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Why I Give (or don’t give) Back

In addition to the latest alumni trends and engagement ideas, we think it’s important to spend some time focusing on the alumni themselves. What motivates them to stay involved? How do they decide whether or not to donate back? What are they looking for in an alumni network?

Our first instalment covers the true story of Conor O’Donoghue, who attended four years in University College Cork in Ireland followed by one year in Notre Dame University on a scholarship . But only one of these Universities inspires him to open his wallet. “I’ve donated back to the University of Notre Dame but have never felt motivated to do something similar for my home University.” He notes the cultural divide between the US and Ireland when it comes to alumni giving, and says the idea was pretty alien to him at first.

Alumni engagement at Notre Dame didn’t start after they received their diplomas. From day one, the students were encouraged to become familiar with various alumni groups, attend alumni events, interact and network with alums, and celebrate alumni successes.

“My time at Notre Dame felt like a year long immersion in harnessing the power of the alumni network.  Our class found mentors, coaches, new jobs, recruited CEOs and raised venture capital, all while still at college, by leveraging the alumni network…it seemed like a limitless resource.”

Not all US alumni programs are created equally, however, even at some of the nation’s most notable institutions. According to Mitch Seaman, a UCLA grad, “there are opportunities that UCLA are missing out on when it comes to actual engagement.” For example, as the Product Manager at Pivotal, Mitch would love to fill new positions with fellow Bruins. But he has no immediate access to his alumni community in order to find them. He would also love to see more relevant content as well as have a centralised platform to find upcoming events, nearby classmates and opportunities to give back.

Mitch made his first donation to UCLA in hopes that the phone calls would stop, though he has since realised the importance of alumni giving. Conor is a regular donor to Notre Dame because he has always felt as though he were a part of something special, with a community of people to turn to for any request. Who’s not getting a dime? His university in Ireland. “I almost feel like any engagement with my home University is non-existent.  I can probably count on one hand the number of communications I received from the college, and ways to stay actively involved are not immediately apparent.”

Click here to learn more about how to take your alumni engagement to the next level and ensure that your alumni donate back to you!

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