Archives for posts with tag: New Media

As part of our ongoing series of interviews with professionals in development, alumni relations, marketing and communications we share with you the thoughts of Naomi Nunn from the University of Edinburgh.  We would like to thank Naomi for taking the time to talk to us.  If you are interested in sharing your own experiences in this way then please do get in touch or complete our survey.

My Career in…. Marketing and Alumni Relations

Naomi Nunn leads the alumni relations programme for the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

What was your first “proper” job? Does it relate at all to what you’re doing now?

Other than a variety of secretarial and administrative jobs, the first job I consider to be part of my career path was working in internal communications for a division of BT that dealt with major IT projects. A lot of the skills I learnt there, such as communicating technical or complicated ideas in a simple way and using the web for communication, come in useful in my role now.

I am now in charge of Alumni Relations for the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.  Informatics is often referred to as ‘computer science on steroids’ so is an extremely technical field.

Could you briefly describe what career route you took to get where you are now? Was it a linear progression? Did you change careers or sectors? Did you retrain?

During my time at BT I moved from internal communications to marketing and communications. While there I undertook the CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing, which has proven to be very useful in Alumni Relations (which is after all, a form of marketing).

My main career path change here involved moving from the private to the public sector. However, many of the skills I developed at BT have served me well in my role at the University. Much of my training and development since working in Alumni Relations has been self taught, in the area of social media communication. While there are training courses available for this field, I found that ‘playing around’ with the tools was the best training there was.

What drives and motivates you as a person?

I enjoy working with other people and having a varied job. When I get positive feedback from alumni on my communications and events I feel especially motivated.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the fact that there is always something new to learn or discover. Using social media for alumni relations is a new field and it is exciting to be working at the forefront of it. However, I also really enjoy the face to face aspect of the role – meeting alumni in the flesh is great, and finding out what makes them tick and how they relate to their time at University is fascinating.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

The fact that, even though I am relatively new to the area of using social media for alumni relations, there is really no one else in my office who has more experience with it and who can offer support and advice. While it is sometimes exhilarating to be at the cutting edge of a particular area it can also be quite daunting at times.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your profession what would it be?

I’d ensure there was more overall institutional support for alumni relations, as alumni are the University’s best selling tool across the globe. All alumni have the capacity to be great ambassadors and give something back, even if it is not financial, so that should be more widely recognised – although this is improving all the time.

What would be your top three tips for someone considering a career in your profession?

If you want to get into alumni relations, learn all you can about social media by joining as many sites as you can and playing around with them. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things out (using a new social networking site, hosting a different type of event) – some may work and some may not but you won’t know until you try. Ask your audience what they want, but take their answers with a pinch of salt – what they think they want and what they actually want aren’t always the same, but being asked will make them feel included and important.


Posts like this one from Mark Phillips have me worried.

I work in the higher education sector, in a successful Development Office which has been established for over three decades.  Development Offices like mine are really good at major gifts.  We look after and respect our donors.  We have an annual fund which is steadily improving and our legacy programme alone brings in an average of £2 million every year.

Major charities seem to be losing donors, whilst philanthropic income to the UK higher education is increasing.

So HE fundraisers have nothing to worry about, right?

Well maybe.

Five years ago I was a major gifts fundraising in the voluntary sector.  As a fundraiser in the voluntary sector, I was aware of constant innovation.  SMS – can we use it? Will it make money?  Can we engage more people?  Have chuggers had their day?  What’s the next thing?  How can we trial it?  How can we combine fundraising with campaigning?  How can we carry the message?  Is our brand consistent?

There was considerable focus on donor acquisition and retention, with direct marketing and membership remaining the backbone of my charity’s income.  On a quick mental count, I would say that in 2006 my charity – a medium sized operation with a philanthropic income of over £12 million -had a minimum of twelve different types of fundraising/income generation in the fundraising mix.

In contrast, my current university has a similar philanthropic income, but a maximum of seven different income streams (trust, corporate, major gifts, reunion/event fundraising, legacies, annual fund).  Instead of looking at the distant horizons of fundraising innovation, we focus on getting better at what we do best and operating at our optimum level.

Recent experience has shown me that innovation is happening in UK Higher Education Advancement circles, but is seems to be primarily in the area of alumni relations.  One colleague’s focused programme of new media activity, combined with a strategic events programme is yielding significant results.  Alumni are flocking to join LinkedIn and engage in Second Life.  Participation in a virtual world is leading to participation in the physical realm.  Facebook makes is simple for new graduates to remain a part of their student society.  The programme is resulting in business angels for university spin outs, in the development of industry networks and mentoring programmes.  Datasets are enriched by alumni volunteering their details.

