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Imperial College London

Alumni research

The brief

Imperial College London was looking to commission an alumni survey to gain a data-driven perspective of the attitudes and perceptions of alumni, and a better understanding of the drivers and inhibitors of alumni engagement. This included a focus on alumni giving, communications, volunteering, events, services and benefits, and recommendations.

Imperial were interested in understanding how to best evolve their offer and their communications to inform, enthuse and mobilise their alumni.

Our approach and methodology

Shift designed a multi-phase methodology.

  • Cognitive interviews: Based on stakeholder meetings which sought to refine research objectives and questioning, Shift developed a draft eSurvey guide. We then conducted 7 face-to-face cognitive interviews on-site to test key questions. Interviews aimed to identify and analyse sources of response error by focusing on the cognitive processes which respondents used to answer questions.
  • Quantitative eSurvey: A 30-question online survey was developed to help explore experiences of studying, level of affinity with the University, use of alumni services and benefits and current engagement with the University. Our sample included international and domestic alumni as well as a variety of age ranges, faculties and graduation years.
  • Qualitative interviews: To further understand and interrogate the findings of the quantitative phase, Shift conducted 20 in-depth telephone interviews with a range of alumni. This allowed us to drill down into areas of dissatisfaction and to better understand the drivers and barriers to engagement.
Delivering results and value to our client

A number of advanced statistical methods were used as part of the quantitative analysis, including:

  • A regression analysis to understand key driving factors to engagement with the university.
  • A cluster analysis was used to understand the characteristics and behaviours of specific segments of alumni.
  • Structural equation modelling was used to develop a model which helped to explain the factors which were likely to lead to engagement in event attendance, volunteering and giving.
  • Key performance indicators were also developed, such as an Engagement score, a Warmth score and a Net Promoter Score which can be utilised for tracking longitudinally.