Measure, Iterate and Innovate
- Establish achievable metrics. Developing alumni programming will require an investment of your time and resources. It is important to ensure that your efforts are worthwhile by establishing in advance the criteria that you will use to evaluate the success and measure the impact of your programming.
- Run pre-program cost analysis. Prior to launching a program, it is crucial to run a cost analysis to ascertain the funds it will require and to determine whether you have room in your budget to absorb the cost.
- Systematically track data. Once you launch an initiative, begin tracking and recording all data. This information should be measured across the pre-established metrics. As a general guideline, your measurements should assess participation rates, cost, participant satisfaction and overall impact. As previously stated, maintain open channels of communication with participants in order to solicit feedback from your community. Conducting surveys prior to and following events and programs can also be an extremely effective tool to help you evaluate your success.
- Perform post-program cost-benefit analysis. Following the completion of an event or program, perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the program was worth its price. Determine the cost per participant, whether the overall results justified it and whether your resources could be better allocated elsewhere.
- Evaluate your results and adapt as necessary. Designing your alumni programming should not be a static process, but an evolving one that requires constant communication with your alumni community and a willingness to adapt and respond to their interests. After completing a cost-benefit analysis and overall measure of the success of the program, you may find that some programs were far more successful than others, and you may want to adjust your alumni strategy accordingly. If you launch a pilot program that does not yield positive results, do not be afraid to cut your losses and focus your resources on other more successful programs. You will be much more likely to achieve the results you desire and sustain a satisfied, vibrant alumni community.