What’s the Best Alumni Management Software?
Whether it’s for networking or fundraising, alumni management software can be a powerful tool. Here’s how to choose the best one for your institution.
Tapping into a network of your fellow college graduates can be a very, very useful thing. Whether you’re an alumnus looking to network your way into a new career, or a university looking to boost your fundraising efforts, getting involved on an alumni community platform is basically a no-brainer.
The question, of course, is what is the best alumni management software?
Ahead, we’re exploring what alumni management software is, looking at some of the best alumni network platforms, and perhaps even taking you back to campus (well, at least mentally).
What is alumni management software?
Alumni management software is a service that helps you bring together alumni—usually graduates from a college or university—into a virtual community where they can connect, collaborate, network, and more.
You’ll often see this kind of software referred to as an alumni community platform or alumni membership management software, too.
No matter what it’s called, the best alumni management software will be a boon for both sides—the university and the alumni in question. Let’s look a little closer at the kind of benefits these platforms tend to offer.
1. Build and analyze a database of alumni
If you’re a university looking to build a database of your alumni, the right kind of alumni membership management software will let you do just that. You can collect data on the industries they work in and their level of seniority. You can also keep track of what part of the world they live in easily.
Ideally, whatever alumni management software you choose will allow you to dive even deeper. Emphasis on manage, here: We’re talking the ability to manage your alumni members, download member data and activity, plus access to detailed analytics on each of your members, their posts, and all other activity.
2. Networking, job placement, and knowledge sharing
Another benefit of an alumni community platform is the sheer possibility of connection. Because let’s face it: Alumni who have graduated 10 or 20 years apart don’t often have any means of connecting with each other. They might not even know that they could help each other out.
But with the right alumni management software in place, they’ll be able to connect, collaborate, and perhaps most importantly, network. Alumni who are more established in their careers can offer advice or mentorship. Recent graduates can gain access to job opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise heard of.
Plus, if you dedicate your alumni network platform as a true community space, you can take it even further. When you offer community-forward features like direct messaging, a customizable activity feed, and more, you open up the potential for connection between your alumni members. Extra points for platforms that offer other ways to structure connections, whether it’s through mastermind groups, virtual events, or online courses.
3. Virtual events that everyone can come to
Speaking of virtual events, let’s get real for a second: Some graduates are more financially successful than others. Not everyone can afford to travel back to their alma mater for every event or reunion.
The best alumni management software recognizes this and understands that one of the best ways to keep a community engaged is with a regular schedule. What does that look like? Maybe it’s formal mini-lectures every Wednesday and less formal virtual happy hours every other Friday. Perhaps you bring in successful or established alumni every Monday to take questions and expend advice. You get the idea.
With a robust alumni network platform, you can widen your network of active, involved alumni. And in the end, that’s better for everyone: By casting a wider net, you’ll have a larger, more diverse group of people, each one providing a huge value add to another.
4. Fundraising made easy
Most institutions rely heavily on sponsors, fundraising, fancy galas, and the like. But usually, asking for said contributions isn’t exactly a straightforward process. More often than not, you’re sending your alumni something in the mail, asking them to give to a college or university that they may not have thought about in years.
But with an alumni community platform, you’re offering a ton of value—enough value to inspire your members to give back financially. And you can give them a variety of ways to do so, whether it’s with tiered memberships for those who can afford it, paid groups where alumni in certain fields can come together to navigate challenges or a yearly virtual conference.
Now that you understand what the benefits of alumni management software can be, let’s go a little deeper into the features you should look for.
What features should alumni management software have?
Above, we offered a broad overview of the kinds of features included in the best alumni management software. But it’s worth getting a little more explicit about the key features that can be the difference between an alumni community that’s successful, and one that is, well, less so.
Here are the must-have features to look out for.
A website builder with iOS and Android access
Building your own alumni management software from scratch is very expensive, very time-consuming, and more often than not, very nightmarish.
Your best bet is to utilize an alumni network platform with a modern website builder. That way, all you have to do is plug in your institution’s logo, brand colors, and do a little configuring. That’s it!
To make the most of your alumni management software, you’ll also want to go with an option that’s powerful enough to expand with you in the future. Above, we spun up a few different ideas for fundraising: online courses, membership tiers, paid groups. Even if you’re not going to start with those features, you’ll want to leave the door open for the possibility of adding them in the future.
Lastly, your ideal alumni community platform will be instantly available on the web, iOS, and Android—so your alumni can touch base wherever they are, whenever they want.
Tools for community building and management
The best alumni management software is equal parts community-building platform and member management software.
As far as community building goes, look out for the following native features:
- A customizable activity feed with capabilities for text, links, images, and video.
- The ability to create posts, comments, and cheers.
- Beautiful member profiles with custom categories (think graduation year and/or career field).
- Private direct messaging between members.
- The ability to find members by location (to enable alumni to meet up on their own).
