Concordia’s strategy for relationship-building in a digital-first age

While Concordia College takes pride in its heritage, it recognizes the need to adapt and thrive in a digital-first world. To empower its community and achieve its mission, the college re-invented its engagement strategy to nurture its alumni community, segment communications to tell better stories, and leverage data to improve future engagement and fundraising strategies at scale.


Average alumni engaged monthly


Open rate recorded on emails sent


Engagement activities recorded in the last 30 days

William Peace University grand welcome to the Class of 2020 virtually with Almabase

About Concordia College

Concordia College is a coeducational, private liberal arts college in Moorhead, Minnesota. Established in 1893, the college fosters a vibrant learning community for over 2,600 undergraduate students. Concordia boasts a distinguished alumni network exceeding 41,000 individuals who are making their mark in various fields across the globe. Each year, the college witnesses the graduation of around 500 students, prepared to embark on their journeys of lifelong learning and service to society.

What were some significant challenges that Concordia College struggled with?

While Concordia College takes pride in its heritage, it recognizes the need to adapt and thrive in a digital-first world. To empower its community and achieve its mission, the college has addressed some key challenges:

  • Need to simplify and improve peer-to-peer networking
  • Disconnected tools created inefficiencies in teams to send out communications
  • 200+ hours lost in managing & uploading content like class letters on the website manually
  • Siloed tools and reports made tracking alumni and donor engagement difficult

How does Concordia College successfully engage 10,000+ alumni each month?

A simpler way to segment communications

In the past, Concordia College relied on separate email marketing tools to connect with its alumni, resulting in a fragmented and inefficient communication strategy. This disjointed approach often required the alumni engagement team to request information from different departments to update lists, acquire past content, or retrieve open rates,  creating operational bottlenecks. Recognizing the need for a more streamlined approach, Concordia set up an email communications program that unified the process of email creation, design, and analytics. Today, the college sends personalized communications tailored to alumni preferences, eliminating dependence on separate tools to share college updates, invite alumni to class reunions, or connect with the community.

Concordia records an impressive average open rate of close to 60% on emails sent to alumni, which is continually rising.

Providing seamless, self-serve networking for its alumni

Concordia College found that their previous engagement tools were limiting networking improvement among its community.

Today, the college provides a simpler way for its community to discover and network with peers and alumni, removing the need to reach out to the college to connect them. The alumni relations team also launched an interactive map for alumni to not just discover opportunities to connect and network based on location but also to keep their information up to date. Currently, the college alumni have the ability to network with peers and alumni worldwide and bond over shared experiences on their own.

Leading fundraising success centered around value

Concordia College faced a significant challenge: various outreach to alumni occurred in silos: forms filled out by alumni,  their participation in college activities, and alumni giving data were not well integrated. As a result, the alumni and the fundraising teams couldn't leverage engagement to create better communications and appeals for fundraising.

The college uses built-in reports to separate logged-in and non-logged-in alumni, with two separate newsletters personalized to the liking of the two pools. Shar Berns, Associate Director of Annual Giving and Engagement at Concordia, tracks these reports to identify which alumni are engaged, who are participating, and who have the potential to be nurtured into donors. She then uses data insights to create more targeted acquisition and retargeting campaigns to improve the college's engagement and giving efforts.

Key Results

✅ 10,000+ alumni engaged month-on-month

✅ 60% open rate recorded on emails

✅ 130,000+ engagement activities recorded in the last 30 days

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