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Master Alumni Engagement Best Practices

For any university, college, or school system, alumni networks are important. A network of alums doesn’t just help meet fundraising goals, but members can even act as public ambassadors, mentor students and offer post-graduation job opportunities, support athletic departments, and even help increase new student enrollment. 

But the key to all that is good alumni engagement, and not everyone does it well. Today we’ll explore some alumni engagement best practices to make your network as strong as it can be.


How Important is Alumni Engagement?

According to a 2020 report by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, alumni giving at U.S. colleges totaled more than $11 billion in 2019. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not spread out evenly.

Only 8 percent of U.S. alumni give to their alma mater on average, according to that same survey of 1,451 ranked colleges. Meanwhile, the top schools in the study were seeing giving rates of 44 percent and higher. Once again, the difference is a strategic approach to alumni engagement.

Donor Search notes that a full 93 percent of alumni associations “offer no direct benefits to their members.” Let’s make sure you don’t fall into that category.


6 Alumni Engagement Best Practices

1. Know Your Audience

As with any community nurturing operation, the first step is to know who you are talking to. Your alumni network is mostly likely diverse, so create a few categories and different messaging for each category of alums. Make sure to keep your member database (CRM) up to date, too – there’s no point in reaching out to people who have dropped off the rolls.

  • Update your database constantly.
  • Make sure you have a system for getting 'new' alums involved.
  • Segment your target members into categories.


2. Tailor Content to Your Alums

Now that you have some categories set up, it’s important to create messaging that speaks to each one directly. If you’re talking to fans of the school’s sports programs, keep that in mind. Graduates from an Education program? People with a Finance degree? Take a different approach with each different group of people. Not everyone will want to engage with the school. But lifelong fans are ready to jump in and support/engage how they can. 

  • Find out what content (videos, news, articles, podcasts, etc.) your alums will find valuable (test if you're not sure).
  • Create a distinct customer journey alumni will work through, then insert relative 'asks' along the way.


3. Don’t Just Ask for Money

Fundraising is a big part of why the network exists, but when it comes to alumni engagement best practices, you can’t just solicit donations and nothing else. Members will start to delete or ignore the content reflexively. Instead, send them news on new programs and sports updates, offer perks from local partner businesses, and anything that will make them feel like they're still part of the community. Free guides, offers, and perks are always good choices. 

  • Add in non-fundraising communication.
  • Include local news, program updates, and sports results are all good ideas. 
  • Offer alumni discounts from partner businesses.


4. Mix Things Up

People get bored easily, and if you’re only reaching out via one mode of communication, it will get old fast. Plan out a healthy mix of email campaigns, articles, video content, podcasts, snail mail, and even texting. Also, use video and social media to reconnect with old alums – especially alumni-generated content, which sees a high rate of engagement. Alumni photos from the big game? Student snaps of their favorite part of campus? That’s all great.

  • Utilize different modes of communication.
  • Vary between email, newsletters, alternate platforms, etc.
  • Highlight user-generated content whenever possible.


5. Keep It Steady

High on the list of alumni engagement best practices is regular communication. Plan out ways to be consistent in reaching out, even as you mix up the mode of contact and message. It shows you are engaged and that effort will be appreciated. It will also keep your school fresh in the alumni’s memory.

  • Set up an editorial calendar to track content production and publishing. 
  • Look to start monthly email nurture campaigns, quarterly newsletters, regular events, and reunions.


6. Deliver a Sense of Ownership

Finally, the most engaging alumni networks have one thing in common: They make their members feel a sense of ownership in the institution. They probably already feel a sense of pride in the school, so you just have to take that one step further. Creativity is welcome here, but it could be done with something as simple as a survey. Take the results, listen to the members, and keep them in mind when making changes, planning events, or expanding. Then report back through your network.

  • Remind alums that they (and their honest opinion) are valued.
  • Create surveys and act on feedback.
  • Build your site on a reliable membership platform that offers features to help engage alums.


To Succeed, You Need a Strategic Plan to Manage Alumni 

As we’ve seen, engagement is the most important factor in a high-functioning alumni network, and the returns on your hard work can be game-changing. These alumni engagement best practices aren’t complicated, and most of them aren’t even hard to do, but they will help you give the most to your members and get the most for your institution.


