Our planning process was comprehensive and integrated. Volunteer leaders, individual graduates, external consultants, and WPAOG staff participated. Industry experts reviewed our alumni services, communications services, data analytics capabilities, and infrastructure needs. WPAOG’s Enterprise Risk Management process informs our plan and its execution, and this ten-year plan aligns with USMA’s Strategy and its Campaign Plan.
Goal 1: Serve the Long Gray Line
The human-centered design review of our alumni services suggested that our new or expanded services should focus on moments that matter, that is, on life transitions, visits to West Point, and at other times when graduates, as well as cadets, might reasonably expect WPAOG to be helpful. In addition to this line of effort, we will improve technical services for volunteer leaders, and we will continue to refine and integrate WPAOG’s superb suite of digital and print communications.
Cadets form deep bonds that often endure for a lifetime. WPAOG’s services for graduates maintain connections, facilitate new relationships, and reconnect graduates to West Point. WPAOG will facilitate connections for a variety of purposes. During the next ten years, we are placing emphasis on assisting graduates, as well as cadets, at significant moments in their life journeys. These WPAOG capabilities will enhance graduates’ lives and promote meaningful affinity for West Point.
1.1. Make alumni experiences at West Point meaningful, exciting, and fun. Visits to West Point have deep meaning for returning graduates and their families. Whether a visit is at time of high excitement or solemn reflection, WPAOG will seek to make a graduate’s experience at West Point memorable.
1.1.1. Rockbound Highland Home Program. Continue to develop the popular Grad Insider Tours, leveraging technology such as augmented reality and drone video. Increase awareness of Grad Perks. Continue to refine Grad Pass procedures in coordination with USMA. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.1.2. The Gift Shop. Creatively expand The Gift Shop’s product lines. Develop an opportunity to establish a satellite store on post. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.1.3. Welcome to Herbert Hall! Enhance the information and amenities offered to alumni visiting the alumni center. (VP, Alumni Support and Chief Operating Officer)
1.1.4. Memorial Services Support. Continue WPAOG’s comprehensive support of families returning to West Point for memorial services. Improve integration of services such as memorial articles, assistance to Gold Star families, and memorial opportunities related to planned giving. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.1.5. Reunion 2.0. Given USMA constraints, develop options for Class reunions in accordance with life stages and the interests of the returning grads and their families. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.2. Facilitate alumni access to expertise and other resources within the Long Gray Line. Graduates have high expectations for the Long Gray Line’s network. Furthermore, an implied trust exists among graduates, and research indicates many grads might avail themselves of advice, expertise, and services from fellow graduates. WPAOG will facilitate increased interaction among graduates through WPAOG-provided networking services.
1.2.1. Grads Helping Grads. Establish an online venue or “marketplace” where alumni may request/offer advice, assistance, or services. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.2.2. Transition Navigator. Building on WPAOG’s services for graduates making early, mid, and late career transitions, establish an advisory service addressing various transition needs. Leverage helpful resources in West Point Societies and other service organizations. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.3. Develop services for volunteer leaders. WPAOG will provide volunteer leaders with technology platforms that make it easy for them to organize their Class, Society, or Shared Interest Group membership or activities.
1.3.1. Class Services. In coordination with the Alumni Support Committee, review the needs of class leaders, and test technical solutions. Initially, focus on communications, reunions, and other events such as memorial activities. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.3.2. Society Services. Continue to establish the Sallyport technology platform as WPAOG’s primary solution for West Point Society volunteers to administer membership, event registration, communications tasks, and other activities. Test initiatives to increase participation by younger graduates. Identify ways WPAOG staff might relieve volunteer administrators of some administrative burdens. (VP, Alumni
1.3.3. Services for Shared Interest Groups. Review WPAOG’s Shared Interest Group (SIG) policy and tailor WPAOG support to the mission and magnitude of the SIG. Monitor how graduates are self-organizing to identify alumni interests that might be addressed by a WPAOG-organized effort. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.3.4. WPAOG Alumni Leaders Conference. Plan segments of the conference to advance elements of the 2030 Strategic Plan, discover techniques used by USMA Class, West Point Society, and Parents Club leaders to engage and connect constituents, and continue team building sessions involving USMA Admissions officers, field force members, and other alumni and parent leaders. (VP, Alumni Support)
1.4. Deploy the next generation of WPAOG’s communications services. Develop a ten-year communications master plan with a priority on tailored communications; digital enhancements for West Point magazine; website revitalization to include integration with CRM; participation in social media; and display of equivalent content across multiple platforms. Periodically, review the allocation of resources to communications tasks. Explore options for user-generated content from alumni and cadets. (VP, Communications & Marketing)
