Contacting alumni: a guide for staff
The Department of Development & Alumni Relations can help you contact alumni to support various projects.
This guide outlines best practice when contacting alumni.
The Department of Development & Alumni Relations holds contact details for 80% of the University’s alumni and we are able to contact more than half of them by email.
If you would like to contact alumni on behalf of your department, to publicise a course, to help foster a partnership between the University and industry, to gain feedback and opinion, or for any other reason, we can help you.
The records we hold of alumni are subject to the Data Protection Act. Whilst we can share information within the University, we prefer to contact alumni on your behalf for a number of reasons:
- To ensure the confidential use of data
- To keep a record of all contact made with any particular alumnus
- To keep any updated contact information on our central database
- To coordinate any mass communications (combine any emails sent to the same group, and ensure any section of alumni are not receiving too many emails)
- To ensure any email sent is as directly targeted as possible – we are wary of ‘spamming’ our alumni and want to keep e-communications opt-outs to a minimum
What you need to do
Decide who you want to communicate with
Complete our contact request form, including providing the email text, if necessary. This tells us what you wish to do and what you hope to achieve as a result of the communication. It also ensures we are provided with all the necessary information to send the communication, as well as enabling us to schedule this effectively into our other communications.
Please send any other questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing the email
Explain what you would like the alumnus to do clearly; if you are asking for help, eg a speaker for current students, make this clear in the first paragraph of the email
Only include necessary information (a reader will switch off if it’s not immediately clear what is wanted of them)
Extra information can be linked to for a reader to click through to if they are interested. Whilst our emailing software does not allow attachments, we are able to upload PDFs, word documents or excel files for readers to download (please ensure any content is up-to-date)
Add an informative subject line - we have found from looking at our open rates that the more specific and targeted the email subject is, the more likely an alum is to read it e.g: Bath graduates: help needed from recent Pharmacy graduates
Who is the email going to?
A group/segment of alumni – please provide details (eg BSc Physics postgraduate alumni from 2005 to 2011)
Particular details – please provide a list
Please make sure your criteria narrows down the audience to those who are most likely to be interested in the email you are sending. Once an alumnus unsubscribes from our communications, which is usually a result of too frequent, irrelevant emails, we lose them!
If it is only a select few individuals that you wish to contact, perhaps those who work for a particular company, please consider whether a phone call would achieve your aims.
What to expect from us
We ask for a minimum two weeks between agreeing the request and the email send date
We will run a query of our records and let you know how many alumni we are able to contact by email
Once we have received the request form submission, we may edit the text to fit in with the guidelines above, and possibly add a line explaining why they have been sent this email and encouraging alumni to update their details if it is no longer relevant
Replies will come into the Alumni Relations inbox, which we will then forward. This is to ensure that we receive any updates
Your direct email will also be included so that alumni may reply directly if they wish
We will send you a draft of the completed email for sign-off before sending the final copy when it fits in with our communications schedule
What we expect from you
Please be patient. We get many requests to contact alumni and have to schedule this carefully into our own communications
Provide feedback. Let us know whether the communication was successful and the response you received from alumni
If an event invite was sent please return an attendee list to the Department of Development & Alumni Relations so that we can retain this information for engagement records