Stanford Social Innovation Review: Rethinking Alumni Programs for Greater Impact

By Curt Ellis & Stuart Davidson, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Most academic programs and fellowships are designed with an emphasis on the experience and learning that participants will gain during their active enrollment. Yet this limited scope ignores an important reality: It’s after students leave campus that an education does its work.

The same is true in the social sector. As leadership accelerators like Echoing Green and national service programs like AmeriCorps proliferate, nonprofits focused on developing human capital need to recognize that if we approach alumni strategy as an afterthought, we will leave some of our greatest potential for impact unfulfilled.

Based on our experience at FoodCorps, the national service organization that brought us together as a funder (Davidson) and social entrepreneur (Ellis), here’s a look at the five common weaknesses built into many alumni programs and what the organizations running them can do better.