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University of Michigan Alumni Association

With Salesforce CRM solutions, the University of Michigan's Alumni Association is able to engage with alumni more effectively.
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The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan Reduces Membership Acquisition Costs by 50%

Searching for an Enterprise Solution

The University of Michigan is fortunate to have one of the largest and proudest groups of alumni across the globe. By its own estimates, the university has more than 616,000 living alumni.

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan serves this group with a variety of programs, including in-person events, online communities, career services, alumni travel, family camp offerings, and more.

“We’re here for our alumni for the next career move, the next big trip, the next crucial contact, and everything in between,” said Andre Zoldan, Senior Director of Technology for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. “Our purpose is to help alumni connect and be successful after graduation – to help them with whatever comes next – and that relationship lasts a lifetime.”

The Alumni Association was feeling constrained by the legacy systems it had in place to keep track of its alumni and effectively engage and support them. Beyond being limited in their capabilities, the Alumni Association’s legacy point solutions for customer relationship management (CRM) and Marketing created data silos and were unable to accommodate long-term growth and business objectives.

“We needed a solution that could fit into an enterprise scale institution and offer advanced tools and features, yet be agile and capable to be used by a relatively small staff who needed to focus on business value, not on figuring out how to make technology work,” said Zoldan.

The Right Combination of Scalability and Flexibility

After a full analysis and evaluation of potential platforms, the decision to go with Salesforce was ultimately an easy choice.

“We realized that Salesforce was able to offer a truly robust and extremely scalable solution that satisfied our current business aspirations,” said Zoldan. “Perhaps even more importantly, it provided a platform that will enable us to evolve and grow into our long-term future, and take a deliberate approach to marketing based on data-informed decisions.”

Aside from the qualities of the offering itself, Salesforce offered easy integration with a key piece of technology the Alumni Association was using: Blackbaud CRM.

“Integration between Salesforce and Blackbaud CRM was absolutely essential to our business processes,” explained Zoldan. “Not only do we rely on data that is often sourced at Blackbaud, but we also use it to contribute to the richness and relevance of our Salesforce data – it’s a two way street.”

Throughout the implementation, Salesforce’s people provided expert support, guidance, and best practices as part of the Premier Success plan.

University of Michigan Alumni Association

“The Salesforce team was nothing short of fantastic,” said Zoldan. “They were advocates and true partners from day one, throughout the entire implementation and adoption process. They were always there for us.”

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Embracing Salesforce as a platform has delivered significant benefits over the technologies that the Alumni Association had in place before.

For starters, Sales Cloud provides the ability to leverage a 360-degree view of the customer and create better, more efficient processes across the Alumni Association. Meanwhile, using Marketing Cloud for both member acquisition and retention efforts enables the Alumni Association to provide dynamic content via email based on data in Salesforce. The Alumni Association also uses Marketing Cloud to engage via social networks, and is looking to further expand marketing efforts into mobile as well.

Community Cloud offers a separate layer of engagement with alumni. The Alumni Association uses it to collect and update data (for example, when an alumnus creates or updates a user profile); enable connections between alumni through tools like the Alumni Directory; and provide access to relevant documentation. The Alumni Association also uses Salesforce as its e-commerce platform to process payments for alumni memberships, events, tickets, and merchandise.

To continuously improve its operations and effectiveness, the Alumni Association is using Einstein Analytics to measure engagement data, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) across its operations.

“Einstein lets us aggregate, analyze, and visualize data from multiple sources in order to better understand alumni,” said Upasna Kakroo, Executive Director of Marketing. “That lets us create better audience segmentation and generate campaigns based on data analysis – rather than hunches or guesses. We can then communicate via the most effective marketing channel based on our analysis.”

The results have been significant – both in terms of time savings and cost savings. “We can create marketing campaigns directly from within Einstein, which helps bring down our data pulling time, in addition to allowing us to be more segmented,” said Zoldan. “This reduces a process that used to take up to a day down to just a few clicks.”

Kakroo noted: “Today, we are operating much more effectively, much more digitally, and at a much lower cost than before. We were able to reduce our marketing budget by approximately $200,000 simply through better data and segmentation, which helps us reduce direct mail costs and also use more digital channels to communicate. Additionally, we reduced our cost of acquisition for membership by 50% year-over-year, a lot of which can be attributed to better segmented data and ROI-focused marketing efforts.”

“Ultimately, Salesforce helps us to better know our customers – and that allows us to engage them in ways that are most relevant or meaningful to them,” said Zoldan. “Salesforce helps us work smarter – not harder – to accomplish our goals of serving our alumni base.”


  • Large alumni base (600K+) to engage with and support
  • Legacy systems kept data siloed, couldn’t provide complete view of alumni
  • Needed a solution with a combination of scalability and flexibility, including ability to integrate with other technologies in use within the Alumni Association


  • Salesforce provides an enterprise platform that lets the University of Michigan Alumni Association provide a seamless, personalized experience to its alumni


  • Market and engage with alumni more effectively, reducing time required to create targeted campaigns from as much as a day to just minutes
  • Cut marketing costs by approximately $200,000 through better use of data and segmentation
  • Reduce alumni membership acquisition costs by 50% year-over-year


  • Lightning CRM
  • Marketing Cloud
  • Social Studio
  • Advertising Studio
  • Community Cloud
  • Service Cloud
  • Einstein Analytics
  • Premier Success

About University of Michigan:

A top-ranked public university, the University of Michigan has a tradition of excellence in research, learning and teaching, sports and the arts, and more. From its flagship campus in Ann Arbor – and regional campuses in Dearborn, Flint, and Detroit – the University of Michigan serves over 63,000 students.

About the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan:

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan nurtures lifelong relationships with and among current and future Michigan alumni and the University. As a committed partner and supporter of the University, the Association offers programs of relevance and services to over 600,000 alumni.

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