CoBA’s Alumni Chapter is a fast-growing chapter of the CSUSM community, but there is still room to grow
both in terms of member numbers and engagement. This report will summarize our recommendations to
maximize the growth and subsequent participation of all of the CoBA Alumni Chapter’s members. We
propose a three-pronged approach, initially focusing on increased conversion of graduates into chapter
members, then an overall push not only to increase member’s attendance at CoBA events but also their
participation and engagement with the events themselves, and finally the implementation of strategies to
promote long-term excitement amongst the chapter members.
Focus 1: Increased retention of graduates
The biggest challenge faced by CSUSM is a function of its location: despite being in a fantastic and highly
liveable area of San Diego County, it is primarily a “commuter school”. In practice, this means that new
graduates from its business school are less likely to remain in the North County area after graduation,
instead either moving closer to the business hub of downtown San Diego, or elsewhere in the state or
Our team believes this is the main factor that is holding back the growth of the CoBA alumni chapter, and
while little can be done regarding those graduates who move interstate or overseas, it is important to
increase the perceived attractiveness of the alumni chapter for those graduates who do decide to stay in
San Diego, even if they move closer to the city centre. To do this, we propose several additions to the
current program, including:
a) Increasing the number of benefits offered by CoBA to recent CSUSM graduates.
Currently, students receive 2 years of chapter membership for free upon graduating. In addition to
this, we propose that they are also provided with:
i. a ticket for the first paid CoBA event of the calendar year;
ii. a CSUSM CoBA Alumni Chapter decal to display on their car; and
iii. a QR code to download the CoBA Alumni Chapter application on their smartphone.
Fig. 1: The 3 further initial benefits to be offered to CSUSM graduates.
1. Complimentary ticket: we believe the cost of subsidising this ticket will, over time,
be offset by the increased retention of members paying their dues.
The principle of influence by reciprocity aligns with this idea of members reacting
positively to being afforded a complimentary benefit, while the principle of influence
by commitment supports the notion that members will be more likely to remain a
member of the chapter once they have committed to attending at least one event.
2. Decal: besides fostering pride in the school and in being a CSUSM alumnus, the
decal will also serve a practical purpose: attendees arriving to CoBA Alumni events in
a vehicle with an affixed decal will be provided with free parking.
3. App: the app will be developed at low or zero cost through working with CSUSM
Computer Science students as an extra credit option. Its functionality and features
are discussed in further detail below, under Focus 3: Increased long-term
As well as these “signup bonuses”, we recommend the Chapter request that new members “like” the CoBA
Alumni Chapter group on Facebook, which will in turn add them to a database entitling them to a 10%
discount at the university store. This will crucially increase the Chapter’s online presence as well as
fostering university pride through school merchandise purchases.
b) Increase perceived value of Chapter membership to past graduates
We believe that there are CSUSM alumni in the Greater San Diego area who would benefit from Chapter
membership who are either unaware of its existence or unsure of the advantages that would be gained
from joining. We aim to change that by portraying joining and participating in the Chapter as a
worthwhile endeavour, with exposure to like-minded people with diverse business knowledge, numerous
social opportunities, and a real sense of belonging. There are multiple ways we suggest achieving this:
i. Use existing university database information to send out material informing all past
graduates of current CoBA activities and events, many of whom may have fallen out
of touch with the university since graduation;
ii. continued promotion of successful past events such as the Taste for Student Success,
specifically focusing on the social benefits. Many working professionals are familiar
with the difficulty of finding new friends and keeping old ones while juggling a
full-time career, and these events offer a pathway for these graduates to reconnect
with a new social circle - a solution to their issue.
ii. engaging CSUSM media students to attend CoBA events, take high-quality
photographs and video capturing attendees in a fun and relaxed environment, and
post the resulting media on CSUSM social media platforms, taking advantage of the
influence of social proof.
The current membership of CoBA’s Alumni chapter numbers around 500. We see no reason why this
number could not double over a 3-year period with our recommendations, as well as future adaptations.
Focus 2: Increased engagement of members
When looking at the “bigger picture” of alumni loyalty, the focus should be on member engagement just as
much as growth. Simply being a member is not sufficient to be successful - members should actively be
participating and engaging in, and contributing to events run by CoBA. While not everyone has the
charisma of Jim Hamerly, every alumnus will have something to contribute and we envision a Chapter
where this is encouraged.
To maximise this engagement. our team has come up with a loyalty-based reward program to pique the
alumni cohort’s interest and to get them to participate more deeply in all the events that are offered. The
program encompasses a variety of different aspects, all of which are tracked and recorded in a loyalty app.
The app works by setting up each member with a profile, where they can:
● View a calendar of all upcoming CoBA Alumni events at a glance, and RSVP/buy tickets to the paid
● Message other alumni members, view a short bio of every single alumnus, and allow exchange of
approved contact information.
