Alumni are changing and so is your database | DMA

Filter By

Show All

Connect to


Alumni are changing and so is your database


I still like to think of myself as a recent graduate. Those days where I had my first chance at an independent life and got to live in a brand new place with my friends seems like it was just yesterday. Truth be told, I graduated in 2015 and have been an adult for a whole two years, so it’s really not that recent.

But when I get an email from my old university giving updates about current students and new technologies, buildings and awards that the university has, I get a little warm fuzzy feeling. Not because I know any of the students, but I guess it’s still that sense of belonging somewhere that held great importance to me. Plus it means I get invited to alumni events at the university. So technically I never really left.

Listen up if you’re a university – your alumni most likely love hearing from you and as they’re earning now, they might even pledge a donation.

So how can you ensure that your communications are on point?

university library

When I first went to university, I didn’t understand quite how many students there were. There’s whole student villages filled with only people my age. Every year, so many students graduate and they leave their old university email accounts behind – so it’s vital to ensure that you have a correct email address to begin with. You can perform email address cleansing and validation to find errors in the email address and check that they are still live and valid. If they’re missing email address you can append the information based on reliable sources – giving you extra channels of communication.

Once out of university, your alumni will be starting their new lives and more often than not, it’s pretty soon before living with the parents becomes that little bit too much and off they move into their own place. Now their parents might miss their little babies who have flown the nest (just kidding, they probably booked a Caribbean Cruise as soon as they last bag was out the door), so there’s not much point in sending mail to their home – you need to identify the alumni’s new abode. Identifying goneaways and movers will flag up alumni who have changed home and let you know where they have moved to so you’re not wasting your resources.

Ensure your alumni continue to associate you with positive memories by not messaging them multiple times with the same message. This can be done through deduplication, plus you don’t have to be worried as multiple duplicate accounts can be merged into one without having information lost, so you end up with a nicely detailed account that you know doesn’t have an evil twin hiding elsewhere in your database.


On a more sincere note, make sure that you don’t cause upset through contacting alumni who may have sadly deceased – whether that’s through email, phone or direct mail. Screening your database to identify these people is based on comparing your database with reliable sources to avoid causing distress to the deceased’s relatives and it means you will have spare budget to allocate to other areas.

So all in all, it’s wise to keep your database in tip top condition if you’re a university. You’ll probably find that you’ll free up some budget to go to other projects and if you keep your alumni happy, they’ll be more likely to donate.

All this talk of university has got me nostalgic for those student times. Ahh well – at least I now have a dishwasher, a flat with no damp and a pet that I don’t have to hide on house inspections.

Hear more from the DMA

Please login to comment.