Leveraging Alumni: The Importance of a Volunteer Network

May 2023 — By BrightCrowd

Whether through academic programs, athletics, or extracurricular activities, most students actively engage with one another throughout their college years. They create meaningful relationships with like-minded peers and foster connections with university faculty and staff. In an ideal world, these relationships should withstand the test of time, but sadly this isn’t always the case. Many alumni slowly lose touch with their fellow graduates and alma mater as they forge into the next chapter of their life.

So, with nearly 94 million adults having a college degree, how can colleges and universities work to combat this opportunity gap? What initiatives can help increase alumni engagement?

Schools need to think outside the box and capitalize on their most valuable resource – the alumni themselves. Although alumni gatherings such as networking events, reunions, and school celebrations are a great way to work towards increasing school spirit, reconnecting former students, and securing donations. However, they often only represent a single moment.

Schools need to maintain the momentum they build with their alumni – they need to create a desire for alumni to come back repeatedly. And establishing a strong volunteer network can help achieve this.

Let’s look closer at the value of volunteering and how colleges and campuses can encourage alumni participation.

What Is the Value of Volunteering?

Alumni can volunteer in a variety of different ways. Whether they join an advisory or governing board, provide students with career advice and placement, or advocate for their university at local or regional events, alumni can identify a way that best utilizes their strengths and abilities.

Volunteering should give the individual providing the act a personal sense of accomplishment or gratification, and it should advance the school's or organization's initiatives. The act of volunteering should be mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

With the help of volunteers, schools can cut back on the amount of time and resources needed to create and promote events for current and former students. Volunteer efforts should be structured to entice prospective students with an alumni recruitment strategy, attract alumni donations, and promote the overall image of the college or university.

Colleges and universities rely heavily on their volunteer network to maintain or re-establish relationships with alumni, and by using a digital strategy to attract and retain volunteers, schools can collaborate and improve alumni engagement regardless of their geographical location.

Creating a sense of community, however large, can help reignite one’s school spirit and improve. This is especially important when it comes to increasing the enrollment size of a college or university. The intense competition among higher education institutions to attract prospective students makes boasting one’s school reputation more crucial. And what better way to do that than by showcasing unwavering school spirit? Students can see these volunteers' pride in their school and the joy they feel when interacting with those of similar college experiences. This may even increase interest in one’s college or university! The value of volunteering is never-ending.

Although increasing student recruitment and retention is imperative, acquiring adequate funding is also one of the top priorities for many alumni relations departments. And historically speaking, alumni volunteers are more likely to donate at a higher rate when compared to other alumni – this helps illustrate the power of an alumni volunteer network. Individuals willing to spend their spare time campaigning for their university and assisting fellow alumni often feel fulfilled by their philanthropic efforts. As a result, they may feel more inclined to help further their alma mater’s growth and development goals.

Power Your Volunteer Efforts with BrightCrowd

BrightCrowd’s digital scrapbooks are an excellent way to improve alumni engagement. Not only do they help alumni reconnect with their former peers, but they also grant individuals the ability to see how others are currently involved with the community and the university. Participants’ pages can bring light to new volunteer opportunities or ways to meaningfully interact with other alumni – that’s just one example of how to keep alumni engaged. Reading about positive memories or experiences may ignite one’s desire to help future generations have the same takeaways that they did from their college years.

Universities can also identify high-potential volunteers based on the information shared within the books and start initial conversations in a more effective way.

Schedule a demo with BrightCrowd today to see how our digital scrapbooks can help your college or university with its volunteer network. The value of volunteering is limitless!