Annual Mentoring Campaign!

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Get more alumni committed and engaged to provide job shadowing opportunities, internships and jobs for students and grads!

While watching a TED presentation as I worked out on my elliptical machine, my mind started to wander (as it frequently does) and I found myself  thinking about fundraising.

Maybe it was the recent phone call from my alma mater, or perhaps the two letters from non-profits asking for donations, but I started to think about using annual giving fundraising techniques to increase the number of alumni who connect with, and mentor students.

As you know, and better than I, your annual giving team, cranks on their automated dialers in the fall and follows up on emails, post cards and letters asking alumni to support the needs of the college.   If your college is like most, your annual giving department hires a team of students, or professionals to engage and talk with alumni about the wonderful things happening on campus and ask them to support the scholarship program.

Some are incredibly successful at this.

This is a list of the top six colleges with the highest percent of alumni participating in their annual giving program.  Just look at their participation rates!

  1. Princeton University             62.2
  2. Thomas Aquinas                  58.9
  3. Carlton College                    58.2
  4. Williams College                  57.5
  5. Amherst College                  57.3
  6. Centre College                     54.9

Pretty impressive isn’t it?

That got me thinking about the three “T’s” –a phrase I heard while attending nearly one hundred CASE conferences over 12 years.

People give their Time, Treasure or Talent!

While the above colleges have phenomenal numbers of alumni who are contributing their “treasure” to their annual giving program, they must have an equal number who would be willing to give their “time and talent” if a meaningful opportunity was available that fit into their busy lifestyles.

So that got me thinking…

Why not have an annual mentoring campaign in the spring where the annual giving team would be temporarily reassembled to call alumni and ask them to be “active” mentors to incoming freshmen!   Experience will tell you who are going to be the best prospects.  Perhaps it’s alumni who graduated in the past 5 years, because they still remember the tips and techniques they learned the hard way to advance their careers.  Maybe it’s boomers who are near retirement who have decades of experience, knowledge and contacts, or perhaps it’s alumni who were part of clubs and organizations on campus.

Imagine how easy it would be to get alumni to participate if your callers said something like this:

Hi (name), I wanted to reach out to you to let you know we have adopted a new program for incoming freshman where we partner them with an alum who can mentor them, offer advice and perhaps introduce them to other alumni that might be able to help them get job shadowing opportunities, internships or even jobs.    As you know it’s a tough job market for students today.  Our research is showing students with internships are not only getting jobs at a higher rate, but also higher pay.   Would you be willing to look at information that outlines how you can be an official (mascot name) mentor?

Whether you have 300 or 3000 incoming freshman it should be relatively easy to make this happen!   What if you had even 10 percent of your alumni volunteering to mentor, provide job shadowing experiences and making commitments to provide internships and jobs for students and grads?  That could easily guarantee each freshman had a mentor!

Getting started is easy!

  1. Write up a one page proposal outlining how you want to use the Annual Giving fundraising team to run a spring Annual Mentoring Campaign.
  2. Develop a simple way to match and introduce students.   It could be something as simple as introducing them via LinkedIn or an email.
  3. Meet with the development and annual giving team to share the idea with them.

As much as we’d like it, no new program runs completely on it’s on.  It will take some time to organize your first year campaign, as well as to develop an automated system to make sure that students and mentors are connecting, but the long term benefits will be phenomenal.

If I were you, I’d also create an outline of what the mentors are supposed to do.  Give them a “Job Description” that includes their responsibilities and what they are accountable for.  In that job description, I would encourage them to remind students to be taking ownership of their careers as well as visiting the career center.

I could envision a time where every student coming on your campus is assigned not one, but multiple mentors who will act as a support group for the student during his or her entire college experience.   And, I could see, as long as the student did what was required, this team would do everything in their power to make sure that student had a job by graduation day!

This program could result in more grads getting jobs by graduation day, then any other activity.  And the great thing about it is, once it’s up and running, it should run itself!

What do you think?

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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

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