The hitchhikers guide to the strategy
“The functions of the development team and the alumni
relations team were integrated for the purposes of interna-tional
advancement,” Angha Childress and Daniel Spadafore
from MSU office of international advancement explain.
In the current structure, they explain, one staff member
specialises in corporate and foundation relations and is in
charge of the international advancement strategy for fund-raising
and alumni relations; a second manages individual
philanthropy, and a third staff member oversees alumni
clubs and volunteers.
“While we have our specialities, we all see international
alumni engagement as part of our roles. Prior to this, inter-national
fundraising and alumni relations were separated
and it left everyone confused,” they say.
One piece of advice for interested institutions is to not
“try to boil the ocean”. Targeted efforts on a handful of
markets determined by the number of international alumni,
fundraising prospects and existing university relationships
helped the MSU team remain focused and explain their
strategy across campus.
The team sought partnerships on campus to work on a
strategic approach to international alumni engagement,
including with the business college and international student
support services and admissions. The key is mutual benefit.
“We are cognisant that there are functional areas where
alumni involvement makes sense and other where it doesn’t.
Finding projects and events that are mutually beneficial and
of interest to our alumni is critical to ensuring partnerships
with other campus units,” they explain.
A “shared agenda” is indeed what is needed according to
Dobson, who maintains that there should be multiple teams
42 | THE PIE REVIEW | ISSUE #21
Without leveraging global alumni,
institutions risk stretching their
staff, wasting resources and
depriving current students.
involved and benefitting from international alumni relations:
from the marketing team to the international partnership
office, to cover areas such as enhancing the student expe-rience
and the research agenda.
“Global alumni engagement means something to each of
these teams and the institutional strategy should be aligned
across all those functions,” she says.
This applies to data management as well. The key is to
identify where data on global alumni is held and centralise
it, creating the need for leadership to support an internatio-nal
data management committee to develop a system for
centralising the information.
This would help identify missing pieces of information
and get a clear picture of where the current relationships
with international stakeholders are.
After all, global alumni relations is integral to internatio-nalisation,
Dobson insists, and it’s not something that can
be organised by just one office. “The call to action is much
larger,” she says.
“The cost of doing nothing is going to be greater than the
cost of just doing something.”
Without fully leveraging the opportunities presented by
global alumni networks, universities don’t only risk stret-ching
their recruitment staff and wasting resources, but also
depriving their current students of valuable professional
knowledge and connections – and ultimately forfeiting their
mission of widening access to education.
“We are missing out on opportunities to build a pipeline
to access education for all,” says Dobson, mentioning the
important role that global alumni can play in helping to
reach more students in countries with limited higher educa-tion
The price institutions pay for not building their alumni
network, for this “relationship drain” as Dobson puts it, is
quite incalculable. “We are going to miss another chunk of
engagement with the next generation,” she concludes.
“We are going to miss out on the stories.”
We are missing out
on opportunities to build
a pipeline to access
education for all