Harnessing data and sub-communities for community success
When you watch this exclusive webinar recording, you will learn:
- Why community metrics don’t have to be complicated
- The value of sub-communities and tagging
- How to train your volunteers to level-up their contributions
- The key to recruiting volunteers
Watch the recording now
Key takeaways from the Hivebrite webinar “Harnessing data and sub-communities for community success”
Ria Kapluck, Customer Success Manager, Hivebrite, and Terence Sinkfield, Vice President, Alumni Support, West Point Association of Graduates, discuss how Terence and his team employ data, sub-communities, and CRM integrations to measure and drive success in Sallyport, the organization’s alumni community powered by Hivebrite.
“Our mission is to serve West Point and the Long Gray Line, which is what we call our alumni or our graduates,” says Terence. “And our vision is to be the most highly connected alumni body in the world. The real value that we bring to our constituents is the ability to form enhanced connections.”
Sallyport is where those connections are able to happen. “It’s almost immeasurable, the impact of the platform,” says Terence. “Many enhanced connections are made daily.”
Why community metrics don’t have to be complicated
Terence and his colleagues at West Point Association of Graduates love data. In fact, they track 61 engagement metrics across all of their activities, including donations, in-person site visits, emails with staff, event attendance, and more.
But for Sallyport, their Hivebrite-powered digital community, they track just two main metrics: Overall adoption of the platform and unique users over one year. Through these numbers, they can see if their grads know the community exists and if they’re using it.
If those numbers are not where he wants them to be, then he’ll dig deeper into the data to see what is going on. But for high level reporting, he keeps it simple. “I think if grads are using it, that is the indicator of success, and everything else follows that,” Terence says.
The value of sub-communities and tagging
Within the community, Terence and his team have created hundreds of sub-groups to boost engagement. Alumni can join sub-communities for 82 living graduation year classes, six affinity groups, and 129 societies in Sallyport. “It’s not complex, it’s easy,” says Terence of their community structure. “The grads convene, and we go to where they are.”
In addition to sub-community membership, alumni in the community are searchable across 19 criteria, enabling graduates to connect with people specific to their interests, needs, and location. Alumni information is kept up-to-date through alumni updates and API connections through Hivebrite and West Point’s CRM.
“We know that in order for our community to be successful, constituent updates are the priority,” says Terence. “Either encouraging those updates and or receiving them in an automated fashion through an API built with Hivebrite.”
How to train your volunteers to level-up their contributions
Terence reports that since Sallyport launched in 2019, the increased impact of the organization’s volunteers has been enormous.
“There is customer delight for our volunteers, especially those that really leaned into the platform and have learned it and have partnered with us to grow alongside us,” he says. “Our volunteer leaders can hold their own events, we’re able to help them curate strong campaigns, and we’re able to provide them with the ability to manage their membership.”
Training the volunteers on the platform has been essential to everyone’s success, and even created a flywheel where volunteers now train each other, further freeing up staff for other tasks.
“We invest time in training, and then they help each other,” he says. “I see a lot of goodness whenever we get our volunteer leaders training other volunteers.”
The key to recruiting volunteers
West Point Association of Graduates and its community has a robust volunteer base, and Terence admits that he can’t take full credit for their enthusiasm. “Our graduates have a very, very strong affinity for the Academy,” he says.
But his best advice for others looking to boost their recruitment of volunteers in their community is to make volunteering easy.
“If you’re not blessed to have a wonderful volunteer network like I am, you have to make it easy for your volunteers,” he says. “That’s the secret sauce, to make it easy for them, provide them all the avenues to connect with you. Make it so it is not easy for them to go out there and do something else! Make it just so easy that your volunteers will just come rushing in because you’re the easiest opportunity for them to serve.”