The relationship between institutionally affiliated foundations and alumni associations, like many other campus auxiliaries, is complex. Understanding whether and how the two entities collaborate and support the fundraising goals of the institution was the primary focus of this short survey – a timely topic as many colleges and universities seek to enhance their development capacity. While full results will appear in a white paper later this year, a few key takeaways from the survey are highlighted below.
Reporting Relationship between Foundations and Alumni Associations
Almost half (48 percent) of the responding foundation chief executives indicated that their institution’s alumni association is an independent entity from the institution’s foundation. In contrast, nearly one quarter (22 percent) reported that their alumni association is co-dependent on the foundation and the institution. The reporting relationship between alumni association leadership and that of the institution and foundation is also complex. According to most foundation CEOs (54 percent), the senior leader of their institution’s alumni association reports to the development/advancement office. Only 14 percent report to the foundation.
Many foundations report that they have, are in the process, or are considering making significant changes to the relationship between the foundation and alumni association. Most notable is the growth in collaboration. Approximately three-quarters (75 percent) of foundation CEOs report that foundation staff and alumni association staff have or are currently collaborating more closely than in the past. Another 18 percent indicated that they would like to make such a change in the future but have not done so yet. While most CEOs (65 percent) report that the governance structure of the alumni association has not changed, nearly 20 percent reported that the governance structure has or is changing so that the foundation now has more authority and oversight over the alumni association. Approximately 16 percent would like to make this change in the future.