1.4.1. WPAOG Website and Social Media. Revitalize the WPAOG website and improve its integration with CRM. Improve functionality supporting information searches and giving to specific needs. Implement automated tagging of content and tracking user activity, integrating this information with CRM to support tailored communications, programmatic decisions, and engagement scoring. Conduct social media operations near (but not necessarily on) the leading edge of information technology advances that show promise. (VP, Communications & Marketing; VP, Alumni Support)
1.4.2. Grad Tracking. Maintain WPAOG’s high-quality database of graduates’ electronic and postal addresses. Additionally, tag a grad’s file to indicate his or her stage in a graduate’s typical life journey (e.g., active duty, career transition, civilian career, retired, etc.). (Chief Operating Officer)
1.4.3. Tailored Communications. Leveraging our Grad Tracking and data analytics, tailor selected communications to alumni based upon their demonstrated or likely interests. Survey alumni to determine their preferred means of communication. Personalize selected communications with individual alumni. (VP, Communications & Marketing; VP, Development)
1.4.4. West Point Magazine. Enhance digital and mobile presentation of content published in West Point magazine. Make visits to digital content more trackable, available, and interactive via linking and technical structural support mechanisms. Review the strategy for using West Point magazine to maintain post-graduation connections with parents of graduates. (VP, Communications & Marketing)
1.4.5. Content Contributors. Explore means to increase the use of cadet and alumni-generated content in WPAOG’s multichannel communications. (VP, Communications & Marketing)
1.4.6. Global West Point. Explore options for graduates to share videos of their experiences and accomplishments at interesting locations around the world. (VP, Alumni Support)
Goal 2: Serve West Point
In 2021, WPAOG will commence a seven-year comprehensive campaign supporting USMA’s academic, physical, military, and character programs as well as WPAOG’s programs. Through alumni activities, we will continue to inspire cadets to become active graduates and will support USMA diversity initiatives. WPAOG will continue to support USMA with professional services such as investment management and construction management, and WPAOG will support the USMA Strategy through an exploratory initiative to revitalize communities adjacent to West Point.
The USMA Strategy states, “Partnering with the West Point Association of Graduates, USMA encourages support of Academy initiatives and Margin of Excellence programs in furthering cadet development through a robust and active alumni network.” The Superintendent’s priority of needs list is the primary instrument for focusing WPAOG’s fundraising. While fundraising is WPAOG’s main effort in our service to West Point, we have designated supporting efforts involving alumni inspiration of cadets, support of USMA diversity, and professional services for USMA. These efforts will help USMA remain the world’s gold standard for leader development.
2.1. Support the Margin of Excellence. By donating to Margin of Excellence needs, alumni make possible academic, physical, military, and character program enhancements the U.S. government is unable to fund or unlikely to fund. These developmental opportunities and facilities go beyond the government-funded core requirements of a Bachelor of Science degree and a second lieutenant’s commission. This Margin of Excellence is important to West Point’s recruiting and development of America’s highly talented, diverse, and motivated young men and women. Annually, WPAOG will seek to increase cash received and pledges, employing a combination of programs such as major giving, annual giving, class giving, parent giving, planned giving, and corporate and foundation grants.
2.1.1. Comprehensive Campaign for West Point. From January 2021 through December 2027, conduct a comprehensive campaign for West Point, achieving goals specified in the Campaign Plan (to be published). (VP, Development)
2.1.2. The West Point Endowment. By 2030, grow assets under WPAOG’s management from more than $400 million (in 2020) to $1 billion. (VP, Development; Chief Financial Officer)
2.1.3. Alumni Giving Percentage. By 2030, grow the annual alumni giving percentage from 36% to 45%. (VP, Development, supported by All VPs)
2.2. Support USMA diversity and inclusion. Continue WPAOG’s commitment to supporting USMA’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, tailoring WPAOG’s support and participation to USMA’s needs. Continue to focus on Margin of Excellence needs, support for annual USMA diversity leadership conferences. Encourage local graduate support and involvement in LEADS (Leadership, Ethics, and Diversity in STEM) events, as well as assistance with USMA’s minority recruiting. (VP, Alumni Support)
2.3. Inspire cadets to become lifelong, active members of the Long Gray Line. Alumni activities with cadets enhance alumni affinity for West Point. The activities also provide cadets with opportunities to learn about the service and camaraderie of West Point’s graduates, thereby inspiring cadets to lifelong relationships with West Point and with their fellow graduates. Alumni activities with cadets at West Point, as well as at locations away from West Point, are opportunities to serve this dual objective in support of USMA’s Strategy.