The point of thinking of your alumni community platform as just that—a community—is that it opens the door for both sides to reap all the benefits. Your alumni get the chance to navigate challenges together, build relationships with each other, and accomplish things that they couldn’t on their own. And the people behind the institution get a chance to keep their university top of mind for their alumni and open up new funding opportunities.
Still, with great power comes great responsibility. In other words, the more successful your alumni community platform is, and the more it grows, the more robust membership management tools you need.
Here are a few to look out for:
- The ability to charge for membership.
- Tools to mass notify members and message all members.
- Downloadable membership data and activity.
- The ability to create exclusive content, premium groups, and the like.
- Tools to expand down the line with features like online courses.
With the above tools, you’ll be able to streamline the ways your members communicate with each other and the ways you communicate with them, too.
Now let’s see what platforms will let you do it all.
Alumni management software #1: Hivebrite
Hivbrite positions itself firmly as the go-to alumni network platform. As such, the software offers solid community management tools, including the ability to add, update, and moderate content, plus tools to manage your events and payments in one place.
That being said, there’s not much room to grow or get creative. So if you want to go beyond just alumni management at any point, you simply won’t be able to.
Pros of Hivebrite
Hivebrite offers robust alumni management software. You can create membership plans, set up donations, post jobs, share opportunities, and much more. Plus, your members will be able to privately message each other and customize their profiles.
Cons of Hivebrite
That being said, Hivebrite won’t give you any room to grow. You can set up somewhat limited memberships, but there’s no chance for premium groups or online courses. Additionally, some users have said that as far as alumni community platforms go, Hivebrite has a steep learning curve and that its mobile app is seriously lacking, especially when compared to its desktop version.
The bottom line: Hivebrite is certainly a strong contender for best alumni management software: it has all the tools to build, manage, and grow an alumni community. That being said, its mobile app leaves much to be desired, and the platform offers little to no room for growth.
Alumni management software #2: Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks isn’t your traditional alumni management software. Instead, it’s a dynamic and versatile software-as-a-service where creators can bring together their community, courses, and membership subscriptions together in one place under their own brand instantly available on the web, iOS, and Android.
Managing alumni on a Mighty Network isn’t just easy—it opens up major possibilities for growth down the line. You’ll have fantastic member management tools at the ready, like member analytics, the ability to charge for membership, and more. Plus, you’ll have plenty of community-building tools at your disposal, from private direct messaging and a customizable activity feed to beautiful member profiles.
Pros of Mighty Networks
With a Mighty Network, you can expand your idea of an alumni community platform. Yes, you’ll have plenty of ways to encourage connections between your members, enable them to build relationships, and more. But you’ll also have the room to expand down the line with paid membership tiers, premium mastermind groups, online courses, and more.
Even better? Both you and your members will be able to access your alumni network platform wherever they are, via the web and native mobile apps. That’s huge: There’s a greater chance to stay top-of-mind for your members when you can be with them wherever they are.
Cons of Mighty Networks
The majority of Mighty Networks’ features are native—except live video. However, it’s a feature our team is actively working on and hoping to roll out in the very near future. (Update: native live video is available in online course now!)
The bottom line: Utilizing a Mighty Network as alumni management software is a fantastic way to launch and grow a community of alumni and fundraise in not-so-typical ways. If you’re looking for an alumni network platform that has all the tools for you to succeed and then some, Mighty Networks is your best bet.
Alumni management software #3: Almabase
Almabase is a powerful alumni management software solution for alumni engagement and fundraising. As a platform, it focuses on helping institutions acquire new donors, drive event attendance, and increase digital engagement. Like Hivebrite, it’s a good get if your one and only mission is managing alumni. But if you’re looking for something a little deeper and more community-focused, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Pros of Almabase
Almabase works alongside your existing alumni database with integrations like Ellucian and Salesforce. While its main focus is on fundraising—their site mentions peer-to-peer crowdfunding—and virtual and in-person events, they also have somewhat of a community aspect, with an alumni directory, chances for networking, and a career center.
Cons of Almabase
That being said, many Almabase users complain about the limited customization. And that’s not all: Almabase has no app to speak of. It’s a missed opportunity for sure, especially considering it’s 2021 and we’re all, for better or worse, always on our mobile devices.
The bottom line: Almabase can be a good solution if you’re looking for your typical alumni management software. You’ll be able to get the basics done, but you won’t be able to expand into paid memberships or anything of the like. And perhaps more importantly, your alumni won’t be able to access their alumni community platform on their mobile devices—a huge loss.
The best alumni management software? Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks wasn’t built with alumni in mind, but it was built with community in mind. Because of that, it has all the tools (and then some) to build a robust alumni community platform—one where graduates from every season can connect, collaborate, network, and navigate challenges together.
It’s also the only alumni management software that lets you get a little creative with your fundraising efforts: think online courses, premium mastermind groups, and more.
And with access to native mobile apps, your alumni can get in touch with each other wherever, whenever, whatever. And that’s saying something.
If you’re ready to get started with a new kind of alumni management software, let’s get started today.
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