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Leveraging
Alumni Stories
Path to Passion at Washington College
Check it out on the web
About Us
Washington College
• Private liberal arts school in Chestertown, Maryland
founded in 1782
• Roughly 1,400 undergraduate st...
Lindsay Bergman-Debes ’07
• Digital Strategist
• College Relations &
Marketing
• Specializes in content and
social media s...
Jenny Hutton P’19
• Volunteer Coordinator
• Alumni Relations
• Matches alumni volunteers with
opportunities in Career
Deve...
Why Path to Passion?
How Jenny’s Idea Became
Strategic Content
• Engage alumni who filled out survey
• Inspired by being on the parent side of ...
The Little Idea That Could
• First Challenge: Getting Buy-In
• Is something like this even possible?
• Why do we need cont...
But really, how awesome
is this content?
• Searchable profiles for admissions & career services
• An engagement tool for r...
Searchable for Admissions
& Career Services
• Answers the question
“What do you do with a
BA in theatre?”
• Reassuring for...
Engagement Tool for
Reaching Out to Alumni
• An ask so soft it’s not
even really an ask
• Opens doors for alumni
participa...
Pipeline for Event Guests
• Additional information
provides more options for
compiling potential
speakers
• Yielded partic...
Donor Conversion
• In our first year, 48% of
alumni who participated
in Path to Passion
donated
• Overall alumni giving
ra...
Story Leads & Social Content
• Self-reported information
yields interesting results
• Professors and peers
reaching out ca...
How We Made
It Happen
Ask for suggestions from:
• Alumni volunteers
• Who better to know what cool things their friends are doing
• Faculty and ...
Create The Form
• Robust list of questions
that require thoughtful
answers but not too
time-consuming
• Should lead enough...
Reach Out to the Lists
• Use personal
connections when
possible
• Provide templates for
faculty, coaches, alumni
volunteer...
Optimize for the Web
• Decide on specific tagging nomenclature to
include with your form
• Build a site that can display b...
What Tags Make Sense?
• Career Field
• Major/Minor
• Adding: Athletics
• Other Options
• Affinity groups
• Regional
• Any ...
• Our LiveWhale CMS has
a dedicated profiles
module
• It might be more of a
narrative with headings
in other CMSs
• make s...
Our Backend View
What Our Audience Sees
What Our Audience Sees
The Road to Success
Real Profile Examples
Suzanne Fischer-Huettner ’95
& Steven Huettner ’91
• Positive engagement
experience
• Panel participation
• Career mentori...
Suzanne Fischer-Huettner ’95
& Steven Huettner ’91
• Positive engagement
experience
• Panel participation
• Career mentori...
Megan Walburn Viviano ’07
• No answer to “cold
calls”
• Engaged by peer-to-
peer email from
classmate
• Panel participatio...
Ciarán O’Keeffe ’94
• Found via Google
• After reengaging via
P2P, he participated in
and won the alumni
magazine photogra...
Ian May ’03
• Contacted with letter
sent on behalf of
popular International
Studies professor
• Magazine story &
homepage ...
Christopher Smith ’07
• Contacted because of
biology major
• P2P profile lead to visit
from Major Gifts Officer
• Donated ...
Our Path
What Does the Future Hold?
Stories and Social
• Working to identify alumni to interview and increasing our
Chris Smith factor
• Promoting social cont...
On-Campus Panels
We’ve Had:
• Putting the Pieces Together (Education)
• #WACLikeMe (Alumni of Color)
• We Love WC (Admissi...
Lead Like a Girl
• WC has its first female
President
• Path to Passion re-
engaged and fostered good
relationships with se...
Lead Like a Girl
• Fall leadership symposium
with speaker panels and
networking/mentoring
opportunities
• Spring campus sp...
Questions?
Contact Us
Lindsay Bergman-Debes
@lbergman2
lbergman2@washcoll.edu
Jenny Hutton
jhutton2@washcoll.edu
washcoll.edu
@washco...
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Leveraging Alumni Stories

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Washington College's Path to Passion program

