Strategy Fifteen (August 2012 update)

Deepen our engagement with a supportive network of alumni and friends

The University has a long tradition of engagement with our family of alumni and supporters, who are both advocates for our work and critical friends. A coordinated and consistent approach across the University to engagement with our alumni and supporters is important to achieving our principal goals.

To advance this aim we will continue to broaden opportunities for engagement with the University through our online groups and local and interest-based alumni chapters, program of events, public lecture series, and volunteer programs. We will also provide more, and more convenient, opportunities for philanthropic support.

In 2012, the University’s Development and Alumni and Events Office have been merged in order to develop the more coordinated and consistent approach to engagement with alumni and supporters identified as necessary in strategy 15.

15(a) Develop a University-wide volunteer program, including recruitment, management, training and recognition for volunteers.

The first phase of this initiative has been implemented, with the establishment in 2011 of a best-practice volunteer program for alumni relations encompassing a full breadth of services, from recruitment and training to recognition and measurement of outcomes. In 2011, 810 volunteers were registered. The second phase, introducing a University-wide volunteer program, is currently underway through the Volunteer Working Party. The program will be in place by late 2013, when an annual reporting cycle of volunteer activity will be implemented to measure ongoing volunteer contributions across the University.

15(b) Develop further an alumni loyalty program to provide recognition and benefit.

Implementation of this program has been deferred to 2013 due to financial constraints. A modest range of local benefits have been offered in 2012, including discounts on courses through the Centre for Continuing Education and free entry to Sydney Ideas lectures, and long-term incentives are being planned.

15(c) Ensure alignment of our international and alumni strategies to maximise the benefit of our relationships with alumni groups, and galvanise a growing worldwide network of supporters.

Ten international alumni associations and chapters have been established and are at varying stages of program development and outreach. Well-established chapters operate in the UK, USA and Hong Kong, and associations and chapters are being developed in the University’s priority regions of China and south-east Asia. More than 20 international events were held in 2011, an increase from six in 2010, and 28 have been held to date in 2012, 16 of them in greater China. These events enhance the University’s reputation and build networks which benefit young alumni and students returning home.

The Alumni and Events Office, in conjunction with the International Portfolio, is working with the international associations and chapters to consolidate their governance, further develop their programs in order to promote the University’s profile, and develop a prospect pipeline for donations. Joint planning is being undertaken through the SEG International Committee in association with the Alumni Council.

The Alumni and Events Office is also collaborating with the Development Office on a strategy to increase international alumni gifts and participation rates, for implementation in 2013.

15(d) Establish a coordinated University-wide management model for events and public programs, such as Sydney Ideas, that generate intellectual and creative engagement and a sense of community.

In 2011, the Sydney Ideas Program was integrated with the events team, providing a provisional central service for support of public programs and stakeholder-based events, with the capacity to seek potential synergies and integration opportunities. The Alumni and Events Office now provides advice on event coordination, communications/promotion, database and ticketing systems.

The number of central and faculty events increased from 90 in 2010 to 138 in 2011, and the number of guests attending increased by 5 percent to 20,000. Over 70 events have been held so far in 2012. The number of Sydney Ideas lectures rose from 60 in 2010 to 70 in 2011, with audience numbers increasing by 15 percent to 10,000. To date in 2012, 4,300 people have attended 25 Sydney Ideas lectures.

A new online Events Calendar was introduced in 2012, which has resulted in improved visibility of University events, enhanced user experience and community engagement and helped provide more efficient event planning and improved staff efficiency.

Phase 2 of the Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment Services Review (initiative 17a) will develop a new staffing model for event management which aims to ensure that division and faculty-driven strategies and centrally-offered event programs are aligned.

15(e) Plan and launch a University-wide fundraising campaign with a defined target, led by the Vice-Chancellor.

Planning for a major fundraising campaign is well advanced. We have constituted a Vice-Chancellor’s Campaign Board and held a Campaign Leadership Retreat at which the campaign goal, launch date, end date and themes were endorsed.

To gain stakeholder opinions of the proposed campaign and the University, the Development Office undertook a series of interviews with more than 200 donors and potential donors. The interviews provided an assessment of current development operations and donor relations, and also gathered information about our donors and their willingness to give. A report about these interviews has been submitted to SEG through the Alumni, Development and Marketing Committee.

We expect the University’s campaign to be the most successful comprehensive fundraising effort in the history of Australian higher education. This will be measured by a sustainable philanthropic increase of charitable contributions in both dollars and the number of donors. The chief benefit of a campaign is that long after it ends, the higher level of philanthropic support is generally sustained and does not diminish over time.