We know that Columbia alumni are smart, opinionated, and care about their Alma Mater. In August 2015 we asked alumni to be all of those these as a volunteer for the CAA, and take a survey once a month. With 3,000 members, the Alumni Voices survey panel was launched.
Here's a snapshot of Alumni Voices members, from a 22 year-old new graduate to a gentleman who received his bachelors in 1949.
Here's a little more about why we chose a survey panel as a way to hear back from Columbia alumni:
A panel is a list of people who have signed up to complete on- or off-line surveys. Done correctly, responses tend to be as statistically valid as if polling the entire population, since the recruitment is designed to capture a representative sample. The Alumni Voices panel proportionally represents alumni across all of the University's schools.
- Hear Columbia alumni more clearly and regularly on any number of issues, from what they want from their Alma Mater to what they think about issues today.
- Create a new volunteer opportunity and way for alumni to participate in the life of the University, no matter where they are or what they're involved in.
- Meet the increasing need for feedback and insight in a nimble and economic way
- Prevent overload of communications or ‘asks’ for alumni attention (and consequent decrease in responsiveness)
- Test ideas early and often, allowing initiatives to have greater chance of success
- Enable staff or volunteer leadership to be able to make informed decisions and confirm or correct assumptions before investing in initiatives
- We invited all Columbia alumni to become panel volunteers in an open enrollment period of about 3 weeks
- Members completed brief profiles, which allows segmenting in future polling or creating follow-up focus groups, in addition to letting us know more about them
- We use the panel tool (Target Audience) within our existing survey tool of choice
- The Project Coordinator for the CAA Marketing and Digital Initiatives unit works closely with the Office of Alumni and Development's Director of Market Research to create survey language and structure informed by research best practices
What have we learned so far?
In August we kicked off Alumni Voices with a survey about a new online community coming soon to all Columbia alumni. We looked to alumni to help inform aspects of that new online space and your voices this month helped shape the name, designs, and features that resonated most. Stay tuned later this year when the Columbia Alumni Community makes its debut!
In September we asked about alumni interests and the role Columbia plays in those areas. As a result of feedback, in the upcoming year, the CAA is exploring establishing a place for Columbia alumni to share their expertise with one another, as well as creating new content based on the topics that interest you the most.
In October we asked Alumni Voices panelists to tell us how they feel about Columbia Magazine, the quarterly publication sent to all Columbia University alumni worldwide. Your feedback is giving the editors key insights into the existing readership and the content you want covered, including more news about research happening at Columbia today, along with analysis of current issues and events by Columbia experts/leaders in the field.
In November we asked Alumni Voices to share their thoughts on the Columbia Club of New York located in Midtown Manhattan and the types of amenities and services they'd be likely to use as members. The feedback will be crucial in determining how to best serve alumni needs and how to engage both current and new members.
For more on this alumni survey panel, including recent surveys, what we've learned, and how this group is making a difference and shaping their alumni community, visit alumni.columbia.edu/alumnivoices.