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Member Spotlight: Jim Perrus


Director of Alumni Sponsorships & Business Development at University of Maryland Alumni Association


College Park, Maryland USA



Tell us about your organization and your role. 

I work for the University of Maryland Alumni Association. I oversee multiple facets of the association, including securing corporate partnerships and new acquisitions, ranging from restaurants to mortgage and credit card companies, and alumni membership, travel programs, and engagement programs.

I am a University of Maryland alumnus, and my goal is to build and leave the alumni association in an incredible place with reliable partners and long-term relationships. In ten years, I want to hand it off to my successor as a strong business.

How do you plan to build this partnership legacy during your tenure?

First, I joined SMA as a member. My connection to SMA started with the 2022 Sponsorship Mastery Summit. I acquired so much information from the Summit that I was interested in investing in an SMA Membership. I reviewed the education and training benefits, including the webinars and learning opportunities. Plus, the membership provides multiple seats for our team to access the benefits and resources, which is a big perk for us.

To be at the ground level of partnerships for the alumni association at your alma mater, well, you only have so many times to do that in your life. So, I am going full speed and accumulating high-level sponsorship resources. I want the next 10 years of this job to be the best 10 years of my career.

What partner are you most excited about as you expand your sponsorship portfolio this year?

We have several new partners in 2023, one of which is American Pacific Mortgage. We schedule monthly touch-base meetings via Zoom or in person with all our partners to discuss how the sponsorship is going, share social media statistics, and discuss upcoming deliverables or events. In addition, our team shares ideas on how a partner can get the most out of their sponsorship. These meetings are also ideal for asking the partner how the partnership is going and gathering feedback.

American Pacific Mortgage recently gave us positive and resounding feedback. We are the only partner who schedules monthly touchpoints with them, so they now ask their rights-holder partners to do the same.

What partnership marketing strategies have you implemented at your organization thus far?

The first question I ask a partner or prospect is, “Who is your current demographic, and who are you trying to target?” I then pinpoint their preferred demographic through programming and deliverables in their proposal. We may already have programming in place that is an ideal fit. If we do not, I will work with the partner to create programming that targets their demographic based on their goals and, most importantly, with a customized proposal. This is key. I do not have a media kit I sell to every client, as I work with each partner to customize their agreement.

The second strategy we ramped up was creating more digital advertising deliverables targeting the partners’ established demographics.

What positive surprises have you come across thus far in your role?

I did not expect to collaborate as much as I do with other departments on campus. We all have our agendas, yet there is overlap between the schools. It started with other departments providing me with leads. That elevated to working cross-functionally together and supporting each other.

I have a background in sports and appreciate athletics, so the athletics department and I will often team up with a prospect to build the relationship first and then the business. My athletics colleagues appreciate the collaboration, and it’s a two-way street. They often communicate alumni business development opportunities with me.

Again, this is across the entire university, not just with athletics. I hope this is the case at other universities and organizations, and I encourage everyone in our industry to embrace this cross-functional team atmosphere for business development.

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