2.3.1. 50-Year Class Affiliation. In coordination with USMA, enhance the 50-Year Class Affiliation Program, annually reviewing lessons learned and refining the program’s contributions to cadets’ developmental experiences, as well as experiences of participating alumni. (VP, Alumni Support)
2.3.2. WPAOG Awards. In coordination with USMA, annually review the Thayer Award, Nininger Award for Valor at Arms, Distinguished Graduate Awards, and Distinguished Society Awards to maximize their contributions to cadet development and to optimize alumni experience. (VP, Alumni Support)
2.3.3. Class Ring Memorial Program. Annually review the Class Ring Memorial Program to refine the program to support cadets’ education in the history of the Long Gray Line. (VP, Alumni Support)
2.3.4. Parent Engagement Program. Continue to complement USMA’s engagement of cadets’ parents, beginning with R-Day and continuing through graduation to help keep younger graduates connected with WPAOG and with West Point. (Chief Operating Officer)
2.4. Support USMA with professional services. WPAOG has well-established capabilities to manage the design, construction, and maintenance of Margin of Excellence projects. WPAOG’s administrative and logistics services improve the efficiency of USMA activities while relieving staff and faculty of administrative burdens.
2.4.1. Construction Management. In coordination with USMA, manage the design and construction of privately funded major brick-and-mortar projects. (Chief Operating Officer)
2.4.2. Gift Renovation and Maintenance Management. In coordination with USMA, manage the renovation of privately funded structures at West Point, as well as the maintenance of gifts such as statues, plaques, and associated infrastructure. (Chief Operating Officer)
2.4.3. Conference and Event Administration. On a reimbursable basis, continue to perform special event and conference administrative and logistics services for USMA activities. (VP, Alumni Support)
2.4.4. Management of the Endowment and other gift funds. While managing risk, continue to achieve returns among the best in the higher education industry. (Chief Financial Officer)
2.5. Explore the feasibility of a Hudson Valley Project. WPAOG will conduct an initiative to explore strategies to assist in the revitalization of communities adjacent to West Point. This initiative supports USMA’s Strategy and Campaign Plan (“Build Diverse and Effective Teams,” i.e., recruiting; and “Strengthen Partnerships”), in addition to enhancing alumni visits to West Point. (Chief Operating Officer)
Goal 3: Provide for WPAOG’s Future
WPAOG is the primary steward of the Long Gray Line’s financial assets, data, records, infrastructure, and reputation. Priorities include performance assessment, risk management, data security, development of data analytics capabilities, expansion of the alumni center, maintenance of the Long Gray Line’s history, development of management and staff, and maintaining WPAOG’s commitment to diversity.
The Long Gray Line has entrusted much to the care of WPAOG’s professional and volunteer leadership. WPAOG must expertly steward the Long Gray Line’s financial assets, data records, infrastructure, and reputation, to ensure their availability for future generations.
WPAOG is also responsible for stewarding donors’ gifts to give them confidence that their generosity is impactful and appreciated. During the next ten years, WPAOG will continue to be vigilant regarding matters that could adversely affect WPAOG’s reputation.
3.1. Assess mission performance. Providing for the future requires understanding the effectiveness of today’s services. We will continue to improve or implement assessment tools to support program decisions, gauging graduate delight at “moments that matter,” identifying unmet needs, and understanding engagement demographics.
3.1.1. Assessment Instruments. Review and refine WPAOG’s feedback and assessment tools; institutionalize a Net Promoter customer satisfaction and feedback program. Establish a system to receive non-anonymous feedback from alumni. (Chief Operating Officer)
3.1.2. Engagement Scoring. To inform program improvements and tailored communications, improve WPAOG’s data on usage of services, attendance at events, and other indications of engagement and interests. Implement an Engagement Scoring System. (VP, Alumni Support; VP, Development)
3.1.3. Nonprofit Industry Ratings and Awards. Achieve top industry ratings for excellence in financial transparency and accountability, development operations, alumni services, and nonprofit governance as evaluated by organizations such as Guidestar and CASE. Educate graduates about these achievements (Chief Operating Officer; Chief Financial Officer)
3.2. Steward gifts. Encourage donors to develop lifelong relationships with WPAOG; continue to develop WPAOG’s gift stewardship into a best in class program.