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Leveraging Alumni Stories

  1. 1. Leveraging Alumni Stories Path to Passion at Washington College Check it out on the web
  2. 2. About Us
  3. 3. Washington College • Private liberal arts school in Chestertown, Maryland founded in 1782 • Roughly 1,400 undergraduate students, DIII Sports • Sticker price of $50k+ • Around 10,000 active alumni, many in the Mid-Atlantic region
  4. 4. Lindsay Bergman-Debes ’07 • Digital Strategist • College Relations & Marketing • Specializes in content and social media strategy • Runs the Content Management System • Started at WC before Facebook existed
  5. 5. Jenny Hutton P’19 • Volunteer Coordinator • Alumni Relations • Matches alumni volunteers with opportunities in Career Development, Admissions, Academics and Student Life • Plans alumni panels and other engagement tools for Alumni Relations
  6. 6. Why Path to Passion?
  7. 7. How Jenny’s Idea Became Strategic Content • Engage alumni who filled out survey • Inspired by being on the parent side of the College search • Key Questions: • How can we show the many different paths to take with your education? • Is there a way to take the information we already have and make it searchable?
  8. 8. The Little Idea That Could • First Challenge: Getting Buy-In • Is something like this even possible? • Why do we need content like this? • College Relations Perspective • Great engagement tool for young alumni who often feel not as special • Loved the ideas for how the program could serve multiple areas
  9. 9. But really, how awesome is this content? • Searchable profiles for admissions & career services • An engagement tool for reaching out to alumni • A pool of potential volunteers for events • Donor conversion • Leads for stories & social content
  10. 10. Searchable for Admissions & Career Services • Answers the question “What do you do with a BA in theatre?” • Reassuring for parents and students alike • Provides Career Services with insight and potential contacts for internships
  11. 11. Engagement Tool for Reaching Out to Alumni • An ask so soft it’s not even really an ask • Opens doors for alumni participation • Tell us about yourself…
  12. 12. Pipeline for Event Guests • Additional information provides more options for compiling potential speakers • Yielded participation from alumni not on the radar • Self-reported club interests and experiences provide further insight
  13. 13. Donor Conversion • In our first year, 48% of alumni who participated in Path to Passion donated • Overall alumni giving rate was 22%
  14. 14. Story Leads & Social Content • Self-reported information yields interesting results • Professors and peers reaching out can generate outcomes stories not otherwise known
  15. 15. How We Made It Happen
  16. 16. Ask for suggestions from: • Alumni volunteers • Who better to know what cool things their friends are doing • Faculty and staff • We added 27 new doctors immediately to our outreach list after reaching out to the pre-med program coordinator • Ask Google! Build List of Potential Contacts
  17. 17. Create The Form • Robust list of questions that require thoughtful answers but not too time-consuming • Should lead enough to capture the essence of your institution • Decide on form hosting (we use third party service Wufoo currently)
  18. 18. Reach Out to the Lists • Use personal connections when possible • Provide templates for faculty, coaches, alumni volunteers to contact via email • Promote the program at alumni events
  19. 19. Optimize for the Web • Decide on specific tagging nomenclature to include with your form • Build a site that can display by certain types of tags • We use majors and career fields • We will start to incorporate athletics as coaches reach out to alumni
  20. 20. What Tags Make Sense? • Career Field • Major/Minor • Adding: Athletics • Other Options • Affinity groups • Regional • Any grouping that makes sense to your audience’s needs
  21. 21. • Our LiveWhale CMS has a dedicated profiles module • It might be more of a narrative with headings in other CMSs • make sure you standardize the look before you get started Build Profiles in Your CMS
  22. 22. Our Backend View
  23. 23. What Our Audience Sees
  24. 24. What Our Audience Sees
  25. 25. The Road to Success Real Profile Examples
  26. 26. Suzanne Fischer-Huettner ’95 & Steven Huettner ’91 • Positive engagement experience • Panel participation • Career mentoring and speaking to classes • New donors
  27. 27. Suzanne Fischer-Huettner ’95 & Steven Huettner ’91 • Positive engagement experience • Panel participation • Career mentoring and speaking to classes • New donors
  28. 28. Megan Walburn Viviano ’07 • No answer to “cold calls” • Engaged by peer-to- peer email from classmate • Panel participation • New donor
  29. 29. Ciarán O’Keeffe ’94 • Found via Google • After reengaging via P2P, he participated in and won the alumni magazine photography contest • Celebrity of sorts for his work in paranormal studies
  30. 30. Ian May ’03 • Contacted with letter sent on behalf of popular International Studies professor • Magazine story & homepage story
  31. 31. Christopher Smith ’07 • Contacted because of biology major • P2P profile lead to visit from Major Gifts Officer • Donated at “1782” level • Homepage story • Wants to volunteer when he returns to area
  32. 32. Our Path What Does the Future Hold?
  33. 33. Stories and Social • Working to identify alumni to interview and increasing our Chris Smith factor • Promoting social content through alumni and prospective student Facebook and Twitter accounts • Using social to encourage other alumni to participate in Path to Passion
  34. 34. On-Campus Panels We’ve Had: • Putting the Pieces Together (Education) • #WACLikeMe (Alumni of Color) • We Love WC (Admissions Open House) • Entrepreneurship • Alumni in Media
  35. 35. Lead Like a Girl • WC has its first female President • Path to Passion re- engaged and fostered good relationships with several professional alumna • Alumna of the Year Award
  36. 36. Lead Like a Girl • Fall leadership symposium with speaker panels and networking/mentoring opportunities • Spring campus speaker with additional alumna engagement opportunities
  37. 37. Questions?
  38. 38. Contact Us Lindsay Bergman-Debes @lbergman2 lbergman2@washcoll.edu Jenny Hutton jhutton2@washcoll.edu washcoll.edu @washcoll facebook.com/washingtoncolleg e

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