Case study

How the University of Notre Dame is
building a thriving alumni community

The university uses Hivebrite’s all-in-one community management platform to drive engagement and facilitate fundraising initiatives.

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University of Notre Dame

“Thanks to Hivebrite, we have futureproofed our alumni engagement strategy with ever-improving technology that scales with our goals”

Brandon Tabor / Associate Vice President, Development at the University of Notre Dame

About the University of Notre Dame

Founded in 1842, The University of Notre Dame is a distinguished research university offering undergraduate and graduate education guided by a catholic mission.


Beyond fostering educational achievements, the university seeks to create solidarity and concern for common good amongst its students. The university’s vibrant network of alumni, family and friends is a testament to this mission.

Visit the community

Life before Hivebrite

Before Hivebrite, the university used another alumni engagement platform for over ten years.

As time passed, the University of Notre Dame recognized that the platform’s performance issues, limitations with data management, and poor user experience were stifling its ability to drive community growth and engagement at scale.

Consequently, it sought a new platform to refresh and modernize its online presence for all stakeholders.

Choosing Hivebrite

The team’s first step in choosing a new partner was to detail all the platform requirements.

The principal requirements included:

  • A web presence
  • Comprehensive event management
  • Streamlined volunteer management
  • Donation tools and payment processing
  • Broadcast email capabilities
  • Excellent data integration
  • The ability to create news articles and forums
  • Dedicated spaces for all clubs, classes, and groups on the platform
  • An intuitive platform for its army of volunteers to use

Impressed by the potential of the platform, its ambitious product roadmap, and supportive team that actively listened to and acted on feedback, the alumni association chose Hivebrite to overhaul and renovate its alumni experience.

The alumni association didn’t wait for the platform to have precisely what it needed before going live. Thanks to the platform’s modular structure, the team began a rolling implementation progress while working in parallel with the Hivebrite team regarding new feature development.

Migration and implementation process

The team worked closely with Hivebrite’s dedicated Implementation Team to ensure a successful transition to the new platform.

The implementation was phased, starting with migrating the association’s 400 groups. Groups were migrated in cohorts based on the complexity of their structure. The alumni directory and alumni association website went live after.

All member records and data were seamlessly migrated to the new platform. Previously, login issues accounted for 50% of all support tickets. Since migrating to Hivebrite, it has been reduced to almost 0%. The signup and activation process for members was straightforward and streamlined—members received an email welcoming them to the new platform with a link to activate their membership.

Migrating to Hivebrite in a nutshell

  • Over 70,000 activated accounts
  • 10% activation rate
  • Migration completed within 8 months
  • Almost 400 sub-communities migrated

Managing vibrant sub-communities

The alumni association counts more than 400 clubs, classes, and groups. Each has its dedicated space within the platform.

The sub-communities are run by over 900 volunteer administrators, saving the core-team effort and time while increasing engagement and impact.

The alumni association has also created dedicated groups for existing and former board members. Members are automatically added or removed from the groups thanks to a custom membership field, adding yet another layer of increased efficiency.

Sharing news with the community

Both the global alumni community and individual groups can keep members up to date on university news, student achievements past and present, and more by uploading articles on the News Module.

News can easily be classified using a tagging system based on topics or keywords. All articles are searchable, ensuring visitors can easily find information on what they are looking for.

Members can comment and share articles to boost visibility and engagement. Articles can also be pulled into email campaigns in a couple of clicks.

A fresh look for a 50-year-old blog

Members of the class of ‘60 had created individual web pages on the alumni association’s old platform to share news, updates, and general musings.

All content was migrated to the Hivebrite platform, tagged, and made searchable—transforming the authors’ content into an engaging blog with increased reach and visibility.

Streamlined event management

The alumni association organizes all events through Hivebrite. With its old platform, the team was required to work with professional services to create registration forms for complex events—a process that took between two weeks and two months to complete.

Event organizers can now easily set up multi-day and multi-track events and offer attendees additional items beyond standard tickets. This, combined with advanced options to control ticket availability based on eligibility, date, and capacity limits, provides increased control and flexibility for managing and promoting events.

During the height of COVID, this flexibility meant that the organization was able to pivot to virtual events quickly and easily. Today, virtual events complement the organization’s in-person activities and are run seamlessly through Hivebrite.

Efficient membership management

With Hivebrite, the alumni association can create multiple membership tiers. It’s quick and easy to control what community resources and features each tier gives access to from the Hivebrite back office. 

Since switching to Hivebrite, the number of clubs using memberships has more than doubled. Through events and memberships, Notre Dame’s clubs were able to increase revenue by an incredible 36% within a year of launch.

The association and clubs can manage everything concerning membership directly from Hivebrite. It can now:

  • Offer one off and recurring membership payment options
  • Process payments directly within the platform
  • Automatically and trigger lifetime memberships based on previous membership payments
  • Offer rolling memberships

The alumni association can also raise money for causes such as scholarship funds and local charities by prompting members to make a donation when renewing membership.

A group dedicated to branding guidelines has been created within the platform to ensure consistency and reinforce Notre Dame’s branding throughout its online community

Promoting fundraisers and encouraging donations

Previously, designing campaign pages, promoting fundraisers amongst the network, as well as processing donations were all highly time-consuming tasks for the Fundraising Team. 

The Fundraising team can now almost effortlessly create branded donation pages and promote fundraisers amongst its community using Hivebrite’s Donation Module. 

Donations are processed by an integrated payment gateway. Alumni can easily donate using the payment method of their choice. The fundraising team can manage all funds from one dashboard and donation reports are automatically generated with a couple of clicks.

The module was put into practice for the first time for the university’s fundraiser. “The Fight” was an eight-hour livestream featuring performances and interviews with Notre Dame students, alumni and staff to rally awareness and encourage gifts for the Student Emergency Relief Fund—a fund that provides for students and their families who were adversely affected by COVID-19. 

Powered by Hivebrite’s Donation Module, the campaign raised an amazing $8.7 million dollars during the event. The campaign took less than a half hour to build and deploy.

“With Hivebrite, Notre Dame was able to set up a COVID-19 response fundraising campaign in under half an hour that was seen by over 100,000 potential donors worldwide. We can now easily create beautiful campaigns with a second to none user experience to encourage and facilitate donations,” said Brandon Tabor, Senior Director, Annual Giving, University of Notre Dame


All broadcast email communications are sent using Hivebrite’s Communication Module—including a monthly newsletter that is sent to 215,000 people.

The alumni association can now better manage subscriptions and send targeted campaigns based on criteria such as class year, school of study, and location thanks to Hivebrite’s data integrations.

A game-changing platform for alumni engagement

The new platform has transformed the alumni engagement strategy. Staff and volunteers no longer lose productivity due to time-consuming tasks involved with event planning and membership renewals, meaning they can invest more time in strategy.

Members of clubs and groups that had previously been dormant for years started to engage with each other, sharing posts, commenting content, and starting conversations. It has also become easier to recruit volunteers because the platform is a pleasure to use.