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Alumni As Advocates
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Alumni As Advocates


Presentation on engaging alumni as advocates for public funding of higher education.

Presentation on engaging alumni as advocates for public funding of higher education.

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  • Increased pressure for limited state resources Cost of Higher Education continues to rise (health care and energy costs put a strain on budgets) Elected officials will question the constant demand of the “black hole” Oversight increasing from the Legislature, Governor, and Federal Government Michigan Voters passed a referendum that restricted affirmative action, STEM Cells, Spellings Report
  • 1 - Denial Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defence mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely. 2 - Anger Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgemental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset. 3 - Bargaining Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example "Can we still be friends?.." when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it's a matter of life or death. 4 - Depression Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality. 5 - Acceptance Again this stage definitely varies according to the person's situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.
  • individual stages of dealing with the grief.
  • Until recently, only membership organization like the NRA, AARP, and my former employer Common Cause developed advocacy efforts. But there has been a shift people are realizing that it is effective and because technology has made it significantly easier to reach large audiences cheaply. Legislators listen to constituents New lobbying restrictions are making direct lobbying more difficult My favorite quote is by Sen. Russell from Georgia – “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” Educates and empowers major constituents Unfiltered communication with audiences Struggle to get media attention – this allows you to get your message out there Most internal groups get It has becomes much easier to develop a network of supporters Grassroots activities use to be really expensive to perform. Would have to have an organizer in every region to truly be effective. But online technologies allow you to create community and keep people informed in a timely and cost-efficient manner Everyone else is doing it
  • But also integrate fundraising and advocacy


  • 1. Alumni as Advocates Mike Dean Tipping Point Strategies
  • 2. Agenda for Today
    • Why Advocacy?
    • Key Principles of Success
    • Case Study at the University of Illinois
    • Q & A
  • 3. Challenges Facing Higher Education
    • Increased pressure for limited state resources
    • Cost of Higher Education continues to rise (health care and energy costs put a strain on budgets)
    • Can’t continue to raise tuition to make up for funding cuts
  • 4. How do we Respond?
    • Denial
    • Anger
    • Bargaining
    • Depression
    • Acceptance
  • 5. How do we Respond?
    • Engage Advocates
    Not This Advocate These Advocates
  • 6. Why is Grassroots Advocacy?
    • Legislators listen to their constituents
    • Achieve a balanced approach
    • Distribute messages to the community more effectively
    • Create a human face
    • Build a sense of community
    • Avoid having messages filtered through the media or campus interest groups
  • 7. Principles for Success
    • Think about the structure and staffing
      • Where should the program be housed
      • Staff/consultant
      • Grasstops vs. Grassroots
    • How to create buy-in
      • Campus leadership must be supportive
      • Demonstrate success
      • Engage campus leadership to interact with advocates
  • 8. Principles for Success
    • 3. Use technology to cast a wide net
      • E-mail is an easy way to generate a lot of contacts with elected officials
      • Begin communicating regularly
    • 4. Conduct targeted outreach to alumni with influence
      • These contacts are harder to get
  • 9. Website is your hub
  • 10. Principles for Success
    • 5. Develop a plan
      • Necessary to keep all the actors in sync
      • Develop a message arc
    • 6. Message matters
      • Must be compelling
      • Develop a theme that people will understand
  • 11. Create a Theme
  • 12. Principles for Success
    • 7. Create a grassroots committee
      • Engage all stakeholders
      • Will help create buy-in and ownership
    • 8. Evaluate your program regularly
      • Survey supporters
      • Visit with key stakeholders
  • 13. More Information
    • Visit –
    • [email_address]