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Why You Need To Continuously Prove The ROI Of Your Alumni Program To Senior Management

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Corporate Alumni Programs sometimes exist in their own little world because they’re thought of as not “core business.” It’s up to you to embed the program into the company’s goals and to share just how important it is to the business.

Routinely Proving Alumni Program ROI to Executives

One of the first steps of establishing a Corporate Alumni Program is to get the buy-in of senior stakeholders. Without the support of management, or at least one key high-ranking member, it is difficult to get funding and backing for all the elements needed to connect meaningfully with corporate alumni.

Once the program is up and running, don’t assume management is automatically going to champion your efforts down the road. Savvy alumni program managers know that no matter how long the network has been in place, they must continuously demonstrate the value of their programs and its alignment to the overall goals of their companies. Establishing – and maintaining – executive support for your program requires that you are able to prove the return on investment (ROI) of the program in the past and projected outcomes for the future.

Connect to the Company Goals

Alumni programs can be a fairly new concept for many executives. Proving the ROI of your program is a great opportunity to show the impact that engaging employees for life can have on a company’s bottom line if relationships with corporate alumni are properly cultivated and managed.

In our benchmarking report, each year respondents ranked the top three business drivers for Alumni Programs consistently as:

  • Brand advocacy
  • Business development
  • Talent acquisition

We recommend centering your metrics around these three key categories that resonate with management and showcasing this at least once a year to your stakeholders. You will also want to maintain your own metrics throughout the year that measure alumni engagement. A qualitative and quantitative approach covers all bases.

Three ways to showcase alumni program value are:

  • Consider conducting an annual (or bi-annual) survey with a Net Promoter Score® (NPS), which enables you to benchmark brand advocacy or business development opportunities with your enrolled alumni.
  • Setting goals for the number of quality alumni referrals can paint an interesting story, especially as you look at the business development impact in placing alumni at key clients and friends of the organization. Or track the number of alumni who return to your company.
  • Tracking which alumni are involved at top deals with clients in a calendar year can also demonstrate tangible ROI quickly and definitively.

Presenting the Information

At a minimum, Alumni Program goals, progress, and KPIs should be presented annually to senior executives. If the opportunity to have a mid-year check-in is possible, that's even better. Involving leadership directly in the program’s strengths and challenges allows them to feel more invested, and they can be a wonderful resource.

Consider using executive buy-in as a means for building additional rapport amongst the alumni community. Featuring “Executive Connect” type marketing pieces in which key executives are profiled or inviting an exec to do a keynote at an alumni event can be a strategic and impactful message to alumni that the organization cares about them and wants them to stay involved. This request isn’t just another task for them either. They’ll enjoy connecting with old colleagues, which really demonstrates the value to them firsthand.

The Power of Anecdotes

Data is, of course, critical to presenting ROI in a way that resonates with executives, but don’t forget the power of a good story. In face-to-face presentations, pepper your narrative with anecdotes that bring the connections built by your alumni program to life. Help executives understand how the intentional relationships built with alumni bear fruit in positive outcomes online and through word of mouth.

A few ways to do this is to have stories about relationships made at events, new business won because of a connection, and keep track of where alumni are now. Did your leadership know that so-and-so has become CEO at a target company? The alumni program can help fill in some strategic steps for them.

Don’t Forget to Take Credit

There’s a lot of hard work that goes into analyzing data and producing reports to reveal the effectiveness of your alumni program. Other teams in your company will be happy to take full credit for the outcome of your work to drive new business, establish partnerships, and recruit new employees without realizing the role the alumni program plays in their success. Use this process to take credit for the positive impact your alumni program has on the overall well-being of the company.