There is a challenge here, for higher education fundraisers to pick up the baton and build on what our colleagues are developing.

A survey of the voluntary sector by NFPSynergy tells us that in 2008:

16% of charities with a turnover of less than £1 million found web presence very beneficial for fundraising.  For charities with a turnover of £1-£10 million that figure increases to 24%.  For charities with a turnover of more than £10 million, that figure jumps to 45%.

What does this signify?

If nothing else, it suggests that the larger charities raising the most money seem to be making the most of their online opportunities.

As Mark’s post suggests, social media grows ever more powerful and influential.  We would be wise to pay attention to that fact.

As we continue in a recession and competition for the pound in our pockets becomes ever fiercer, the charity and the higher education sector may have much to learn from each other here.  If you are interested in another viewpoint on that from last year’s Times Higher Education Supplement makes for interesting reading.

MC


I have just come across the first in a series of four blog postings which make for interesting reading on the importance and growth of online giving.  The posts are by Todd Cohen for the Philanthropy Journal and appear on

best-make-money.com

Todd quotes some startling statistics to show that this is an area which fundraisers cannot afford to ignore.  In 1999, $10million was donated online in 2009 this had risen to $15.48billion despite only accounting for 5% of overall giving.

Jonathan Jones blogging in today’s Guardian newspaper opens up an interesting debate around the ethics of accepting corporate sponsorship and gifts. As BP gets a hammering in the press their sponsorship of the Tate comes under scrutiny.

KC, SSL

Posts like this one from Mark Phillips on Social Media in Numbers have me worried. To tantalise you with a few facts:

  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. 14% trust advertising.
  • 24 of the world’s largest 25 newspapers have declining circulations

I work in the higher education sector, in a successful Development Office which has been established for over two decades. We are really good at major gifts. We look after and respect our donors. We have an annual fund which is steadily improving and our legacy programme alone brings in an average of £2 million every year.

Major charities seem to be losing donors, whilst philanthropic income to the UK higher education is increasing.

So HE fundraisers have nothing to worry about, right?

Well maybe.

Five years ago I was a major gifts fundraising in the voluntary sector. As a fundraiser in the voluntary sector, I was aware of constant innovation. SMS – can we use it? Will it make money? Can we engage more people? Have chuggers had their day? What’s the next thing? How can we trial it? How can we combine fundraising with campaigning? How can we carry the message? Is our brand consistent?

There was considerable focus on donor acquisition and retention, with direct marketing and membership remaining the backbone of my charity’s income. On a quick mental count, I would say that in 2006 my charity – a medium sized operation with a philanthropic income of over £12 million -had a minimum of twelve different types of fundraising/income generation in the fundraising mix.

In contrast, my current university has a similar philanthropic income, but a maximum of seven different income streams (trust, corporate, major gifts, reunion/event fundraising, legacies, annual fund). Instead of looking at the distant horizons of fundraising innovation, we focus on getting better at what we do best and operating at our optimum level.

Recent experience has shown me that innovation is happening in UK Higher Education Advancement circles, but is seems to be primarily in the area of alumni relations. One colleague’s focused programme of new media activity, combined with a strategic events programme is yielding significant results. Alumni are flocking to join LinkedIn and engage in Second Life. Participation in a virtual world is leading to participation in the physical realm. Facebook makes is simple for new graduates to remain a part of their student society. The programme is resulting in business angels for university spin outs, in the development of industry networks and mentoring programmes. Datasets are enriched by alumni volunteering their details.

There is a challenge here, for higher education fundraisers to pick up the baton and build on what our colleagues are developing.

A survey of the voluntary sector by NFPSynergy tells us that in 2008, the following numbers of charities described web presence as very beneficial for fundraising:

  • 16% of charities with a turnover of less than £1 million
  • 24% of charities with a turnover of £1-£10 million
  • 45% of charities with a turnover of more than £10 million (averaging over £37 million per annum)

What does this signify?

If nothing else, it suggests that the larger charities raising the most money seem to be making the most of their online opportunities.

As Mark’s post suggests, social media grows ever more powerful and influential. We would be wise to pay attention to that fact.

As we continue in a recession and competition for the pound in our pockets becomes ever fiercer, the charity and the higher education sector may have much to learn from each other here.

If you are interested exploring this area further, check out this article from last year’s Times Higher Education Supplement and a fascinating report from Nonprofitnext on Five Key Trends that Will Shape the Sector (US based), brought to you care of The Agitator blog.

MCM

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