In 2018, the Schuler Education Foundation embarked on an important initiative with five national liberal arts colleges to explore attitudes and behaviors of their millennial alumni (defined as 2002-17 graduates). Working with the five institutions and RNL, the Schuler Initiative focuses on learning more about effectively engaging young alumni and encouraging their participation in giving—which is often half the annual rate of older alumni and is declining over time.
For more than 20 years, the Schuler Education Foundation has worked with deserving first-generation, underrepresented students from low-income families to help those students gain access to and succeed at highly selective liberal arts colleges and beyond. Now it is working to support higher education and keep it sustainable for students in new ways.
Market research and direct alumni feedback are a priority for the Foundation. At the outset of the Schuler Initiative, RNL fielded a survey to millennial graduates of the five pilot colleges. The survey is now expanding and will include up to 50 colleges and universities.
A wealth of data in 10 minutes
The survey should take alumni about 10 minutes to complete and includes multiple choice and open-ended response questions on topics such as:
- Where alumni direct their volunteer time and financial resources today.
- Alumni attitudes toward giving to their alma mater.
- Issues that young alumni believe colleges and universities should be focused on solving.
- What channels young alumni prefer as they receive information from their alma mater.
- What alumni feel would increase their likelihood to give.
Results from the initial survey with five pilot colleges
The initial survey was fielded in fall 2018. More than 10,000 millennial alumni from five national liberal arts colleges responded. They offered (often at length) their opinions about volunteering, philanthropy, and their college experience. Insights included:
- Young alumni were highly satisfied with their college experience.
- Those who also indicated that they felt “connected” to their alma mater were much more likely to give.
- Young alumni support a range of causes, with education, social justice, healthcare, and children topping the list.
- Young alumni were significantly more likely to support specific faculty and student campaigns over the general “annual fund.”
- Student debt, the investment of endowment funds, and career services weigh heavily on young alumni and their decision to donate.
Why participate in the survey?
The survey is a unique opportunity to gather direct feedback from your 2002-17 undergraduate alumni. The survey is private but not anonymous, so the results offer a unique opportunity to learn more, develop actionable strategies, and apply the insights to personalize communication. We think it’s a game changer.
What’s required to participate in the survey?
Participation is simple, all participating institutions need to:
- Agree to share alumni email address information, and have your aggregate data included anonymously in a national report published by RNL.
- Sign a basic Letter of Agreement (LOA) that protects your data.
- Securely send a file including the fields outlined in RNL’s standard data specifications.
- Send an email message to your 2002 – 2017 alumni in advance of the survey launch (sample text will be provided by RNL, but message should come from your institution).
What will institutions receive post-survey?
Following the survey administration period (approximately two weeks), participating institutions will receive an overall, high level report on your alumni responses as well as a data file with responses by ID number. Following completion of the entire survey, some qualitative analysis reporting is also planned.
Who do we contact with questions?
Please email Shay Galto, Market Research Consultant, at shay.galto@RuffaloNL.com.
Sign us up! We’d like to participate!
To officially let us know that you would like to participate, please fill out this quick opt-in survey. Please note that survey participation is limited to about 50 institutions, and we will need to make some decisions to make sure the results are representative of the national population. Opting into the survey early increases your chance of participation.