In the 11 weeks since MBU hosted its Alumni Summit, offering alumni and guests an opportunity to learn about university operations and provide feedback, administrators and staff have implemented several initiatives and ideas that were generated at the event, tracking progress and successes along the way, particularly in the areas of admissions, fundraising, alumni relations, and university relations.
The Office of University Advancement recorded major fundraising successes in March and April with the successful close of the Pave the Way and Day to Lead the Way campaigns, exceeding ambitious goals and providing much-needed funding for Alumnae House renovations and the MBU annual fund, respectively.
The Pave the Way crowdfunding campaign also reflected an ongoing effort to more effectively engage alumni fundraising efforts, specifically, campus repair and upgrade projects.
All Alumni Summit attendees were included in Day to Lead the Way promotions, a new restricted gift option to the Mary Baldwin College for Women has been highlighted in recent alumni enewsletters as well as on the Day to Lead the Way online giving page, and work continues with alumni to host fundraising events.
To further broaden alumni outreach, the Alumni Association Board of Directors is seeking to identify regional representatives and has formed a sub-committee to create guidelines and promote chapters. Furthermore, to provide more transparency with the Alumni Board, MBU has updated alumni webpages to reflect the board’s duties, how seats are filled, and where current board members are from. In addition, Board Chair Theresa Cash Lewis ’99 has regularly contributed to the alumni enewsletter.
The alumni enewsletter is now distributed every other week, instead of just once a month. To further personalize engagement with alumni, MBU has extended personal outreach regarding Homecoming and other events, invited alums to take part in fundraising initiatives, and has embarked on a Thank-a-Thon, which began in April, to thank alumni via phone for their support of the university.
To help develop clearer lines of communication with alumni, staff members continue to work on ways to share information within various departments at MBU to track alumni calls and requests for volunteering.
Plans to create an alumni-student mentoring program are underway, with the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted leading the way.
In an attempt to provide class officer contact information on the MBU website, class secretary information has been confirmed; class officer information is still being verified.
The Office of Admissions and Office of External Affairs have been hard at work to promote MBU, including special initiatives in the Mary Baldwin College for Women, and to include alumni in those efforts.
To increase the university’s interactions with large, state-based homeschooling communities, MBU has placed ads with the Virginia Homeschool Association, North Carolina Homeschool Association, the National Association for Gifted, and with Supporting the Needs for the Gifted, or SENG. The university has also developed a video to promote MBU’s offerings to homeschool students, has digital campaigns running to promote this effort, and is in the process of connecting with all available state-based organizations.
With regard to alumni engagement in student recruitment efforts, more than 100 alumni are signed up to participate in the Baldwin Recruitment Alumni Volunteer Organization, or BRAVO, program and 26 have completed mandatory training and the participation agreement. The Alumni Board plans to send a letter soon to encourage completion of this training and more BRAVO training dates will be available soon.
So far, alumni have written more than 700 notecards to prospective students. Admissions staff will soon follow up with alumni who wrote notecards to students who have decided to enroll. Many alumni have also participated in “yield” events in key markets to lock in accepted students, including Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond.
With regard to improving and expanding MBCW-specific marketing programs, MBU has increased efforts through digital marketing, media relations (including a feature in the April issue of Virginia Business), and direct marketing to school counselors. New scholarship opportunities have also been announced and are being promoted in key markets. Staff continues to research summer enrichment camp opportunities as a way to market MBU and develop early pipelines into the institution.
MBU has surveyed more than 20,000 school counselors nationally and internationally and has received more than 1,000 responses. From this, the admissions office has learned the best times to reach out to school counselors, and, as a result, has planned to hold a drive-/fly-in for counselors this fall and again in spring 2018, providing two opportunities for counselors to visit campus.
MBU continues to look at ways to better communicate and engage with alumni. In addition to the increase in frequency in alumni enewsletters, the External Affairs office published the 175th anniversary commemorative issue of Boldly Baldwin in April and continues work on the next issue of the magazine, which will resume publication of Class Notes submitted from alumni of all class years. The All-Alumni Homecoming in April was a resounding success and another chance for alumni to reconnect with each other and with MBU.