Creating Alumni Engagement Scores

Posted on 01/01/2017

The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business knew that their alumni were engaged in many ways—assisting with admissions referrals, serving as career mentors, hiring graduates and making donations were just a few examples. The problem was that they didn’t have a clear or consistent method for measuring this engagement. So they decided to develop an engagement score to help identify which alumni were already most engaged and to predict who was most likely to become engaged in the future.

They started by identifying 14 different alumni engagement activities that were actively being tracked in their database. Then they asked their 30-member alumni board to participate in a focus group with the goal of ranking the activities in order of importance.

The board was asked to break into groups and describe how important they felt each activity was in terms of connecting alumni to the institution. Based on the board’s feedback, a “weight” was assigned to each means of engagement and a score was calculated for individual alumni. The higher the score, the more likely the alumni were to be engaged in the future. The scoring system helped staff to identify new volunteers as well as potential volunteer leaders. It was also helpful for determining donor interest and was used to inform the annual fund’s segmentation schemes. And, the score was a fluid calculation—changing continually as the advancement office discovered new activities to include or found it necessary to tweak their methodology.

With some work from their staff and—most notably—thanks to the assistance and expertise of their alumni board, Notre Dame’s College of Business was able to develop more thoughtful models and strategies for engaging their alumni. After all, who better to help with alumni engagement than current alumni volunteers?


This article has been adapted from the book Ideas for Annual Giving by Dan Allenby. Copyright (c) 2016 Council for Advancement and Support of Education. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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