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Usher's new look: Developing a digital strategy to effectively engage alumni and volunteers



Usher’s New Look (UNL)—a national, youth-oriented nonprofit organization based in the United States—wanted to engage its alumni and volunteers to better coordinate various development programs for underprivileged youth. With Accenture’s help, UNL was able to develop an online platform to strategically engage its program alumni and volunteers in developing today’s youth into global leaders.

UNL is dedicated to engaging underprivileged youth in four leadership pillars—talent, education, career and service. Volunteers help support UNL’s mission and facilitate opportunities for youth, to help them identify their unique talents, hone in on education, explore career opportunities and give back to others.

Since its inception, UNL has been transforming the lives of today’s youth as they progress from the eighth grade through college. The results speak for themselves: 100 percent of its youth participants graduated from the program, and 98 percent went (or have gone) on to higher education.


Focused on growing its Leadership Academy and delivering programs online, UNL sought innovative strategies to engage its alumni and volunteers in supporting the development of today’s youth into global leaders.

Alumni and volunteers have always played key roles in the organization’s success and have primarily engaged with UNL through word-of-mouth opportunities, existing relationships and a multi-step application process.

Due to manual processes, UNL was finding it difficult to maintain connections with its growing alumni base and promote volunteer opportunities. The organization required sustainable and scalable ways to stay connected with its alumni while implementing new strategies to recruit additional volunteers.

UNL wanted to create a user-friendly online application to promote opportunities through consistent messaging. It also wanted to create a centralized database of alumni, volunteer and event information. The aim was to implement this in an integrated manner that could be measured and tracked against quantifiable, time-bound goals.

UNL turned to Accenture for help. As part of its cross-campus Accenture Innovation Challenge, Accenture conducted a multi-round case competition for undergraduate students to develop solutions to address the challenges faced by the nonprofit organization. The winning team from the University of Pennsylvania got an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in creating client value working with Accenture.


By building on the winning idea from the Accenture Innovation Challenge, the Accenture team performed an initial assessment of current practices for alumni and volunteer engagement and benchmarked them against practices of peer organizations with a similar focus on youth development. The winning team from the University of Pennsylvania played a key role in identifying peer organization best practices, which helped shape both short term and long term recommendations.

The Accenture team:

  • Developed and adopted a structured approach to address key engagement gap areas, including responsibilities of an Alumni Relations Council

  • Identified opportunities and strategies for messaging and promotion to create an interface with alumni and volunteers

  • Created online alumni and volunteer information surveys, website content and an initial volunteer event database to address the client’s immediate needs

  • Created a high-level implementation road map, detailing short-term steps and long-term initiatives, as well as measurable goals to assess progress


Accenture provided UNL the tools it needed to effectively engage with alumni and volunteers to help grow the organization and equip it to enter the digital space. This has helped UNL improve its ability to develop global leaders from the youth enrolled in its various programs.

Moving forward, UNL plans to develop alumni and volunteer digital presence by creating specific content and messaging on their website and social media channels. This will integrate with UNL’s upcoming closed online platform, iLead, to streamline communication and provide UNL with the ability to track and recognize its alumni and volunteers. By using these digital tools, UNL will be able to extend its mission through its alumni and volunteer network to continue to grow global leaders of tomorrow.