Student for a short time. Gamecock for a lifetime. Forever to thee!
My Carolina exists to add value to students, engage our alumni, and build the brand of the University of South Carolina.
As My Carolina Alumni Association seeks to build a 21st century alumni engagement organization, the Board of Governors has spent nearly a year researching industry practices, studying consumer behaviors, understanding the broader marketplace and evaluating both new and existing approaches to alumni engagement that are suited for the culture of our Alma Mater and her alumni in this era.
With more than 300,000 living alumni, the University of South Carolina is graduating more Gamecocks than ever before. In order to best meet the needs of this diverse, global population of alumni, the Board of Governors of My Carolina has developed four overarching goals: 1) Add Value to Students, 2) Engage Alumni, 3) Build the Brand of the University and the Alumni Association and 4) Grow the Alumni Center Hospitality Business.
A positive student experience is the foundation of a strong alumni connection. By adding value and creating relationships with students during the undergraduate career, My Carolina can position itself as an invaluable resource to students seeking to successfully launch post-graduation. My Carolina can leverage both student support and alumni engagement by creating opportunities for students to connect with alumni for internships, mentoring and career support. Collaboration with campus partners including Schools and Colleges will enable the alumni association to impact a larger student population, while providing resources to under-funded campus entities.
Walking beside our newest graduates as they pass from student to alumni will be a cornerstone of the Association’s approach to engaging and retaining former students as active alumni of Carolina. Understanding the needs of this growing population and meeting those needs conveniently and effectively is paramount to the success of this approach. This increasing proportion of alumni who represent the millennial generation within our alumni base has distinctly different consumer behaviors, interests and priorities than previous generations. My Carolina’s programming, menu of services, and even our means of communication must evolve in order to remain relevant in the lives of our students and alumni.
The geographic footprint of our alumni is changing as well. In order to maximize My Carolina staff and resources, the alumni association will prioritize strategic market penetration within Six Cities: Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, D.C. This strategy will include the expansion of My Carolina’s affinity groups (Black Alumni Council, Veterans Alumni Council and Young Alumni Council) into the Six Cities, as well as restructuring alumni club volunteer leadership. Additionally, in a marketplace where individuals increasingly rely on technology to connect with the world around them, My Carolina must invest in platforms that allow for global access to our University, our Association and the alumni family.
From prospective students to our most seasoned alumni, meeting each audience with a focused message in the time and place that is helpful to each population is the core of the third goal of this plan. An omni-channel approach that fits message to audience in a way that is strategic in both timing and delivery will be the goal for growing and improving how My Carolina communicates with and mobilizes alumni in support of the university and the alumni community. From student recruitment to alumni advocacy, from social media to The Carolinian alumni magazine, thoughtful messaging aligned for audiences within each communications channel will help increase alumni engagement and support the success of the Association’s business plan.
Although a separate business, the Alumni Center’s continued success is now an integrated priority of My Carolina Alumni Association. Developing a sales and management strategy for the facility that ensures a world-class customer experience is essential to the long-term success of the facility. By focusing on the customer experience, the Association can grow the Center’s business and create an attractive opportunity for both individual and corporate philanthropy in support of both the Center and the Association.
This plan represents the first year of a long-term approach designed to connect with students, engage alumni, promote the Association and institution, and grow our hospitality business. Each step in this plan is leading the Association toward a purposeful and measurable approach to improving service to our alumni and our alma mater while increasing our accountability to our membership. On behalf of the Strategic Planning Committee of our Board of Governors, I am excited to share this plan with you and on behalf of the Board, personally invite you to find places within these strategies where you can use your gifts, talents and interests in service to the University of South Carolina.
Forever to Thee,
Elizabeth Muth, `05
Chief Operating Officer