This edition of the Alumni Monitor Report reviews the user experience of alumni mobile apps, with a special focus on the gift giving process. We examine the alumni apps of seven schools, looking at the donation functions offered and alumni outreach conducted through the apps. This report also looks at the ease-of-use and design of each school’s app.
Most of the mobile apps in this report promote gift giving for alumni. Six out of seven schools include links to the mobile giving process. Three of the apps – those from Duke, Northwestern and Bucknell – allow gift giving to be conducted directly from the app. Three others – Harvard, GW and Northeastern – redirect users to the school’s mobile site to make their donation. Stony Brook, on the other hand, does not host a donation interface on its alumni app, nor does it direct users to a mobile site. Instead, its app serves as a news aggregator and advice tool.
Schools use a variety of outreach techniques to make their apps appealing to alumni. Many schools lean on networking opportunities in their apps, providing an alumni directory and geolocation-enabled maps to help users find other alumni. Six out of seven schools include an online directory, allowing graduates to find other alumni who may be in a similar field. These tools frequently allow users to search by name, graduation year, school and current employment or industry. Two schools – Bucknell and Northeastern – offer a geolocationenabled map of other alumni in a nearby radius.
Another common form of outreach is the promotion of alumni events within mobile apps. Six apps offer calendars of upcoming alumni events. Of these, all schools offer information on networking meet-ups, with five presenting a list of sporting events and five announcing professional organization events. One school, George Washington, includes information about online digital networking events – a rare form of alumni outreach in this coverage group.
Promotion of social media is also common on apps. Eighty-six percent of schools promote linking users’ social media profiles to their account. Going beyond this, three schools will fill alumni profile information with data from a social media profile, and donation information can be auto-filled by two schools: Harvard and Duke.
A few schools also add value for alumni by providing information on alumni deals. Both George Washington and Stony Brook include pages on their apps that enumerate benefits and deals available for alumni. Stony Brook, for its part, includes insurance deals from Liberty Mutual and the school’s Alumni Insurance Program.
This report identifies several best practices related to alumni apps. When possible, schools should endeavor to make it easy to donate directly from the app. Additionally, navigation must be intuitive and efficient. Top apps also provide compelling reasons for alumni to visit the app, including directories and information on alumni discounts. Directories should offer a variety of input fields to facilitate fellow other alumni location.