They CAN be Converted, but for Low Value

Resisters (29% of all alumni) have low levels of involvement with your institution, and they like it that way. With few opportunities to successfully entice them toward further involvement, an alumni program can benefit from Resisters by reducing costs through less-frequent contact.

Resisters, as could be expected, are least likely to be an active donor to their undergraduate institution (16%), and most likely to have never given (46%). They are extremely unlikely to have ever joined a dues-paying alumni association.

Some may view this behavior as evidence of a negative student experience, or that an institution must have alienated them somehow. For most Resisters, this is not true. More than two out of three rate their student experience as 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Resisters’ rating of their alumni experience is comparable to that of most other segments.

Rather, the factors influencing Resisters’ indifference to their alma mater can be boiled down to these two factors: first, their failure to develop connections as a student, and second, life changes that have drawn them away from who they were in college.

As students, Resisters tended to be much less active in developing college friendships and participating in campus life and activities. Many Resisters never developed relationships that were worth maintaining over time.

In addition, Resisters tend to have experienced a greater degree of separation from their college days, including AGE (like Reminiscers they tend to be older than other segments), LIFESTAGE (at 8%, they are the most likely alumni to report being divorced, excluding those who have remarried) and CAREER (despite moderate-to-high incomes, Resisters are most likely to work outside their undergraduate major).  As a result, Resisters simply don’t have any interest in or reason to engage in the ongoing life of the Alma Mater. They have little interest in potential alumni activities and are largely unmotivated by any type of financial appeal.

What can an alumni program do for them? Not much. They would rather be left alone. Alumni programs that are bold enough to do just that can reap a hidden benefit – a reduction of the costs that accompany ongoing communications with alumni. With nearly three in ten alumni being Resisters, the potential savings are substantial.

We don’t recommend writing Resisters off completely. But they can be treated more like a casual acquaintance, with fewer planned contacts and less investment in the relationship.

How do you identify Resisters in your database? Campbell Rinker has developed a survey-based model to help you categorize alumni into each of the R4 Matrix alumni segments. If you conduct an alumni survey, be sure to include the handful of questions that can be used to classify your alumni.

Methodology: Data based on Campbell Research’s AlumniPoll 2002, Campbell Research’s syndicated online survey of more than 3,000 North American alumni. Data were weighted to match national proportions for public/private enrollment, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Segments were defined through K-means cluster analysis.