February is the perfect time to celebrate and recognize the potential of alumni!

Let’s debunk the myth that alumni is only linked to fundraising gifts. This is not diminishing this important endeavor of financial giving, we just want to focus on so much more. By raising awareness to our institutions, our students, our alumni and our society on alumni potential we can get so much more! To realise the full, true potential for alumni we need to celebrate three groups during #LoveAlumni month.

1- Alumni as doers (and donors)

Let’s celebrate alumni who have already taken the plunge. That’s those alumni investing their time and talent to help fellow alumni, students and the institution to advance and thrive. They are mentors, advisors, committee members, recruiters, guest lecturers, role models and so many other volunteer roles. It is essential that we #LoveAlumni who are already engaging deeply in our institutions. If these were major donors giving their money instead – what would the stewardship plan look like? Often there are clear ways to steward – recognize, thank and inform- alumni on how their giving is making a difference. The same should be true for our alumni volunteers. How do we thank them? The saying goes: if you want something done, ask a busy person. For our alumni volunteers, it’s easy to ask an active alum to do more: be a mentor and then join a university committee or complete a career profile. This cascade of volunteering activity can often be welcome and eager volunteering begets more volunteering, however what’s our plan to recognize these additional efforts? Alumni burnout is real. How can be ensure our key alumni feel their lifelong engagement is valued? Leverage the #LoveAlumni campaign to rethink alumni engagement stewardship.

How do we ensure our institutions– including senior leadership — recognize the strategic power of alumni? 

2- Alumni as detectives

Let’s celebrate alumni donors, doers and detectives. Yes, let’s create alumni sleuths! How do we raise awareness among our students, our alumni that in maximizing the opportunities available to them at their university and with fellow alumni, this creates lifelong individual alumni potential. Our alumni end up in careers that inspire them, thanks to finding an alumni mentor or attending a university Webinar on a topic of interest. Our alumni gain experience and skills that makes them better global citizens – they gain leadership skills as mentors or as committee members. They become informal role models in their community, encouraging others to attend university. They might meet fellow alumni with similar interests to work collectively for a better world.  How can we educate our alumni to understand that by identifying opportunities connected to their alumni-ness is not an innate, linear skill. Being an alumni detecting opportunities of interest is a quantum skill. It requires building your alumni network, digging for university and alumni opportunities (they don’t always appear!) – creating an regular time to do your alumni detective work – like an Alumni Friday can help to create this magic! There are a few suggestions hyperlinked here and so many others podcasts and articles on this blog to inspire this detective work!

Anyone and every one of our alumni should be an alumni detective – how can we equip them to #LoveAlumni side of themselves?  

3- Alumni enablers- the alumni professionals and leaders

Let’s celebrate those that create alumni opportunities for others! This is often an undercelebrated group! How can we celebrate the work of alumni relations professionals, career services professionals and other professional services personnel that dedicate their time and energy to enabling alumni for engagement and reaching their full potential. Often this is a thankless job and after the pivoting of online events from the pandemic – there is also burnout. #LoveAlumni means loving the professionals that allow this magic to happen- the creative new ideas they bring to programming and alumni events. They bring alumni potential in their jobs everyday – this is worth celebrating!!  Get creative- even small celebrations and thank yous can boost and bring even more motivation. Check out my updated article on the role of alumni professionals and leaders to orchestrate alumni serendipity through mutual support. There is so many other ways to celebrate – Watch this space!

Our alumni leaders – those who give of their time on Alumni Associations and Alumni Boards – also deserve special recognition. What can be done to celebrate their everyday #LoveAlumni volunteer work?

By celebrating these three groups during #LoveAlumni month, we can elevate the profile, importance and potential of alumni in our institutions and in our world.

Whether you are a curious member of the alumni community, a student, an alumni or careers professional or university administrator, you are welcome to use the #LoveAlumni hashtag and the ideas to make alumni potential even better! Let’s #LoveAlumni!