Checking in on Alumni Sentiments: Corporate Insight Survey Reveals Link Between Alumni Engagement and College Fundraising

Study evaluates alumni experience at colleges and universities and shows drivers behind alumni donations

Nov 23, 2015, 09:00 ET from Corporate Insight

NEW YORK, Nov. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As social media continues to revolutionize charitable giving, research from Corporate Insight offers important new evidence as to why colleges and universities across the United States continue to lag in fundraising. A recent study conducted by the firm's Alumni Monitor, a third-party research service, polled more than 1,100 alumni of U.S. higher education institutions looking at the correlation between fundraising efforts at schools and alumni sentiments.

The study, titled Alumni Engagement and Giving, found that nearly eight out of ten alumni in the United States feel positively about their alma mater. However, how graduates feel about their school is not enough, as only 22 percent reported donating to their college or university in the last 12 months.

"Our findings reveal a disconnect between alumni sentiments and their donations," said Michael Ellison, president of Corporate Insight, the competitive intelligence research provider that offers analytical alumni tracking tools for colleges and universities within the United States. "This tells us something is clearly missing in the way that schools translate positive feelings and emotions into actions and engagement with their alumni."

Below are reasons for why some alumni donate to their alma mater, and why others do not:

Reasons for Donating:

  • An Emotional Connection. Drivers for donating are emotional. Nearly half of donors (49 percent) say they feel "very close" to their alma mater, compared to just 16 percent of non-donors.
    • Forty-seven percent of respondents donate to their alma mater because of deep school pride, and 44 percent give to feel more involved.
    • Eighty-four percent of donors believe their alma mater values their opinion.
  • Career Advancement. Forty percent of donors say their alma mater was "very important" to landing their first job, while on the flip side many non-donors believe their college played little or no role.
  • Brand Association Benefits. Eighty percent of donors say they have benefitted from their association with their alma mater, compared to less than half (48 percent) of non-donors who say the same. Similarly, only five percent of donors say they never participated in student activities, compared to 29 percent of non-donors.

Reasons for Not Donating:

  • Not Within Budget. More than half of respondents (56 percent) say they do not currently donate because they "can't afford to" donate to their alma mater.
  • Worthier Causes. Twenty-eight percent say there are worthier causes and organizations to give to.
  • Lack of Effective Communications. Forty-seven percent of non-donor respondents say they never received any communication via social media from their school, and 31 percent do not receive invitations to alumni events and activities.
    • Forty-four percent of non-donors say they receive no information on current school programs
  • Yearning for Alumni Services. Thirteen percent of non-donors believe their college or university offers no alumni services at all.
  • Surprisingly, 47 percent of non-donors claim they are interested in getting more involved in some capacity with their college or university.

"Alumni want to feel emotionally connected with their alma maters, and it's crucial that colleges and universities increase their communications in an effective way in order to grow engagement – and ultimately fundraise – from their alumni base," Ellison said. "The results of the survey have shown us that higher education institutions need to make better connections with their alumni. Utilizing today's innovative tools in the right way, like digital and social media platforms, will enable schools to make more meaningful connections with their alumni."

Research and Methodology

The primary objective of this research was to discover the relationship between graduates of U.S. colleges and universities and their alma maters, as well as distinguish current donating behavior of alumni. Additionally, the study looked at graduates' opinions of their alma mater and how they are treated as alumni. The study's findings also showed where colleges and universities rank among other charitable causes and philanthropies.

In order to accomplish the objectives of the study, Corporate Insight surveyed 1,100 alumni of undergraduate institutions from across the U.S. Interviews took place in October 2015.

To learn more about this research and Corporate Insight's higher education tool, Alumni Monitor, please visit

About Corporate Insight

Corporate Insight provides competitive intelligence, consulting and user experience research to the nation's leading financial institutions and insurers. For more than two decades, the firm has tracked technological developments in the online experience, identifying best practices in online banking and investing, mobile finance, social media and other emerging areas. Beginning with its work in the brokerage industry, Corporate Insight now offers subscription-based Monitor services in 14 different areas, including banking, healthcare and alumni relations. The firm's latest research service, Alumni Monitor, examines the online and offline alumni experience of more than four dozen leading higher education institutions, providing these colleges and universities a unique, first-hand analysis of traditional and digital marketing communications to alumni. To learn more, visit us at and Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter (CInsight) and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Eileen Leonardo
(212) 994-7531

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SOURCE Corporate Insight