● Record their loyalty points earned from attending events and participating, as follows:
○ 1 point for attending each event
○ Double points earned for buying a ticket and attending paid events
○ Chance to earn bonus points through various means (spinning the Wheel of Fortune,
assisting with events, etc.)
● Redeem their earned points for prizes or benefits, which may include:
○ Tickets to future CoBA events
○ Flippin Pizza voucher
○ Stone Brewing tour & tasting
○ Fallbrook Winery tasting & glass
○ eDriving Defensive Driving course (relevant to CSUSM’s notoriety as a commuter school!)
○ Name carved on a Brick at Kellogg Plaza
○ Sponsorship of a cougar at the San Diego Zoo
○ Season tickets to CSUSM Men's Basketball and Women’s Volleyball home games at the new
● Enter into our proposed Senior Experience raffle electronically
● View up-to-date announcements from the CoBA office
The app also indicates the tier of the program that the member has reached, with each tier being unlocked
as points are earned throughout the year by attending and engaging with events. The tier system is
discussed further under Focus 3: Long term excitement.
Member involvement - volunteering
Outside of the mobile app, we have developed ideas to increase the face-to-face interactions between CoBA
staff and the alumni members. Members may have different time commitments and schedules, but for
those who have more time to involve themselves, the possibility of asking them to commit time to helping
set up, manage, oversee and pack down events is a viable one. They could earn loyalty points and other
special recognition awards for doing so, while also reducing the cost to CoBA of running these events.
Contributing their broad expertise, equipment and knowledge will kill two birds with one stone: it will
increase engagement between these members and the chapter, and will make the events themselves more
The idea of people feeling more attached to objects or things that they have put more time into is a
well-documented phenomenon known as the IKEA effect, and this is a manifestation of that.
Alumni Spotlight - adaptation
The Alumni Spotlight on the CoBA website is a fantastic idea, and we wish to adapt that idea and present it
more visibly. Each month, an alumni member is chosen by the CoBA staff with a particularly interesting,
unique or impressive vocation or skillset, and that person is then showcased at the next appropriate event
with a short presentation and asked to speak about their career or life to the attending group. Not only will
members learn more about each other as a cohort, but this allows for more potential business relationships
and friendships to be formed.
Focus 3: Increased long term excitement
Our loyalty program needs to be unique from others in that it generates legitimate excitement. The events
CoBA hold are fun and engaging, but the difficulty lies in how we can channel the excitement of members
into continuously attending various events. A loyalty program that is easy to use, creative, as well as
exciting, is the key to boosting the overall value of the alumni chapter.
Our plan to generate this excitement stems from a fixed/variable reward system that combines the best of
both worlds. As stated previously, the point system would be fixed by guaranteeing a single point for
attending, or two in the case of paid events. These would be allocated by simply checking in on the app
during the event. However, the aspect of excitement comes from adding the unknown variable of spinning
a virtual wheel for the potential to win more points(total of extra 1-3 pts), or a rare prize of special
recognition from CoBA in the form of free advertisement of their company, product, services, etc. in an
email to all alumni members (limited to one possible winner per event). These earned and bonus points go
towards a tiered status system that creates excitement and desire to continue to climb the ranks. The tiers
are as follows:
Tier 1: 0-10 pts is a “House Cat”
Tier 2: 11-20 pts is a “Wild Cat”
Tier 3: 21-30 pts is a “Jungle Cat”
Tier 4: 31-49 pts is a “Tukwut”
Tier 5: 50+ pts is an “Elite Cougar”
In addition, these tiers come with specific, custom fixed rewards :
Tier 1: 20% off one-time purchase of one item at university store.
Tier 2: Exclusive early access to event information and 15% discount on tickets.
Tier 3: First in line status at annual BBQ
Tier 4: Personal handshake and photo with the Dean holding up a sign that says “Tukwut Pride!” to
be posted on alumni social media.
Tier 5: Personalized congratulations by CoBA and recognition on all forms of social media with
name listed and short bio. Updated car decal issued with “CSUSM Alumni Elite Cougar”
depicted. Priority parking at events. Invitation to CoBA AGM.
Fig. 3: Alumni tier logos.
To ensure continued attendance after reaching the ultimate status of “Elite Cougar” (or any status for that
matter) if the alumnus does not continue to attend events they would lose 2 points per event after lack of
attendance at three consecutive events.
Proposed budget breakdown
The budget would almost entirely go toward the cost of developing and supporting the mobile app.
Additional funds left over can be allocated toward prizes to be earned through the tier system, hiring
photographers and videographers for major events, and subsiding the cost of the complimentary tickets
issued to new members.
A two-handed approach focusing on a) growth and b) engagement is the ideal way to grow the CoBA
Alumni Chapter into a unique, effective and impressive association that alumni are proud to be involved
with. The infrastructure is there, the school pride is there, and the attitude is there - all that remains is to
put our plan into action. We hope that you will take our team’s recommendations on board, and we look
forward to working with you to make the alumni program the best it can possibly be.