3.2.1. Gift Stewardship Capabilities. Further, develop WPAOG’s stewardship capabilities to use multiple channels to show donors how their gifts are enhancing cadets’ experiences and to assure donors that cadets appreciate their gifts. Implement a method for all donors to view their records of gifts. (VP, Development)
3.2.2. Cadet Awareness of Gifts. Based on USMA records of cadet participation in donor-funded programs and activities, inform each cadet about the specific ways private funding has added to his or her individual experience. In coordination with USMA, have cadets communicate their appreciation to donors. (VP, Development)
3.3. Establish a culture of data-informed decision-making. In the next five years, WPAOG will establish a culture of data-informed decision-making, leveraging the products of a data analytics team to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of all WPAOG functions.
3.3.1. Data Science/Analytics Expertise. Establish a base of knowledge and expertise for employing data science/analytics in support of the full spectrum of WPAOG’s operations. (Chief Operating Officer)
3.3.2. Data Analytics Team. Over a five-year period, establish a high-performing data analytics team whose composition and training are tailored to WPAOG’s unique mission needs in all functional areas, to include alumni operations, development operations, and asset management. (Chief Operating Officer)
3.3.3. Data Visualization and Predictive Modeling. Implement software and train staff to conduct data visualization, predictive analysis, and modeling in support of the data analytics program. (Chief Operating Officer; VP, Information Technology)
3.4. Continue to achieve the highest data surety standards. Annually, invest in WPAOG’s data operations, systems, and training programs to achieve and maintain the highest industry standards, minimizing organizational risk and ensuring data is organized, accurate, and accessible for WPAOG operations.
3.4.1. Data Ownership and Accessibility. Periodically, review agreements and contracts with partners, collaborating organizations, and vendors to ensure important information is (1) securely controlled by contractors or vendors and (2) that the data returns to WPAOG control following the termination of agreements or contracts. When possible, partner with service providers operating systems that integrate with WPAOG’s CRM. (Chief Operating Officer; VP, Information Technology)
3.4.2. Data Integrity and Security. Continue to review the state of WPAOG’s technical protective capabilities; annually, budget for monitoring and protection upgrades to WPAOG’s information systems. (VP, Information Technology; Chief Financial Officer)
3.4.3. PCI Compliance. Continue to ensure WPAOG’s data operations are fully compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards including the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Monitor advances in technology and the emergence of potential disruptors that might adversely impact trust, privacy, and transparency in data usage. (VP, Information Technology; Chief Financial Officer)
3.5. Preserve, organize, and display the service record of the Long Gray Line. Review WPAOG’s systems for recording and maintaining biographical information on West Point’s graduates.
3.5.1. The Long Gray Line’s Archives. Develop a master plan for the Long Gray Line’s historical records, i.e., the Register of Graduates, the WPAOG Library, the Cullum Files, Memorial Articles/TAPS, online memory pages, and the Memory Book. (VP, Communications & Marketing; VP, Alumni Support)
3.5.2. Interactive Long Gray Line. Determine the feasibility of an Interactive Long Gray Line display, whereby biographical information on every graduate would be accessible via an interactive touch screen located at the alumni center, as well as online. (Chief Operating Officer; VP, Communications & Marketing)
3.5.3. Brick & Paver Program. Develop a plan for the Brick and Paver program. Integrate this plan into the Herbert Hall Expansion Project planning. (VP, Alumni Support; Chief Operating Officer)
3.6. Expand the Alumni Center. Herbert Hall Expansion Project. Forecasting requirements through 2040, expand the office space in the alumni center.
3.6.1. Design. From 2020-2022, complete the feasibility study and design the expansion project; develop the fundraising plan. (Chief Operating Officer; VP, Development)
3.6.2. Financing. Conduct fundraising and budget use of WPAOG funds. (Chief Operating Officer; VP, Development)
3.6.3. Construction. Build the alumni center expansion. (Chief Operating Officer)
3.7. Manage the development of WPAOG’s professional staff. WPAOG will continue to recruit, develop, and retain highly talented professionals to ensure the continuity of WPAOG’s capabilities well into the future. WPAOG will develop talent and support retention through competitive benefits and pay; objective performance evaluations and rewards for excellence; professional development and succession planning. Managers at all levels will continuously assess WPAOG’s corporate culture, workplace environment, and inclusiveness. (Chief Operating Officer)
3.8. Maintain effective risk management, compliance, and financial controls. WPAOG will steward the Long Gray Line’s financial assets and resources. Enterprise Risk Management will be a priority and will be regularly reviewed by the Board of Directors. Additionally, through annual external audits, WPAOG will continue to employ an effective system of planning and control, ensuring compliance with federal and state tax laws. These processes assure all stakeholders that WPAOG is properly managed and that WPAOG’s funds and those managed for USMA are applied as authorized. WPAOG intends to continue to receive clean annual audit reports. (Chief Financial Officer)