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Alumni Relations by the numbers

Kelly Redder and friends
Kelly Redder and friends

Anyone who knows me knows I love to crunch numbers. My favorite tasks are making sense of numbers, identifying relationships between them, and comparing them over time. Once numbers are organized, they can tell a story. Once you know the story, then you can help write the next chapter.

I recall my first day on the job at RIT; I “ran the numbers.” Within an hour I knew that College of Applied Science and Technology had the largest alumni population (today more than 29,500 alumni!). I knew that one-third of RIT’s graduates lived in Rochester and nearly 60 percent lived in New York state. Fifty percent of our total alumni population has graduated since 1986. I knew that you could find RIT alumni in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

I also knew that “alumni participation rate in the annual fund” was a standard measurement of alumni loyalty and a metric determining whether or not your alumni relations program was successful. RIT at the time: 7 percent. National average: 20 percent.

Four years later, with a total of 1,260 events, more than 2,200 alumni volunteers,and a 9.8 percent participation rate, it is still about the numbers. Our numbers have improved considerably, but they still don’t compare to peer universities as well as we would like. RIT’s alumni population grows nearly 3 percent with each graduating class. Our denominator keeps growing, so it literally takes nearly 1,000 gifts to the Fund for RIT to move us just 1 percent. We’ve grown to a 9.8 percent participation rate, but we’ve increased actual numbers of alumni donors 38.9 percent. This is a great story!

The entire RIT family made this amazing impact. Not just our division – the area responsible for the numbers – but all faculty, staff and alumni volunteers. In order to have a good alumni base, you need to start with happy and satisfied students.

Student culture here is evolving and the result is increased interest in RIT and its future. A great alumni base is coming – it is just going to take some time and it’s going to take all of us to make it happen! We need our alumni volunteers and the RIT faculty and staff to provide some good old-fashioned customer service to our students, helping to make their time here at RIT wonderful. They are only here four or five years – but in reality, RIT can have them for life if we put our minds to it.

Here are some more numbers and an action item: Alumni, there are nearly 97,000 of you. If you each focused on our alumni-in-training – our students – and volunteered in some capacity, that would mean approximately .15 students. That’s right; there are 15 alumni for every student. This year keep that number in your mind. Your time, energy and support of .15 students each this year will help produce a collective 3,543 happy graduates in May – putting us over the 100,000 alumni population mark – the beginning of the next chapter. How cool a story is that?

To get involved, go to www.rit.edu/alumni and click on “volunteer opportunities.”

Kelly Redder
Executive Director, Office of Alumni Relations