About Cause Machine

Starting with an engagement strategy is the secret to building a successful online platform. Our team will build a custom engagement strategy and outline the tech solutions needed to hit your goals. You’ll find powerful tools in Cause Machine to engage your community, increase revenue, and create business outcomes. Learn how it can work for you here

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How to Create a Membership Website for Free

A membership website is any website with content that is 'gated' and hidden from the view of most users. They can be very useful and even profitable if built with a few best practices in mind. 

Membership sites are used by clubs, teams, professional associations, influencers/niche-based guru's, non-profit organizations, and even businesses (big or small). The possibilities are endless, but the purpose is the same: To foster community value, lead members on a journey, and create more revenue.

WIth a membership website, members-only content is what gets you there. You’re selling exclusivity, a pass into the private club. What if you're on a budget, not a programmer, or don't have tons of marketing/sales experience? No worries. You can still create a successful membership site for free. 


What do Membership Websites Do? 

First, it would be to define a membership website properly. It’s different from a subscription model. Both charge a fee for access to exclusive content like online learning courses, private newsletters, exclusive deals, or entertainment content, but membership sites offer all that plus features to participate in the community.

The content or access offered in the membership is often just a perk – a tool to help convince people to become more than users. Because once customers become members, it strengthens your organization. Whether through revenue from subscriptions, products sold, virtual events, or community engagement.


5 Steps to Launch a Free Membership Site

No two missions are the same, but if you’re looking to create a membership site free, there are some basic standard practices you can follow. Each method leaves room for interpretation and personality but will prove essential to success. 


1. Know Your End-Goal

Before you do anything, you first need to know what you’re offering and who you’re offering it to. If you’re running a small business, for instance, think long and hard about what sets it apart and why people will want it. Then consider which people love that specific brand of individuality. What could you offer as an exclusive experience? It must be something you can’t get elsewhere, and it must solve a problem. See who else is operating in your space, and try to stand out.

Action Steps

  • Create a customer journey outline.
  • Define what you do differently and why your target customer needs it.
  • Research and get to know your target customer as people (Typical interests, styles, hobbies, what are they currently consuming?).


2. Build a Value Proposition

Next, it’s time to build the selling point for the membership. You need to figure out what people will get for joining. Make sure the special offer aligns with your goals. Make sure this is simply communicated to the customer.

Action Steps

  • Decide what the basic 'bargain' will be – what do people get for joining? 
  • Figure out what that’s worth based on the current market, and see where you can compete/compare.
  • Keep it simple when it comes to creativity and extra complexity, especially as you get started. 


3. Set Your Pricing Levels

Now that you know what you’re offering, you have to price it. Using what you learned in the last step, strike a balance between what it’s worth and if you'll have any costs as you continue building and maintaining your site. One way to generate revenue based on your customers' commitment level is by creating membership tiers with different value propositions. Consider offering a free tier, which might translate into a paid membership later. Researching similar competitors in your specific market will give you a clear picture of what is successful. Depending on your niche, you'll need to adjust as you go.

Action Steps

  • Find a balance between what your offer is worth and your costs to deliver it.
  • Decide on membership structure and align it with your value proposition.
  • Choose a tier in the middle to recommend to potential customers.


4. Brand It

A key step in how to create a free membership website is branding. This is where you’ll give your website/platform a face – metaphorically speaking. Actually, you’ll give it a name, create a logo, pick a color scheme, and maybe even write a snappy slogan. Whatever you do, make sure it is crystal clear and speaks directly to the purpose of your offer. In short, make it professional, and take your time because people respond strongly to good branding, although it's not important as your content or product. That gives a brand its true identity.

Actions Steps

  • Create an official name that you can own wherever needed (Web URL, social platforms, etc.).
  • Design a logo and color scheme.
  • Make it easy to understand and interpret.


5. Build It

Now we have arrived at the fun stage; you get to build your own membership site and what it will contain. This can be a complicated choice as the 'solutions' are numerous. But again, there are a few basic practices that you can follow as you create for success.

There are countless membership site tools that you can use to craft your plan in real time. Many offer free trials or free plans altogether. Once you choose which is best, you can implement the strategies covered in this article into your approach. 

A few core things to include in your site are:
1. Landing page (make the sale here)

2. Membership options (Pricing tiers)

3. Clear Call to Action (CTA)

4. Gated content/experiences for exclusive members

5. eCommerce store to process transactions

6. A secure domain

Based on your needs, you'll want a platform where you can host exclusive content. Just remember this is the main attraction, so give it special attention.

