The National FFA Foundation recognizes the importance of alumni engagement. Recently we spoke with Staci Glaser, Director of Development Operations, regarding their alumni program. Here’s what she had to say:
StratusLIVE: How important is it for your organization to engage alumni within your fundraising efforts?
Staci: “Extremely. The people most likely to make a gift to our organization are those who were directly impacted by it… our former FFA members (aka, our alumni). Many times, former FFA members share that their life was positively changed by their time in FFA. They want to pay it forward so that others have the same (or even better) opportunities and experiences they had within FFA.”
StratusLIVE: What types of fundraising campaigns targeted toward alumni do you currently run?
Staci: “All of our annual fund solicitations engage alumni. Those that we find most impactful are those where they can impact their local FFA chapter or provide a way to pay tribute to an FFA advisor or loved one. Our most successful fundraising initiatives with alumni are our Give the Gift of Blue program (provides FFA jackets to students who otherwise could not afford one) or our Pave the Way program (puts an engraved brick in our courtyard at our headquarters).”
StratusLIVE: Does giving from alumni constitute a significant portion of your fundraising dollars?
Staci: Yes, it sure does. And we project that will continue to grow as we integrate alumni constituent data into SL (StratusLIVE). The majority of our fundraising comes from corporate sponsors, many of which have leadership ties to FFA. Of our major gift donors, approximately 75% are former FFA members.
StratusLIVE: Describe the challenges in connecting with your alumni.
Staci: “FFA members are primarily high school students. Our biggest challenge is keeping track of their current contact information. FFA members use their high school email address and their parents’ home address on their membership profile… so you can see how this information soon becomes outdated. Working to capture a personal email address and doing data appends are crucial for keeping connected with our former members.”
StratusLIVE: How do you utilize technology to engage with your alumni?
Staci:“There are a few main tools we use including our SL and ClickDimensions Active Campaign, Facebook, LinkedIn and a new online tool we’re getting ready to launch called Graduway. These tools allow us to both communicate with our alumni and identify former FFA members that we aren’t already connected with. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Graduway allow for organic interaction with our organization and our former members… it also provides organic engagement between former members. They can connect with one another, provide mentoring opportunities, connect about a job opening, etc.”