How Franklin College is Measuring Alumni Engagement Like a PRO
- "Alumni Engagement Metrics"
This is a common catchphrase that everyone in our industry has come across, in some shape or form. But how many of us are actually leveraging the power of engagement metrics to drive alumni participation and improve programming? Measuring data can be tricky, and there’s no universal playbook around to help advancement teams create and implement suitable frameworks in their institution.
That’s why my teammate Sushmitha and I put together a little webinar, to give advancement professionals the foothold they need to track engagement like a pro. We were fortunate to be joined by Adam Dunigan of Franklin College. Adam has had over a decade of experience working with various alumni engagement metrics, and we had a blast imbibing all the nuggets of wisdom that he had to share.
Here’s a snippet of the insights Adam shared during the webinar.
How Franklin College is tracking Alumni Engagement
Initially, the Advancement team at Franklin College was largely focused on tracking attendance at events. As their alumni programs became more diverse, the team recognized the need to track metrics beyond event participation rate. That’s why the College built a solid framework to measure alumni engagement that enabled them to track metrics in a more comprehensive manner.
Aided by Adam’s rich history in data management and working with databases, the team at Franklin College slowly scaled their framework, from tracking metrics using spreadsheets, to creating complex data models by tinkering around with APIs and Microsoft Power BI. Today, Franklin College also has an automated process of tracking their data, and they also have powerful custom dashboards that offer them up-to-date data at a glance.
| Key Takeaway – Don't worry about the tools you have - your main focus should lie on what metrics you can track. While starting off, even spreadsheets are a great way to track your data.
How Franklin College tracks qualitative data
An age-old problem with most engagement frameworks is this – tracking quantitative data will eventually become rinse-and-repeat, but how do you track qualitative data? For instance, what your constituents feel about your programming isn’t something you can quantify using numbers alone.
One way Franklin College tackled this challenge is by using surveys. Whether they are short surveys after every event, or they are more comprehensive surveys sent out every couple of years, they are a great channel to understand what your alumni really want out of your programming. CASE AEM surveys also enable the team to compare their programming with other institutions, and allows them to gain new ideas from their peers.
| Key Takeaway – Survey a great tool to leverage if you want to understand what your alumni think of your programming.
What to do if your institution is just starting out with engagement metrics
Even though everyone knows the importance of engagement metrics, only a small percentage of institutions actually leverage them to track alumni engagement. If your institution is just starting out with engagement metrics, Adam’s advice would be to start tracking whatever you can, and work your way towards a robust framework that aligns with your objectives.
Adam also recommends upskilling yourself whenever you can, either through a plethora of resources available online, or by learning through your peers, as well as experts in the field. This is precisely how Adam became a data expert himself – he started off by working with spreadsheets, but eventually got to a point where he mastered various tools like Microsoft Power BI.
| Key Takeaway – Take advantage of all the resources at your disposal to get better with engagement metrics.
Adam Dunigan has been working with his alma mater for over 12 years now, and he’s spent a good deal of that time with data. He has worn multiple hats working with Franklin College, and his area of expertise revolves around database design and management, data analytics, and working with advancement services. He is a self-taught data enthusiast, who has a penchant for finding new ways to collect and utilize data to make programming more alumni-centric.
If you want to learn more about how Adam helped set up a robust framework to track alumni engagement at Franklin College, tune in to the first episode of Advancement Spotlight, which is live on our YouTube channel now!
About The Author
Manashi Dutta is the all-things Marketing person at Almabase. She is passionate about alumni centricity, and unique event ideas that keep alumni engaged. Having spent a good deal of the last three years interacting with advancement shops across the U.S., Manashi has a keen interest in the problems they face, and the solutions that help them move forward. When she’s not furiously punching away at her keyboard during the week, Manashi enjoys her time networking with alumni relations and fundraising professionals, and keeping herself abreast of all the latest trends in the industry.