Action Steps

  • Choose a tool/method for building your site.
  • Create a members-only space to host forums, event details, classes, etc.
  • Remember to include value propositions and sales material to gain new members.


These are some basic elements to create a membership website for free, and now you’re ready to get started. You'll need to dive deeper into a few specifics, like what membership platform fits your needs and how you'll work to deliver your content. 


About Cause Machine

Starting with a community engagement strategy is the secret to building a successful platform in the long term. Cause Machine helps customers build the plan of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy. We’re certain that you’ll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community. Learn how it can work for you here

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8 Online Side Gigs to Do From Home

It seems like everyone has a side hustle these days. Chalk it up to a changing economy and evolving worker preferences, but according to multiple employment studies, at least 30% of American workers have a job beyond their regular 9-5. And more people are joining those ranks each day.

Maybe you’re interested in becoming one of those folks – there are plenty of reasons to, after all – but the thought of trudging back out into the world after job #1 is holding you back. Well, you could consider a side gig from home.

With a fully-remote, part-time job in the digital economy, you can get all the benefits of a second job without subjecting yourself to two commutes. You could supplement your paycheck, follow a passion, work on professional development or even start that business you’ve always wanted to. It could be the perfect chance to try out a potential career move or just help you save extra money for a rainy day fund (or vacation). But where to start?

Want to take your passion online where you own the data and experience? Schedule a free demo.

Depending on your skills and experience, there’s probably something out there for you. Here we’ve gathered a list of 8 potential side gigs from home that could meet your needs and maybe even change your life.


8 Side-Gigs You Can Do From Home


1. Teach English Online

side gigs from home

If you are reading this, congrats! You have the first qualification for becoming an online teacher of English as a Second Language. There are many services that connect native English speakers with students all around the world and can even train you how to teach. Most of these gigs will require a college degree, but little else.

  • Potential pay: $14-$22/hour   
  • Job Board: VIPKid


2. Bookkeeping

side gigs from home

Every business or nonprofit needs someone to take care of the books – even as accounting programs get smarter and easier to use. But here’s a (not so) shocking truth: Most people do not feel comfortable enough with math to do it themselves. If you happen to be a math lover with a college degree and some basic accounting experience, freelance bookkeeping could be the plum side gig from home you’re looking for.


3. Photo Editing

side gigs from home

You don’t have to be a math or language wiz to score a sweet side gig from home. Creatives can get involved, too, and digital photo editing is a great option. If you’ve got some Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom skills and love touching up family photos (or cropping an unwanted ex out of the picture completely), you could already be in high demand. 

  • Potential pay: Varies 
  • Job Board: Guru 


4. Online Tutoring

side gigs from home

Every semester, a new class of students sign up for important classes and every semester, just like clockwork, some of those students need help with the coursework. Suppose you are a recent grad, or even a working professional with expertise in a field like statistics, biology, or accounting. In that case, you could be the perfect fit for an online tutor. The best part of this side gig from home is this – on top of some extra cash, you also get to help someone succeed.

  • Potential pay: $18/hour
  • Job Board: TutorMe


5. Start a Small Business

side gigs from home

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of being your own boss, and starting up a business of your own – but you just never have the time or energy. Here’s a secret: It doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to take up all of your time, and it doesn’t have to be your main gig. What about an Etsy shop, a car detailing biz, or any one of these other ideas? Even if you start small, your entrepreneurial spirit is priceless, and Cause Machine can help make your vision a professional success.

  • Potential pay: Limitless
  • Job Board: You make it yourself!


6. Transcription

side gigs from home

Journalists, writers, video producers, and many other professionals have a recurring problem that’s perfect for a side gig from home – extended interviews or audio recordings that need to be transcribed, word for word, and quickly. This potential side hustle is great because the only thing it really requires is decent typing skills and access to a computer. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash without spending much of your own brain power.



7. Social Media Managing

side gigs to do from home

Well-run social media accounts have become a fundamental need for businesses, large and small. Whether they’re used for intensive marketing campaigns or just driving community engagement, someone has to run things. But not every business has an in-house option who’s both available and competent, so they sometimes hire freelancers. If you can demonstrate reliability and a good understanding of the social landscape, you could start posting your way to an extra paycheck.

