clip_image002Alumni involvement is the life-blood of growth for higher education. So a decreasing trend of alumni involvement across the board at U.S. colleges and universities is a matter of considerable concern.

Though contributions to the nation’s colleges and universities reached a historic high according to an annual survey conducted by the Council for Aid to Education, unfortunately alumni participation declined.

Another major survey of alumni zeroed in on one of the major reasons for this decline. Alumni pointed to the “under-delivering on alumni benefits”, and at the same time, over-soliciting alumni. A whopping 62% of college alumni organizations were perceived as “not focused on offering alumni any significant benefits.” How can a Christian university reverse this decline in engagement?

Bob Burg and Mark Miller

Drawing from two respected leadership writers, we’ve discovered three practices to solidify long-term relationships with alumni with the result of increasing engagement and giving.

· Author and conference speaker Bob Burg’s international best-seller that has spawned a business movement The Go-Giver.

· Author and Chick fil A Vice President of Leadership Development, Mark Miller, contributed Chess Not Checkers to elevate your leadership game.

3 Powerful Ways to Engage Your Alumni

1. Create Value in such a way that your alumni will engage with you and refer you to others. Be accessible when alumni need help in their careers. Offer online options for self-study.

Mark Miller says, “a hunger for wisdom, fueled by a commitment to lifelong learning, will equip (alumni) for whatever lies ahead. Be open to input, new ideas, contrarian opinions, and views. Establish a network of counselors to call on for advice and wisdom.”

We encourage you to add value by requesting our free tool Set Your Sights: Developing Personal Vision which offers practical steps for you, your staff or alumni to uncover vision and take action steps towards that vision.

2. Touch lives by engaging the heart. From his years of research and experience, Mark Miller calls leaders to mutual, compassionate engagement. Every person (or alumnae) wants to know, “Do you care about me(emphasis mine). Drawn from his best-selling book Chess Not Checkers, Mark also lays out additional practical ways to engage the heart of people.

As a leader, people are your most valuable asset. Don’t neglect the worth of alumni. Listen to their stories, value their opinions, and enter their dreams. Record these interactions in your CRM system. How many people you serve, as well as how well you serve them, determines your overall success.

3. Be real with prayer. Consider a re-focus on biblical leadership priorities. Returning to biblical priorities of teaching and prayer in relationship to alumni relations grows your influence and impact long-term. Author and veteran pastor Dr. Gene Getz points to the actions of the Apostles in Acts 6 and Moses in Exodus 18 as “supra-cultural” leadership principles to be adopted today. Dr. Getz, in his book Praying for One Another, commends the biblical leaders for their delegation. He says, “these leaders were in danger of getting involved in important activities that would keep them from carrying out their primary function (of teaching and prayer).”

Reaching out to alumni with spiritual, educational and relational insights builds trust. Trust can be strengthened through mutual prayer networks aimed at encouraging alumni, faculty and student participation. One example comes from alumni involved in my Broadcasting major at Cedarville (OH) University. Led by faculty and alumni, the prayer networks have provided weekly interaction for years through a variety of social media. The result? Significant engagement at all levels in program and university priorities.

Ready to serve alumni in the Go-Giver and Chick-Fil-A way? Better yet, let’s be inspired by the words of Jesus to His disciples which are still relevant and motivating today, “Those who want to become great (leaders), must be willing to become servants.” (Matthew 20:26)

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Photo Credit: COD NEWSROOM