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  Finding lost alumni. Records
StrategyFinding lost alumni is one of the hallmarks of a successful records tracing strategy.

Here are some ideas to use to increase your effectiveness in this activity.
  • List your lost alumni on your web site. If they happen to use a search engine to find themselves, they can link to the page and find out the explanation as to why they are on it.
  • Display lists of lost alumni at registration tables at your reunion events so that attendees can review the lists.
  • Include lists of lost alumni in specific class mailings with an update form so that fellow classmates can update information on friends they may know that are not at the event.
  • Trace alumni through their last known addresses by contacting neighbors to see if you can find any forwarding information.
  • Hand out brochures at athletic events that offer participation in a drawing or receipt of a prize for helping to find lost alumni.
  • Enlist reunion volunteers by class to help find missing alumni. This can be particularly effective where class sizes at the time of graduation were small, or graduates tended to be localized in one community.
  • Keep your current address list up to date and monitor trends. This will help to avoid losing alumni in the first place.
  • Enlist the aid of departments and schools on campus to help find alumni that the central office may not be as "close" to as a school or department is.
  • For graduates of your institution that also have degrees from other institutions, create a cooperative agreement to exchange address updates if allowed by your internal and institutional data management policies.
  • Work with related societies and organizations, such as professional societies to try and obtain contact information, or have them forward pieces like an address update questionnaire for you.
  • Have your fundraisers take class lists of lost alumni on visits and have the lists reviewed by prospect to see if anyone can be located.
  • Hire screening companies to try and locate your lost alumni.
  • Check corporate and organization web sites and call the organization to see if they will give you an address or contact update or forward your request to the individual. You can also forward lists to alums working for the company and have them check and see if they can get updated information.
  • In any alumni surveys have a reference to lost alumni and where survey respondents can go to review a list.
  • Some institutions offer alumni a free lifetime email address which can help you keep track of alumni and get address updates. However, since people change their email addresses often, you need to have similar maintenance practices in place that you would for addresses, phone numbers and any other contact information.
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