Happy Chinese New Year to friends at home and abroad. The Spring Festival is upon us (actual date is February 19) and I wanted to share a few thoughts in response to a recent post on Inside Philanthropy:
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The contributor writes about what I agree is often an untapped resource: our international alumni. The post is about the experiences of an Indian-born student who attended UCLA and earned his master’s and doctorate degree in engineering. The alum had such a positive experience he made several large gifts which, over time, has resulted in the most recent gift of $2.5 million to build a semiconductor lab. Good for the alum and good for UCLA!
However, we know gifts of this kind are not the norm and that we are aspiring to broaden participation beyond giving to international alumni volunteerism in the form of student recruiters, regional chapter leadership, event hosts, internship sponsors and career advisors, and alumni association board members.
Yes, current donors will be more likely to donate again but current volunteers could also be likely to sustain their participation and, when it is a good experience, the idea of making a contribution may take on more meaning and relevance in their lives.
The key is for universities to remain relevant in the lives and hearts of alumni abroad. I’ve written before about the linkage between international student satisfaction and international alumni engagement. UCLA’s story here is a case in point. So, relevance should begin as early as possible with students. Alumni can help create a better student experience and, in turn, feel more involved than ever in the life of their alma mater.
It could be a win-win.