The Indiana University Alumni Association celebrates and supports IU while bringing together all who share a love for the university. With 650,000 graduates from nearly ten campuses, their membership base spans not just generations – but the entire globe! – a challenge for creating a membership experience that fulfills current alumni while attracting soon-to-be graduates.
Our relationship with IUAA began with a facilitated board retreat. In working with the organization as they prepared for a new 5-year strategic plan, we learned that no matter what benefits IUAA offered, all alumni desired a personalized experience. With two core campuses and six regional campuses, chapters in cities across the globe, dozens of affinity groups, and staff and alumni from all walks of life, engaging all parties in a unique way wouldn’t be easy. This challenge became one of the core pillars for their new plan, and one that we continued working on with them.
It takes a special team to lead us through a constructive, frank, and revealing search for our organizational character and values. Many thanks for doing a first rate job! It is transformative to work with you all.
– J.T. FORBES, IUAA CEO
To better understand audience needs, we facilitated more than a dozen design research sessions with a cross-section of staff, volunteers, alumni, and students. The revelations from these sessions lead to a turning point: creating a meaningful, personal network of alumni meant the membership experience would need a major redesign.
This initiative, outlined in the new strategic plan, meant setting aside long-held beliefs and membership revenue models and enacting changes would ripple out across the IU ecosystem—to those who raise funds, maintain the database, and process membership dues.
Partnering with the newly assembled membership task force team, we employed experience design methodology—teaching the IUAA team our design practices along the way–to deliver not just a new membership experience, but also a working knowledge of design thinking, including hands-on practice with empathy research, synthesis, ideation, prototyping, and testing methods.
Our plan empowered IUAA to employ a variety of design research methods to collect insights – and alumni were incredibly generous, open, and creative in their responses. After synthesizing the research, we facilitated an ideation session with 60 of the most engaged member volunteers. This allowed IUAA to crowdsource ideas straight from their audiences, while creating valuable member buy-in for forthcoming organizational challenges.
Additional ideation sessions gave the membership team even more ideas and opportunities to move forward into prototyping and testing. Reimagining an entire membership program is no small task, and the team is currently at work on a roll-out plan to serve all who wear the Cream & Crimson.