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Outreach to International Alumni: The Opportunities You May Be Missing


When we asked advancement professionals in a recent, informal 7 Second Survey to note their most effective tactic for outreach to international alumni:

  • 28% found alumni chapters and clubs most effective.
  • 23% found university events most effective.
  • Curiously, less than 5% were relying most on alumni volunteer opportunities that connect alumni with student recruitment.
  • 37%, well over a third, indicated that they currently do not engage alumni who are living abroad.

As institutions attract a greater number of international students, host more international visits and projects, and as careers become increasingly global, it is vital to meaningfully connect with alumni living abroad and to leverage their time, talent, and treasure effectively.

To learn more, we turned to Gretchen Dobson of Gretchen Dobson Consulting, LLC (and formerly of Tufts University) to share with us some of the less obvious but fruitful opportunities for outreach to international alumni. She was gracious enough to let us record the conversation in a 7-minute podcast -- see below.

"Above all, Inform international alumni of opportunities to become active in the life of the university or college. What they are going to see is their impact, and they will be giving back."

Gretchen Dobson, Gretchen Dobson Consulting, LLC

The podcast includes these 4 ideas for cultivating international alumni to help expand your global footprint:

  • See your international alumni as "brand ambassadors" and partner with them in recruiting international students.
  • Invite international alumni to help you build international partnerships for teaching, alternate delivery of education, and identification of experts in the home country who can present and teach.
  • Involve international alumni in capital campaigns, especially those with global tours.
  • Partner with international alumni to provide internships, opportunities to list jobs, and offer management training sessions through the career services office.

For a more in-depth look, review Dobson's lessons learned from her efforts at Tufts University in our March 2012 article "Engaging International Alumni."

Logistics and Cost Effectiveness

Want to review the logistics of how to get a concentrated effort at international alumni outreach going?

Join Academic Impressions and Gretchen Dobson in a February 12, 2014 online training to learn the fundamentals of international alumni engagement:

  • Supporting an international alumni program
  • Understanding different social and philanthropic cultures
  • Developing global alumni events
  • Determining who you can engage in volunteer opportunities
  • Measuring the success of your efforts

Learn more here.

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About the Authors

Daniel Fusch, Director of Publications & Research

Daniel provides strategic direction and content for AI’s electronic publication Higher Ed Impact, including market research and interviews with leading subject matter experts on critical issues. Since the publication’s launch in 2009, Daniel has written or edited more than 500 articles on strategic issues ranging from student recruitment and retention to development and capital planning. If you have a question or a comment about this article, feel free to contact Daniel at