Creating Community

Creating Community During a Pandemic

The second episode of Profound Insights, Realtime Pivot – Connecting the Dots for Multi-Faceted, Engaging Virtual Events at Scale presented a compelling case study on how the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo employed the Profound Impact platform to significantly increase interaction between the faculty and alumni, students and partners – all in the midst of a global pandemic.

The Faculty of Mathematics had developed key goals for engaging with alumni in 2020:
• Build a sense of community and connection amongst global alumni, faculty, students, and partners;
• Regain lost alumni;
• Build a community of support and encouragement among female-identifying alumni, current/future students, faculty and researchers.

Two strategic initiatives were planned to achieve those goals:

Waterloo Math Digital Community, with a planned launch date of September 14, 2020

WWIN – the Waterloo Women’s Impact Network, with a planned launch date of May 12, 2020.

In March, 2020, COVID-19 hit the world and the Faculty of Mathematics pivoted to achieve those goals by working with Profound Impact.

In the space of two weeks, the planned Waterloo-local launch activities scheduled for the May launch of WWIN was transformed to a day-long online event hosted on the beta version of the Waterloo Math Digital Community platform. This allowed for an expanded program to include speakers and attendees from around the world and hundreds of users engaging in a real-time trial of the platform.

Instead of attracting the anticipated 100 attendees for a locally-based, in-person WWIN event, use of the Waterloo Math Digital Community allowed over 400 alumni from around the world to participate in the day’s activities, with fewer than 1% experiencing technical issues with the platform.

This inaugural use of the Waterloo Math Digital Community allowed UW Math to understand how users were engaging and interacting with the system and provided feedback by 87% of respondents that they would be likely or very likely to use the platform over time to discover relationships and network with alumni, students, and faculty members.

The successful launch of WWIN in May inspired UW Math to employ the Waterloo Math Digital Community platform in June for a celebration of the Class of 2020. Adjustments were made and additional features were added based on the previous user experience. As a result, over 600 participants were able to safely celebrate their graduation in a year when all in-person convocations were cancelled.

UW Math has continued to successfully employ the Waterloo Math Digital Community to engage with alumni, faculty and partners with events on Profound Impact Day on September 14 and Black and Gold alumni day on September 26.

The community maintains engagement with global alumni through webinars and alumni events and has grown to include over 800 participants from around the world.

The Profound Impact platform has provided the Faculty of Mathematics with a branded hub for engagement with alumni from around the world, real time access to data and visualization maps, integration with YouTube/Twitter and Zoom, the ability to develop groups within the hub to build communities of interest and unparalleled privacy and security features. Most importantly, UW Math has created a global community of alumni who continue to engage with their alma mater and each other.

Webinar Monthly Recap

Episode 1 — Connecting Forward: Leveraging your Institution’s Strategic Objectives to Drive Alumni Engagement
Part One: November 24th, 2020
Part Two: December 15th, 2020

Profound Impact launched its new webinar series, Profound Insights, in November 2020 with a two-part case study on how Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is working to successfully align its alumni engagement strategy with the overall institutional strategic plan using the Profound Impact platform. Perimeter Institute is a leading centre for scientific research, training, and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics. Perimeter also trains the next generation of physicists through innovative programs and has a worldwide base of alumni and friends.  Perimeter Institute is working to strategically engage those alumni and to explore Profound Impact as an effective tool to help them measure the collective impact of alumni on physics research.  

The inaugural two episodes of Profound Insights featured participation by Perimeter Institute advancement, alumni and marketing staff and Profound Impact’s fundraising and alumni strategist, Barney Ellis-Perry. The Perimeter team worked with Barney through the process to draft goals and objectives with the institute’s Alumni Taskforce in order to align a new alumni and friends strategy with their overall strategic plan, to draft a strategy execution roadmap, and to map that roadmap against technology platforms.

Key to the success of Perimeter’s work was the institute’s use of Profound Impact’s Self-Assessment Tool, which enables organizations to evaluate and implement strategic drivers for constituent engagement.  Identification of those drivers, combined with follow-up work with Barney Ellis-Perry, resulted in a strategy implementation road map and timeline.  An integral element of that road map is use of the Profound Impact platform to engage with alumni and friends via targeted communications, connections and affinity groups, reunions, lifelong learning and events, and career support and mentoring.

Do your strategies for engaging with alumni align with your institution’s strategic plan?  Do you have an implementation plan in place to effectively communicate with your alumni and provide new ways of digital engagement?  You can access Profound Impact’s Self-Assessment tool at no charge and watch the two-part episode Connecting Forward: Leveraging your Institution’s Strategic Objectives to Drive Alumni Engagement.

And be sure to follow the Profound Insights webinar series for monthly episodes on topics of importance to academic, research and technology focused organizations.Webinar topics cover a wide range of subjects, all relating to practical tips and information about making connections with your stakeholders and facilitating engagement including proven methods to facilitate alumni and faculty engagement, how to share information while addressing privacy concerns, and success stories that show the impact of individuals and organizations on each other and on the world.  

Profound Insights webinars are offered monthly on the last Tuesday of the month at 12 noon EST.  Our next webinar on January 27th, 2021 will be a discussion and demonstration of how the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo is using the Profound Impact platform to strategically pivot from hosting in-person events to offering meaningful online experiences. Please join us for Realtime Pivot and Connecting the Dots for Multifaceted, Engaging Virtual Events at Scale: A University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics Case Study, featuring Candace Harrington, Director of Advancement, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo.