Maintaining relationships with alumni is crucial for colleges and universities. After all, the last thing you want is for students to graduate only never to step foot on campus again!
A vibrant alumni community will enhance your educational institution’s reputation. These individuals will be ecstatic to serve as ambassadors and promote your institution’s achievements, programs, and values. In turn, you’ll be able to recruit new students who are just as proud to attend your school.
Engaged alumni are also much more likely to provide financial support. They understand the valuable educational experience your school provides and will be more willing to support current and future students. All you need is a solid alumni communication strategy to establish meaningful relationships.
An occasional email or regular reunions may remind them of their time at your school. However, that’s not enough to keep them reeled into your institution’s ongoing success. When it comes to engaging alumni, you need innovative approaches to create lasting connections.
To reimagine your approach to alumni engagement, we’ll explore four innovative ideas you can start using today:
- Send eCards on Special Occasions.
- Create Online Alumni Communities.
- Set Up Alumni Mentoring And Volunteer Opportunities.
- Organize Alumni Networking Events.
Fostering a sense of pride, loyalty, and support among graduates starts the moment they walk across the stage. Make sure you go above and beyond to keep them engaged once they move off campus and start the next chapter of their lives.
Send eCards on Special Occasions.
Let your alumni know you’re thinking of them with online greeting cards. From birthdays and holidays to anniversaries, you can show that you care about important days and milestones in their lives.
There’s a handful of reasons we recommend eCards for enhancing alumni relationships. For example, digital greeting cards are:
- Personalized. Send customized messages directly to alumni. Most eCard sites let you customize the message sent with each card, so you can address the recipient by name and personalize your message.
- Interactive and engaging. As explained in eCardWidget’s charity eCards guide, you can add animations that simulate the feeling of opening a real card. Include interactive features like clickable links to make it easy for alumni to engage. Encourage active participation by incorporating appealing designs and multimedia elements. Intuitive platforms will even let you upload your own images, so you can showcase campus photos to create a nostalgic connection.
- Versatile. Whether you want to wish someone a happy birthday or invite them to an alumni mixer, greeting cards are the way to go! Create different collections of eCards for various occasions, like birthdays, holidays, event invitations, and anniversaries. Then, you can select the appropriate card and customize a message each time you reach out to an alumnus.
- Cost-efficient and eco-friendly. Bring your greeting cards into the digital space to cut down on printing and postage costs; that means less waste too. Plus, you won’t have to get their new addresses every time they move.
If eCards sound like the perfect alumni engagement technique, it’s easy to get started. Find an affordable eCard platform to power your greeting cards. Double the Donation’s eCard Websites guide shares that you should look for one with useful features like user-friendly design tools, integrated fundraising capabilities, and multi-language support.
Then, create designs branded to your institution. As mentioned, you can create different collections for holidays, birthdays, event invitations, and more. Then, you can choose a relevant eCard, customize the message, and send it to individuals or relevant alumni groups.
Whether you want to reach out individually or use bulk sending, eCards can quickly level up your alumni outreach!
Create Online Alumni Communities.
Your alumni all have one thing in common: their school pride. When you create online communities, they can use their school pride and shared experiences to connect with former classmates and other alumni.
Use social media groups or dedicate part of your school’s website to create these online communities exclusively for alumni. Upon joining, people can:
- Connect and share updates. An online community enables alumni to share career updates, significant life events, ongoing educational achievements, and involvement in your school’s community. Perfect for networking, online alumni communities encourage graduates to foster meaningful connections and support each other’s journeys.
- Engage in discussions about the school. Alumni can reminisce on the past by sharing photos and exchanging memories. They can also chat about current projects, school fundraisers, and future campus initiatives. Regardless, an online community allows alumni to connect with their shared history and stay connected to your school.
- Easily distribute relevant news and job opportunities. Alumni can share the latest updates about industry trends and job openings. By distributing relevant news and career opportunities, they’ll transform your online alumni community into a hub of valuable information regarding professional growth.
Overall, these virtual spaces help foster ongoing connections and facilitate communication between alumni, regardless of their geographic location. Consider creating some sort of online discussion forum or social media group to test this alumni engagement strategy.
Set Up Alumni Mentoring And Volunteer Opportunities.
Invite alumni to contribute their expertise to their alma mater. As former students at your school, they know your institution better than anyone!
Provide mentoring, volunteer, and school fundraising opportunities where they can share diverse perspectives, industry knowledge, and real-world insights. In turn, you’ll enhance the educational experience for current students and give alumni a chance to make a tangible impact on your institution’s success.
Here’s a rundown of these two types of opportunities:
- Mentorship programs: Connect alumni with current students and recent graduates through mentoring. Alumni can provide guidance, career advice, and other professional support to help students navigate their academic and professional journeys.
- Volunteer opportunities: Allow alumni to give back to your institution by getting involved in campus events, serving as guest speakers, participating in career fairs, or joining advisory committees.
- Fundraising opportunities: Encourage alumni to participate in your fundraising initiatives by engaging in peer-to-peer fundraising and launching birthday fundraisers on your school’s behalf. They’ll be able to put their fundraising skills to use to improve campus life.
By providing valuable opportunities for alumni to lend a hand, your higher education institution can promote alumni involvement and leverage graduates’ knowledge and skills.
Overall, this engagement strategy impacts your institution and its alumni by establishing a mutually-beneficial relationship. Keeping alumni involved via mentoring, volunteering, and fundraising can create lifelong relationships by investing them in your school’s growth and success. Beyond graduation, they’ll continue to contribute and make a difference in your school, which can boost their pride and loyalty to their alma mater.
Organize Alumni Networking Events.
Organize networking events where alumni can meet up, reconnect, and build professional relationships with fellow graduates. These events can bring together alumni from different graduating classes to expand their professional networks and establish meaningful connections. By attending, your alumni can engage, exchange experiences, and explore potential professional opportunities.
Here are different types of events your alumni might enjoy:
- Networking mixers: Host informal mixers where alumni from different graduating classes can connect. This provides the perfect opportunity for alumni to meet up in a relaxed and social setting, exchange business cards, and build professional relationships.
- Alumni Career Fairs: Organize a career fair specifically for alumni. They can explore job opportunities, connect with employers, and network with alumni in desired industries. In turn, you’ll position your school as one that cares about its students’ careers well beyond graduation day.
- Regional or City-Specific Meetups: Encourage alumni living in the same area to connect and share local resources. Organize events ranging from casual coffee meet-ups to more structured networking events, depending on what alumni in that region prefer.
- Alumni Reunion Weekends: Organize an annual alumni weekend where alumni from different graduating classes can visit campus, reconnect, and reminisce. Invite them to a sports game, plan social gatherings, lead campus tours, and offer other special alumni-only activities.
To pull these events together, you’ll need to rely on involvement from faculty, staff, and current students. Their involvement will help create a bridge between your institution and the alumni who attend.
As a bonus, you can leverage your eCard tools to design engaging digital invitations. By personally inviting alumni, they’re much more likely to show up!
Creating a thriving alumni community can contribute substantially to your institution’s ongoing success. Whether you’re in charge of alumni relations for an organization or the entire school, it’s important to forge meaningful connections with graduates.
No matter which ideas you implement, the key to successful alumni engagement is offering diverse and meaningful opportunities that cater to your alumni community’s interests.
Reaching out on special occasions and providing plenty of avenues for involvement means you can communicate that you care about students’ lives post-graduation. In turn, you’ll foster an active alumni network and strengthen your current students’ experiences all at once.