“You’re only as good as the data you keep” has become a modern day mantra in many industries. It has certainly been true for alumni relations for decades. But the challenge here is big. 
"Only 20.3% of the schools have updated data of their alumni."
— VAESE Alumni Relations Benchmarking Study(2016)
Your alumni change jobs all the time. They take on new positions at current companies, they move to new companies, they move to a new city. Even worse, their email IDs, phone numbers and addresses also change often. How do you keep a track of all this?

Here are the different approaches taken by alumni offices like yours, gathered from our experience working with schools around the world.

1. A form on your webpage
Most of you have a form on your website asking your alumni to send you their updated information. You all must have seen by now that the participation on this is very low. You can never reliably say that your alumni information is up-to-date. 

2.Calling your alumni
You can organize a group of volunteers to call your alumni and find out if their information has changed. Alumni don’t enjoy this experience because there’s no value in that call for them. You also don’t find any lost alumni. This data can again become stale very soon. 

3.Updating information at events
You update information that you get from alumni when they attend events. Just like calling your alumni, this is great but again not very scalable. Your most active alumni are the ones that typically attend your events and beyond a point, you don’t get much new information.

4.Hire data enrichment services
Some of you hire services that do a cleanup of your alumni database based on your existing data. There are two challenges here these services are very expensive and unreliable. The quality of the output is not very accurate. 

5.Database managers tracking LinkedIn manually
Many schools adopt this approach where their database managers keep a watch on LinkedIn and update any new information that they find onto their database. As you can imagine, this approach can get you started but is not very scalable. You can only keep a track of some alumni like this. 

The Solution

If you think about where alumni have their latest information stored, it’s LinkedIn and Facebook. They have very concrete reasons to update contact information and career changes to their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. You can follow or friend your alumni there and keep a track of changes but doing this manually quickly becomes impossible for your database manager.

Thankfully, modern technology makes it possible for you to keep a track of all your alumni on Facebook and LinkedIn and update all their changes automatically. So if an alum moves from Google to Microsoft and San Francisco to Seattle, you know it immediately and your database gets updated automatically.

The key is to be able to do all of this seamlessly without having the alumni do anything manually every time something changes. Facebook and LinkedIn both provide interfaces to access these changes. The challenge is to build integrations with those interfaces and keep up with the changes on those interfaces from time to time.

The easiest way is to outsource or buy software that takes care of all these nuances and provide you an easy-to-use system.

The table quickly recaps the pros and cons of each approach as you think about how to keep your alumni database accurate and comprehensive.

Want to leverage social media to keep track of your alumni? Learn how Almabase can help.



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