building, rewarding efforts and time for regular evaluation and reflection. Volunteers succeeding in their efforts may want to become more involved as regional leaders.
The referral stage is highlighted when alumni volunteers share their positive experience with others. At this point in the process, alumni have been through the volunteer cycle and want to share opportunities with others.
Throughout each stage it is important to provide incentives for alumni volunteers to continue their interest in assisting the institution. They should feel valued and empowered to continuously improve the experience for themselves, the staff and others involved or served.