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February 06, 2006

Increase the number of Class Notes

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best!

The best because they take virtually little time to implement and more importantly they have little to no cost involved.  No budget committee, no permission required, nothing more than executing on the idea.

That is just what Harcum College did. 

Harcum College was interested in getting more Class Notes from their alumni for their upcoming alumni magazine.  They realized the more their alumni shared with them about the milestones and experiences in their lives, the more alumni would be connected to their institution.  Too often, those of us in the alumni industry forget how powerful Class Notes are in creating a bond between our alumni and the alumni association. 

Think about it. 

By providing a Class Note, your alumni are telling you they want others to know what’s happening in their lives and as a by product, they are going to be curious on what is happening in the lives of their classmates and friends. 

While most of us don’t think about it, submitting Class Notes is an interactive experience. 


Because when someone submits a Class Note, they intend to look to view it either on your website or in print.  And when they see it, they feel good about themselves and your organization.  So for something as simple as posting the Class Notes of your alumni, your organization gains PR points.  You know the drill.  Alumni that feel good about their relationship with their alma mater will become more involved and contribute.

So, now that we are all pumped up about Class Notes, let’s take a look at the simply elegant concept to get additional Class Notes that Harcum used.   Their first step was to create an HTML email with a subject line of:

Someone wants to hear from you!

..and text within the email that said:

Have you had a recent job change or promotion:  Career change?  Completed an additional degree program? Bachelor? Masters? Certificate Program? Any new life changes that you would love to share with friends from the Harcum Community?  Do you want to let your former suitemates, roommates, and classmates know how they can contact you via email?  Have you connected with Harcum friends recently and have pictures we can post?   

We would love to share any pictures, email contact information and new life news with your friends within the Harcum Community.

Included in the HTML email were about a dozen comment lines which alumni could hand write in their class note. 

According to Geoff Harrington, Executive Director of College Advancement:

“We sent two blasts several days apart of about 1500 emails each, with catchy lines like "someone Wants to Hear from You" and "We're Curious." In less than one week, 100 additional alumni responded with class notes, for a total of 130 class notes, a 500% increase over the 25 that we had in the last issue. 51 different graduating classes are represented.”

What’s so great about this idea? 

First of all people today are so busy, they really don’t have time to act or think.  This email not only asked them to provide a Class Note but gave them ideas in which to share their “life” experiences. As you consider this idea, you might consider including examples in a bulleted fashion like:

Do you have any news to share with others in the following areas?

      • Career Change
      • Awards
      • Children
      • House/Car
      • Vacations/Travel
      • Community involvement
      • Hobbies
      • New Degrees
      • Volunteer activity

Another option to improve on this idea would be to include your fax, email address and or mailing address for them to send the class note to.  Most importantly is to create a sense of urgency increase them to act. 

To do so you might include a statement like:

In order to make the XXXX publication of the alumni magazine, please submit your class note by XXXX.  We have limited space to post class notes. To ensure your class note appears in this edition, send this at your earliest convenience!

So what are your thoughts?  Share with others how this idea can be improved.

Posted by Don Philabaum on February 6, 2006 at 05:07 PM | Permalink


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