  • Potential pay: $15-$30/hour
  • Job Board: Indeed


8. Resume Writing

side gigs from home

Finally, the simple fact you are reading this is proof that many people out there are job hunting. So if you’ve got concise writing skills and a keen eye for text design, why not consider resume writing? It can be done from anywhere and doesn’t require much in the way of hardware – just a word processor, really. And on top of helping others achieve their goal, or maybe even help provide their family with a better life, you get valuable experience for your own resume, too.

  • Potential pay: $19/hour
  • Job Board: FlexJobs


As time goes on and the working world evolves, it seems like having a side gig from home will only become more widespread – and perhaps more necessary. Use these suggestions to get started toward a goal now – whether it’s a fresh career path or just a little added financial security. You might thank yourself later.


Cause Machine Solutions

One of the most significant pieces of what sets Cause Machine apart from other technology platforms is where we start… with a community engagement strategy. We begin all of our work on the foundation of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy. We’re certain that you’ll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community as well. Learn how it can work for you here


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The Conservative Alternative to Facebook: Top 5 Platforms

Americans live in a time of polarized politics – and that's easy to see on social media. Although the ability to express one's beliefs has begun to feel more like a right than a privilege, some feel their views are being censored, and have even begun seeking a conservative alternative to Facebook.


The Current Throne of Social Media

In many ways, a reaction to Facebook's dominance makes sense. Maybe it was even inevitable. According to parent company Meta, about 2 billion people use the platform every day, making it the leading social network overall and the biggest in the U.S., with over 63% of the population 13 or older using it. That's about 210 million Americans, and with its huge potential reach, Facebook has to regulate what gets posted – which has become a politically sensitive proposition.


What is the Role of a Social Media Company?

Most policies are intended to counteract disinformation and silence hate speech, which most Americans agree is important. But then the question becomes, "what is disinformation and hate speech?" As a result, many American conservatives believe Facebook has gone too far. 

Posts by influential right-wing commentators have been flagged, and users have been suspended – or even de-platformed altogether – with some accusing Facebook of putting its thumb on the scale of democracy. Add in nagging privacy and security issues, and many have left Facebook, searching for something… different. 

Lucky for them, a whole parallel social-media universe has sprung up.

Top 5 options when looking for a Conservative Alternative to Facebook.

1. Parler

conservative alternative to Facebook

This whole "conservative alternative to Facebook" thing didn't come from nowhere … it started with Parler. Purpose-built in 2018 and described as an "unbiased alternative to mainstream social networks," Parler first became widely popular in 2020, just as Facebook policies changed. It was then banned by Apple, Google, and Amazon stores, killing some of its momentum. But now it's back with stricter content controls and has about 15 million users, which tends to spike during election cycles.

  • The "OG" of conservative platforms
  • Focused on free sharing of non-mainstream news and opinion
  • Users say its more restrictive than it lets on


2. Rumble

conservative alternative to facebook

Rumble launched in Canada in 2013 and has now become a conservative favorite for video sharing à la YouTube. Users can share video content without restriction – and even monetize it, which Facebook doesn't allow. The platform experienced an influx of users after the 2020 election and now claims 80 million users, most of whom were referred from Parler after it was temporarily suspended.

  • Unrestricted content sharing 
  • Large, politically active user base 
  • Can monetize your content


3. Gab

conservative alternative to facebook

Next up is Gab, which launched in 2017 as just another social network, but has grown to become a home for the "outcasts" of the mainstream. A microblogging site similar to Twitter, many users arrive on Gab after being banned by other networks, drawn to the site's promotion of "free speech," "individual liberty," "free flow of information online," and Christian values. Detractors call it a haven for extremism, racism, conspiracy nuts, and antisemites, claiming it plays a role in growing radicalization.

  • Can publish posts, chat, create private groups, read conservative news, and even shop 
  • Fierce devotion to "freedom of expression"
  • A reputation that makes it attractive to extremists, hate speech


4. MeWe

conservative alternative to facebook

MeWe is an exciting option in the conservative alternative to Facebook world. It's not explicitly described as "conservative" in any way, but does have a value proposition that aligns well with many conservative values. Billing itself as the "anti" Facebook, MeWe allows for posting, groups, and other social must-haves with no ads, no data targeting, no political bias,, and no news feed manipulation. It currently boasts about 20 million users.

