UHAA Five-Year Strategic Plan
2019 – 2024
STRATEGIC PLAN IMPERATIVE
Our strategic imperative is simple – increase alumni engagement. This includes the various ways alumni can be involved with their alma mater. We will measure this engagement and the success of our endeavors through various metrics, noted in the details of each strategy.
Three main strategies provide our roadmap to increased and deeper alumni engagement.
Capture and report all the ways alumni are engaged with UHAA and University of Houston.
Market and brand UHAA programs and services to communicate our many engagement opportunities.
Expand our currently available programs and services to alumni in Houston, the U.S. and across the globe.
New Definition of Alumni Engagement (new scorecard):
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has recently developed four main definitions that will soon be adopted as a national benchmark. This holistic view to count all the ways alumni engage with their schools counts everything in four main categories:
- Volunteer (V)
- Experiential (E)
- Communications (C)
- Philanthropy (P)
This new measurement looks much further than only alumni giving as a measure of alumni satisfaction. By using the four main engagement categories measured against multiple alumni segments (undergraduate, graduate, former students, etc.), CASE hopes to establish new national standards for all university alumni groups to more accurately measure themselves against peer institutions.
SAMPLE ENGAGEMENTS FOR EACH CATEGORY:
- Advisory Board
- Non-Board support
- Classroom speakers
- Career development
- Annual meetings
- Legislative advocacy
- Volunteer fundraisers
- Student recruitment
- Social Media bloggers
- UHAA events
- Party on the Plaza
- Alumni Travel
- Awards & recognition
- Athletic events
- Networking events
- Ring blessings & ceremonies
- Class notes
- Social engagements
- Form submissions
- Emails from alumni
- Alumni app users
- Alumni card request
- Campaign giving
- Planned gifts
- Life Membership
- Cougar Pride donations
- Legacy scholarships
An engaged alumni base relies on our ability to maintain communication with alumni currently in our database and finding those alumni who have simply lost contact with UH for whatever reason. Some alumni groups are highly engaged like Life Members, Constituent Groups and recent graduates. Engagement can also come from targeted prospect groups like young alumni, former students and current students. We also have the opportunity to introduce UHAA to all alumni through the use of our Alumni Center and expanding the distribution of various marketing and communications such as Annual Alumni Reports, the Alumline Magazine, monthly “Happenings” e-newsletters, alumni surveys, social media, advertising campaigns and other communications. Alumni awards in recognition offer a great way to introduce UHAA to our alumni. For example the Alumni Awards Gala (now in its 66th year) and Cougar100 (now in its 6th year) continue to recognize outstanding alumni and their contributions to the University of Houston.
- Constituent Associations
Our goal is to provide more opportunities for alumni to become engaged based on their interests and affinity. College-based alumni associations, regional alumni associations and special interest groups offer many entry points for alumni. The University of Houston alumni network has never been stronger with 41 different alumni constituent associations. Our stretch goal is to grow that number to 60 in the next five years. New groups can be formed in markets where we have high concentration of Cougar Alumni, newly identified special interest groups and adding some college-based associations that do not currently exist. Our constituent associations also provide an opportunity for volunteer development where we find future leaders to serve on UHAAF Board as Directors.
New constituent associations planned for the next five years include Honors College, College of the Arts, soon to open College of Medicine, Rio Grande Valley, Katy, San Francisco, San Antonio, Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle. There is a small start-up cost for each group, averaging $500-$1,000, but once started, associations become self-funded.
The launch of the Young Alumni program opens up many ways for recent graduates (10 years from graduation) and young alumni (under the age of 35) to stay connected to UH. Currently, more than 53,000 alumni qualify as a Young Alumni. By creating this platform, we can create mentoring opportunities, career development and a connection with our Cougar 100 and other Cougar-led or owned business alumni. Young alumni are active event attendees, are heavily engaged socially and tend to share their experiences with others. With discounted Life Member program and other exclusive discounts and offers, young alumni will have many reasons to stay connected to UH and eventually give back in time, talent and resources.
Key metric- Increasing the number of groups to 45 and increasing the volunteer participation within each group as measured by event and meeting attendees and other types of engagement.
- Awards and Recognition
Our goal is to advance and strengthen ongoing alumni award and recognition events. The Annual Alumni Awards is still going strong, recognizing exemplary volunteers and our highest achieving alumni with Distinguished Alumni to Rising Star, Chair’s Award & Faculty Award. Several alumni constituent groups also hold their own awards programs. The Cougar 100 luncheon, now in its 6th year draws more than 600 attendees annually. In addition to recognizing our outstanding alumni, we also recognize deserving students with Senior 27 awards, the Rodeo Scholars lunch and the awarding of our Legacy Scholarships and constituent group scholarships.
Key metric- Increasing attendance at signature events like Distinguished Alumni Awards, Cougar 100 and UHAA Golf Tournament.
