Alumni participation rates are going down nationwide. Fewer and fewer graduates are giving back to their alma maters each year … except at Oklahoma Christian.
In 2012-2013, Eagles bucked the trend through Homeward. A record-shattering 1,479 grad givers grew OC’s alumni participation base by more than 500 and rocketed Oklahoma Christian past the national average.
This success presented a tough question for 2013-2014: “Could the Homeward lightning strike twice?”
“A major hurdle with alumni participation is that it zeroes out each June,” Director of Advancement Operations Will Blanchard said. “To stay on the leading edge of the important U.S. News rankings in this area, our graduates need to give every year. We needed to find a way to thank and celebrate our grads for their incredible outpouring in Homeward’s first year, but also excite them about breaking a whole new record. That’s a difficult message to send without coming across as disingenuous.”
OC’s marketing, alumni, and advancement teams decided to say “thank you” with free t-shirts for all interested grads. Responding to the tagline, “Your maroon and gray are showing,” more than 2,380 Eagles ordered free OC tees.
The #OCHomeward hashtag launched on Instagram, and a video of Dr. Stafford North and Dr. Bailey McBride taking “selfies” in their new tees went viral.
This spring brought the inaugural Homeward Pride social service club competition. Sponsored by OC donors, Homeward Pride encouraged students to get involved by challenging them to raise participation among their club’s alumni.
Each club earned $500 for adding 50 new grad givers between February and April. As an added incentive, the club with the highest participation rate at the competition’s end received a trophy, bragging rights and another $500.
Clubs selected their own fundraising projects, which included a mission trip to Tipton Children’s Home, international missions, welcome kits for international students, scholarship funding, OC’s Student Success Center, and more. In just two months, club alumni added more than 900 grad givers for Homeward and gave $24,470 toward their club’s designated projects. Only 940 grads gave all year in 2011-2012.
The winning club, Delta Gamma Sigma, raised more than $8,000 and posted an astounding 55.2% participation rate, meaning more than half of all Delta grads gave to OC projects this year.
“The response is mind-boggling,” Vice President for Advancement Kent Allen said. “It’s obvious we haven’t done enough before to tap into the positive pride and the competitive spirit of our alumni. Their love for this special place and for our students continues to floor me, even as I nod and think, ‘I shouldn’t be surprised.’”
A record 2,278 graduates gave to OC projects through Homeward in 2013-2014. That number more than doubles (137%) the number of grads who gave in 2011-2012, the year before Homeward launched.
OC’s alumni participation rate pushed past 19%, more than eight percentage points above the national average for schools of our type.
“What we’re doing is unprecedented,” Blanchard said. “But our maroon and gray run deep, our spirit for giving and doing is unsurpassed, and I think we’d all agree: Eagles were made to do the unprecedented.”
HOMEWARD PRIDE RESULTS
1. Delta Gamma Sigma (55.2%)
2. Chi Lambda Phi (54.3%)
3. Alpha Gamma Omega (34.7%)
4. Iota Kappa Phi (34.4%)
5. Psi Epsilon (29.4%)
6. Theta Theta Theta (29.1%)
7. Gamma Rho (26.1%)
8. Lambda Chi Zeta (26.0%)
9. Omega Psi Omicron (25.9%)
10. Pi Zeta Phi (22.6%)
11. Kappa Sigma Tau (21.7%)