CoolData blog

17 October 2011

À la recherche du alumni engagement perdu

Filed under: Alumni, Why predictive modeling? — Tags: — kevinmacdonell @ 8:56 am

Have you read any Proust? His voluminous novel contains many unsentimental thoughts about friendship and love. Among them is the idea that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.

The constituents in your database who are not engaged are not the ones who write nasty letters. They’re not the ones who give you a big thumbs-down on your survey. They’re not the ones who criticize the food at your gala dinner. They’re not the ones who tell your phone campaign callers never to call again.

Nope. Your non-engaged constituents are the ones you never hear from. The ones who chuck out your mailings unopened. The ones who ignore the invitation to participate in a survey. The ones who have never attended an event. The ones who never answer the phone.

If your school or organization is typical, a good-sized portion of your database falls into this category. There’s money in identifying who is truly not engaged, and therefore not worth wasting resources on.

The ones who are moved to criticize you, the ones who have opinions about you, the ones who want to be contacted only a certain way — ah, they’re different.

The future belongs to those who can tell the difference.



  1. Now that’s something great to sink your teeth into on a Monday morning, I like it!

    Comment by Sue Morin — 17 October 2011 @ 9:02 am

  2. Thanks Kevin. I have long believed that it’s a positive thing when someone complains. First, it shows that they still care enough to register an opinion. Second, by engaging with you, they are providing you with an opening to change their views and win them over. That vast middle group who neither praise nor criticize are the source for future engagement, if only you can stir them to respond to something….

    Comment by Andy Shaindlin — 17 October 2011 @ 9:09 am

  3. Kevin- we couldn’t agree more. We conducted a national study on donor motivation because we believe that just because someone has the ability to give does not make them a candidate to engage with if they are not motivated to give! A big problem in communicating with alumni/donors is not only have we not asked about preferred method of communication but we haven’t asked about what is important to them as donors. I like this post a great deal.
    Ann Oleson

    Comment by annoleson — 18 October 2011 @ 11:52 am

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