Many Augsburg graduates stay connected with the college through the years. They come to events or games on campus. They volunteer. They donate to The Augsburg Fund.
But there are others who kind of drift away. It isn’t like they become anti-Augsburg, they just aren’t connected. That’s something the college—thanks to a nearly $230,000 grant from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation—hopes to change over the next three years through Project IGNITE.
The project is being done in a very Augsburg kind of way—with direct personal interaction. Project IGNITE, which stands for Involving Graduates Now In Thoughtful Engagement, won’t use traditional communication methods. There won’t be a mass mailing to Auggie alumni. There won’t be students making phone call after phone call. Instead, this program will feature face-to-face interaction.
Over the next year, Augsburg students will conduct discovery visits with more than 500 non-involved alumni to ask them about their views on Augsburg, their philanthropic priorities, and their interest in volunteer opportunities with Augsburg. Over the next three years, the hope is that more than 1,600 alumni will receive visits.
“For a college, our alumni are a strategic advantage and if you don’t use that, you’re missing an opportunity,” Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow (pictured at left with Denise Aasen, Manager of Lutheran Relationships at Thrivent) said. “This gives us an opportunity to link current students and recent grads with alumni of all ages. Your current students and recent graduates are often your best spokespeople for what’s really happening.”
Most visits will be with alumni living in and around the Twin Cities metropolitan area. After each visit, the College will create a customized cultivation plan that includes on-campus volunteer opportunities and annual campaign solicitations focusing on their interests.
Student representatives will be hired this month by the Alumni and Constituent Relations Office and a list of alumni to visit in 2009 is in the development stage. By the beginning of March, students will be trained and visits will be underway.
Alex Gonzalez, a senior financial advisor for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a member of the Augsburg College Board of Regents and a graduate of the college, said the grant is part of the mission for the not-for-profit organization.
“Our goal is to help grow Lutheran communities and Lutheran institutions,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not just the money, these dollars will help grow engagement. It will help get alumni engaged into giving to the school.”
The grant is part of the foundation’s Lutheran Grant Program. This program is designed to help Lutheran institutions and organizations take advantage of unique growth and service opportunities. It also supports the interests and needs of the Lutheran community. In 2007, the program distributed approximately $5 million through 100 separate grants.
In addition to simply helping Augsburg, Thrivent is interested in Project IGNITE because of its potential to serve as a model program for other ELCA colleges. Students who are interested in serving with Project IGNITE should contact Kim Stone in the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations at 612-330-1173.