Staff Registration and Access to Oxford Alumni Online

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Author(s): Dan Keyworth, Associate Director – Annual Programmes and DARS


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Content Last Modified: 21 March 2014


The use of the Blackbaud Internet Solutions (BBIS) login area within DARS is primarily focused on the alumnus and student experience, and is publicly named Oxford Alumni Online (OAO). The BBIS Terms of Conditions were updated in 2013, however, to enable Participants also to grant login area access to staff-members where desirable.

Providing access to staff-members does have several implications for processes, communications and resourcing, and therefore it is important to follow the correct steps if you wish to provide access to Oxford Alumni Online for your staff.

Overview of OAO registration and access

Registration process

This is the process when an alumnus registers for an account on any Internet Solutions website:

  1. An alumnus or student fills in the registration form (see screenshot 1).
  2. When they click submit, a new Internet Solutions account is created in DARS. At the same time, a confirmation email is sent to the registrant, thanking them for registering.
  3. The details from the registration form (the transaction) are then passed to the Web transactions area of DARS. In the following days a member of the DARS Support Centre will open the transaction and try to identify which DARS constituent the registrant is.
  4. Once the match is made the transaction is processed, linking the Internet Solutions account with the staff-member’s constituent record.
  5. The following day the registrant receives an email welcoming them to Oxford Alumni Online (see screenshot 2).

Data for matching

With over half a million constituents on DARS and several hundred registrants to process in some weeks, steps 3 and 4 above are particularly complex and can be time-intensive, as a correct match between the registrant and constituent record is essential to:

  • Ensuring each user is given appropriate access permissions
  • Preventing one user impersonating another
  • Preventing one constituent’s data being accidentally shared with another.

If no match is found then the Support Centre will need to ask for additional information from the registrant. In the case of alumni, it may also involve verifying any educational information provided with Degree Conferrals. This process can be quite time-consuming, and so may result in a long delay before the registrant is able to utilise the benefits of Oxford Alumni Online. It is therefore vital that enough information is (a) available on the constituent record and (b) collected via the registration form, in order to allow an efficient and accurate match to be made.

Communications, roles and access

The standard registration form, confirmation email and welcome email templates all contain wording and design elements that are targeted at alumni and students. These therefore ideally need to be adapted for other audiences, such as staff registrants.

For each type of user, the College or Department needs to decide which logged-in pages they should be permitted to access (within the boundaries of the BBIS Terms and Conditions). In some instances, new BBIS system roles may need to be developed to accommodate these permissions, via a request to the DARS Helpdesk, with clear queryable business rules underpinning them. Any new roles must then be thoroughly tested and applied to the pages where access is granted.

Process for staff registration


In order to make the staff registration process as successful – and smooth – as possible in light of the above parameters, the following requirements apply if a College or Department wishes to grant Oxford Alumni Online access to its staff.

  1. Once confirmed as desired, please raise a DARS Helpdesk incident so that the DARS Support Centre can assist with the process if/as necessary (and monitor the incoming staff registrations).
  2. UsefulInfo.jpg Note: Please include the name and Lookup ID of the constituent group(s) which exclusively contain your Participant’s staff as members, as we will require this identifying characteristic in order to establish their role access. It is fine to divide these memberships across several Group records (in which case please provide all qualifying group names and IDs), if for example you maintain separate distinguishing lists for Fellows, lecturers, administrative staff etc in DARS.

  3. If a staff-member should be permitted to access different areas than alumni, then this will require different system roles to be created. For this reason, we recommend that staff be provided the same access as alumni – so that their system roles are already created by default.

  4. One staff registration webpage is provided on the DARS website for all Participants using BBIS: www.darscentral.ox.ac.uk/OAOforstaff. Using a standard form specifically designed for staff helps to ensure that the correct registration data is captured to facilitate efficient registration; it also enables the immediate confirmation email to be tailored for staff (rather than alumni).

  5. As with the DARS Login page, this OAO staff registration webpage will only be accessible from inside the collegiate University network (including the overseas offices), in order to try to prevent usage by non-staff registrants.

  6. Direct links to this staff registration page should not be provided on the Participant’s own BBIS website, nor should alternative registration pages be published, as this could otherwise result in (a) other audiences such as alumni and students using this form when inside the collegiate University network (whereas it is specifically designed for staff) and/or (b) some staff registering before they have had a constituent record created for them in DARS. Where possible, staff should be informed not to register on the standard registration page for alumni and students.

  7. Each Participant may, however, put wording and a link on their standard alumni registration page to redirect staff to contact their own Development Office directly if they wish to register. It is expected that most staff would be prompted to register for Oxford Alumni Online, if at all, as a result of more direct means such as internal email or print communications. Therefore the number of enquiries arising from staff-members’ own browsing should be relatively low.

  8. Except in extraordinary circumstances to be agreed with the DARS Support Centre in advance, OAO access should only be granted to the following categories of staff:
    • Fellows and other academic staff
    • Development, alumni relations, events and communications staff
    • College/Department Officers and senior administrators
    Access should not ordinarily be granted to any other categories of administrative or services staff, unless they are simultaneously alumni or students of the University (in which case they may use the standard registration form).
  9. UsefulInfo.jpg Note: The Participant is responsible for determining whether former staff in each of these categories should be able to retain their OAO access upon leaving the College or Department.

  10. Participants may only send a link to the OAO staff registration page to any staff member after a constituent record has been confirmed as present for that person. If no record exists, then the College or Department is responsible for creating that new record and populating it with the correct data. All constituent records must contain at least the following verified information:
    • Title, First name, Surname and Nickname
    • Staff constituency code with start date
    • Date of birth
    • Group membership of one or more constituent groups specifically for your Participant’s staff
    • Email address and Address (these can be Business-Main details)
    • Employee/employer relationship to the College or Department (primary or non-primary).
    UsefulInfo.jpg Note: Where the creation of a DARS record entails the use of personal data not in the public domain and not otherwise covered by the staff-member’s employment contract with the Participant, then that individual’s consent to store their information in DARS must be obtained. See www.alumni.ox.ac.uk/data_protection for how data may be held and used in DARS.

  11. When sending the registration information to any staff-member, you must include the staff-member’s individual DARS Lookup ID (8-********), and this must be kept confidential from other individuals. We recommend doing so by creating the correspondence as a letter or Marketing Effort within DARS and including the Lookup ID as a merge field within that communication. The staff-member will require this ID when registering.

  12. Many BBIS websites are currently tailored to communicate to alumni and students. If a Participant wishes to change this so that text and signposting caters to staff as well, then the College or Department will need to make those changes directly.


If you have any questions about the above processes, or if you would like to provide access to your staff to Oxford Alumni Online, then please contact the DARS Helpdesk.

Screenshot 1: Alumni user registration form

"Screenshot showing the alumni user regsitration form."

Screenshot 2: Alumni welcome email (for processed registrations)

"Screenshot showing the alumni welcome email for processed registrations."

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