- Career Development and Networking
Our goal is to create more opportunities for alumni to connect with each other and provide career services to those looking for employment support. The Cougar 100 spotlights fastest growing Cougar owned or led businesses and creates a strong network. In turn, they support “give-back” opportunities like career fairs, internships, mentoring, knowledge-sharing and networking. The launch of a business-to-business directory will offer a great resource for Cougars to do business with other Cougars. Those alumni will have the opportunity to mentor and share their expertise with students and young alumni on life skills, financial literacy and other empowering topics.
Key metric- Increasing Cougar 100 nominations, identification of Cougar-owned or led companies, participation in volunteer opportunities.
- Philanthropic Opportunities & Corporate Partnerships
Being a UH Life Member is an active commitment to the University and its past, present and future students. Life Members are pillars of the UH family whose dedication, combined with their generous annual support, continues to build a stronger University and a resounding declaration of Cougar pride. Life Members have accounted for 58% of all alumni giving in the last five years. We will continue to grow the Life Member program in the next five years by more than 350 new members each year and doubling the current Life Member Endowment.
The vision for the Life Member program over the next five years is a big one! While planning, there were many things to consider while deciding on the future plans of the program. Essentially the Five-year strategic plan is broken down into four key components that go hand-in-hand to ensure the program continues to flourish.
- Membership growth is the most vital piece. UHAA has set membership goals for every year with the number steadily increasing year over year. These goals will help with accountability and show progress.
- The endowment growth is dependent on the increase of memberships. Memberships provide increased funding to the endowment which helps provide Legacy Scholarships to students of UH Alumni. Currently, the Life Member program is self-sustaining.
- Having compelling additional benefits for current and potential Life Members will help membership growth. These benefits will create additional value for members, creating increased excitement and a stronger word-of-mouth, encouraging those who are not Life Members to join.
- Stewardship of Life Members is very important. If kept engaged, they will share on social media and communicate this to fellow Coogs. With exclusive stewardship events held throughout the year, this will keep current Life Members engaged and give them exclusive access to special events.
Marketing of Life Member Program
The four components will be dependent on a strong marketing plan. Since the Life Member program rolled out in 2014, it has started to take off. Awareness of the program is crucial in growth. UHAA will need to stay current with trends to ensure they’re properly reaching the correct audiences. The brand will be marketed to alumni, students and recent graduates. Marketing efforts will include Google, social media, and various sponsorships on campus. This will also increase brand awareness.
UHAA programs and services are made possible, in part, by the support of our corporate partners and sponsors. Additionally, through a number of partners, UHAA is able to provide valuable benefits and services to alumni and all members of the Cougar family. Through their generous support, revenue generated allows UHAA to operate with remaining revenue flowing back to UH.
Key metric- Growing the Life Member program to over 10,000 Life Members by 2024 and doubling the Life Membership endowment.
UH Class Ring Program
Proceeds from the sale of class rings go to UHAA. This allows us to provide revenue to UH and to support UHAA programs. 1,400+ rings were sold in FY2018. With an attainable growth rate of 11% over the next five years, our goal is to achieve 2,000+ rings sold, generating more than $250,000 in revenue.
Key metric- UH Class Ring revenue exceeding $250,000 per year by 2024 .
- Student Programming
Our goal is to unite student and alumni programming and provide new offerings to enhance the Cougar experience. UHAA has increased its presence at Cub Camp, Family Weekend and Homecoming, providing a home base for alumni attendees. Some new programs will be partnerships with colleges around graduation, a Cougar 100 Career Fair, and the “Coog Cab” experience. As UHAA, we want to connect early on with the student experience and build relationships before they step foot on campus. We hope that this awareness of UHAA will encourage students to participate in all our alumni programs and become active alumni. Overall, UHAA has become a greater and more recognizable presence in UH programming, and we’ve only just begun.
Key metric- Continue to provide programming to students and opportunities to introduce them to UHAA in the hopes they become actively engaged alumni.
- Support Athletics
Our goal is to organize new and improved events at UH Athletics home games, as well as road events for expanded national constituencies. Party on the Plaza turns every home football game into a mini-reunion. Watch parties for games continue across the country, and our road events turn rival stadiums to COOGS HOUSE. And now, every basketball game is played in style at our new Fertitta Center. UHAA also provides travel opportunities for our alumni to cheer on the teams at bowl games, NCAA tournaments and other national competitions.
Key metric- Continue to grow current athletic support programs and implement additional opportunities for alumni and constituent associations become more aware and involved with UH Athletics events.
- Traditions and engagement
No matter the location, background, interests or UH major, UHAA has a way for all alumni to get involved with their alma mater. By keeping UH traditions alive, alumni will always have a reason and an invitation to stay connected. Alumni have many ways to participate in the UH conversation whether on social platforms, alumni engagement apps or various communication pieces. We ask them to keep us updated on life events with Class Notes and solicit their opinions in alumni surveys. UHAAF also empowers Alumni to politically advocate on behalf of the university.
Key metric- Identify opportunities to keep UH traditions alive. UHAA will continue to partner with UH, student organizations, constituent associations and alumni to identify new and meaningful ways to demonstrate our traditions.