In the past, alumni relations, or engagement, tended to be treated as a stand-alone activity divorced from fundraising and other advancement activities. Indeed, some alumni associations were entirely independent of their parent institutions, and whilst their members interacted with each other, they had very little interaction with the institution. Today, alumni relations is an important part of an institution's advancement activities for many reasons: Alumni are an institution's most loyal supporters. Alumni are fundraising prospects. Alumni generate invaluable word-of-mouth marketing among their social and professional networks. By engaging alumni, an institution can continue to benefit from their skills and experience. Alumni are great role models for current students and are often well placed to offer practical support to students as they start their careers. Alumni are often in the position to engage the expertise of the institution in their professional lives. Your alumni are your international ambassadors. They take their knowledge of your institution to their hometowns and countries and into their professional and social networks.

Students, past and present, are what any university should be all about. Faculty and staff are vital as well, but students are unique in that they will forever fill a role—whether they are current students or long graduated. It would be easy to lose track of most graduates after they embark on their various careers, but doing so would be a huge mistake on any university’s part. Why? They create the university’s reputation, which relies in large part on how successful graduates are in the real world. This process is self-feeding as well. If a school becomes well known for producing graduates that are intelligent, innovative, and effective in their fields, then its reputation will grow. New graduates will have better job prospects because they went to a well-known school, and the process will continue.