  • Posting, news, groups, personal chats, user tagging, and a two-way camera for video chats
  • Hands off approach to user data
  • Doesn't gather user info (or sell it to China)


5. Truth

conservative alternative to facebook

Finally, we come to Truth Social. Launched in 2022 by former U.S. President Donald Trump, it is a direct response to the removal of certain conservative users from other platforms – including the former President himself. Purpose-built as an "uncensored" alternative to Twitter and Facebook, Truth aims to allow for free expression, and offers most of the familiar social media features you are used to, but has at times been accused of censorship itself. It's also small for now, with only about 2 million users, but it's the only place to be if you're looking to keep up with Trump.

  • First and only social media platform started by a former president 
  • Created as a purpose-built conservative alternative to Facebook 
  • Can post Truths and share "ReTruth," as well as video content


If you want a conservative alternative to Facebook, these are just a few of the many options out there – and the field keeps growing all the time. Whether you're looking to bring your users into one platform where you own the data and monetization or just want a new social media environment. For users worried about their views being unfairly censored or silenced, it seems free speech is alive and well.


Cause Machine Solutions

One of the most significant pieces of what sets Cause Machine apart from other technology platforms is where we start… with a community engagement strategy. We begin all of our work on the foundation of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy. We're certain that you'll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community as well. Learn how it can work for you here

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Event management software for nonprofits [Best of 2023]

For any nonprofit organization, events are a big deal. Landing somewhere between the lifeblood and litmus test, each one is simultaneously the best chance to promote your mission, network with potential supporters, and raise funds. But as important as they are, running an event management software for a non-profit can be very challenging. 

So many things must be skillfully addressed, from promotion and registration to ticketing, day-of communication, seating, and more. That’s why having the right event management software is so important.

Discover how Cause Machine can help you manage events and keep attendees engaged in between.

The right event management software for nonprofits helps ease a painstaking process, getting more people in the door and making the event itself impact attendees. These days, event managers know the right tools can even help raise more money, simply because the event-going experience is so much better. Ultimately, if your business has an all-in-one solution event management software that will let donors know your nonprofit has its act together, it's worthy of support.

Here are 5 things you should look for when choosing event management software:

  1. Mobile responsive website design 

  2. Easy registration and promotional tools

  3. Engaging and authoritative day-of communications

  4. Highlight speakers and exhibits

  5. Convert attendees into community members 

  6. Host virtual events 

The best event management software for nonprofits [Top 5]:


1. Wild Apricot

event management software for nonprofits

Wild Apricot is an event management platform meant to de-mystify the hosting of a nonprofit event, from website creation to payment processing, email reminders and post-event reporting. 

Key Features:

  • Free app featuring mobile registration and payments for users
  • Fully searchable contact database for managers
  • Easy to use website builder

2. Eventbrite

event management software for nonprofits

Already a trusted name in the event space, Eventbrite also offers software tailored to nonprofit needs. Along with a free registration app, managers can employ Eventbrite's full suite of promotional tools.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use and trusted by both managers and attendees
  • Built-in marketing and promotion tools
  • Ticket sales on your own site

3. Cvent

event management

Sometimes effective event management comes down to effective time management, and in that case, Cvent can help. This software automates many of things needed to run a successful event, so you can focus elsewhere.

Key Features:

  • Automated marketing, registration, and analytics
  • No need to be a techno-wizard 
  • Workflow management

4. Bizzabo

Event management software for nonprofits

Bizzabo is another useful example of event management software for nonprofits, aimed at impressing attendees in the run up, and thrilling on the day of. But what about after everyone goes home?

Key Features:

  • Website builder with smooth ticket selling and registration
  • Mobile compatibility with user-friendly feel 
  • Hybrid events

5. Eventzilla

Event management software

It’s true that any event can become a monster, but with Eventzilla, managers can minimize the carnage. This full-service software handles everything from ticketing to reserved seating. 

Key Features:

  • Mobile or print-at-home ticket
  • Barcode scanning and registration
  • Seemless checkout

Whatever event management software for nonprofits you choose, it’s sure to make your next event run smoother – and help improve results. But for something so essential to nonprofit success, the right platform is key.

Cause Machine Solutions

One of the most significant pieces of what sets Cause Machine apart from other technology platforms is where we start… with a community engagement strategy.  We begin all of our work on the foundation of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy.  We’re certain that you’ll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community as well. Learn how it can work for you here

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