Alumni Engagement is a powerful tool. Beyond being a fantastic resource for collecting donations, Alumni Engagement helps your past, present, and future students stay connected both with each other and with your institution. Did you know that 93% of alumni organizations choose not to offer their alumni any benefits? What is even sadder is that 82% of alumni professionals estimate their alumni would rate their gifts or services as having little or no value. We know that alumni organizations hold immense value, and yours is no different.
Building and maintaining meaningful relationships with alumni start before they depart your institution. You interact with students at multiple points throughout their lifetime, and these interactions can have strong nostalgic effects as they move on to the next chapter of their lives. Alumni provide employment opportunities, mentorship, and direct access to funds through fundraising and donation opportunities.
Whether you already have an excellent alumni program or yours needs a little refresh, check out these four ways to improve alumni engagement, build and strengthen your alumni relationships, and create an inclusive and supportive network for past, present, and future students.
Alumni Program Engagement Fast Facts
Before we get started, these are some fast facts you need to know as you begin shaping your alumni engagement program.
- 87% of potential donors would opt out if the checkout process were too difficult.
- 69% of associations cite that their biggest challenge to growing their membership is the perceived lack of value by members of the organization.
- Only 44% of organizations send a physical welcome kit.
- 39% of Millennials report that they don’t join or engage in an organization they like because it requires a fee, and 34% believe the sign-up process takes too long.
- 27% of alumni organizations do not track or know their current alumni opt-out rates
- Only 19% of alumni state that their organization has made them feel special.
Now that you have an idea of where both students and organizations are, we can create new and exciting ways to make alumni engagement valuable for both alumni and organizations.
Pay it Forward
Give your alumni something to talk about with a pay it forward campaign. Randomly covering the cost of 1 or more of your alumni members is a great way to create a positive buzz throughout your program. Paying it forward allows you to redistribute membership donations and funds to your alumni directly.
Paying it forward shows past, present, and future memberships that alumni participation is so important and valued within your organization that you are willing to extend a helping hand to alumni who may need assistance as they consider joining your alumni program.
If you cannot give a year-long membership, you can also consider comping the cost for future alumni events like football games, networking events, and happy hours. It feels good to do good, so spread some cheer and pay it forward.
Invest in Some Cool Alumni Events
Did you know that 72% of donors and members often toss out their physical forms of recognition like labels and other token gifts? 90% of alumni members prefer personal calls, letters, and special events. And honestly, we get it. How many Koozies can one person possibly manage from the same organization? However, swag bags aren’t a total lost cause.
Alumni events are a great way to get face time with your current and prospective members. Baseball games, basketball games, happy hours, and even coordinated domestic and international trips are all one-of-a-kind experiences your members are seeking.
These events are a fun opportunity to connect and blow off steam and also great networking opportunities. According to VAESE, nearly 78% of alumni organizations report their Networking Events are either “Very” or “Somewhat” popular career services benefit.
So yes, you can still get the kooky Koozie but make sure it has a fun memory attached to it for your members to treasure dearly.
Give Them a Shoutout
Your alumni are doing incredible things in their respective fields, and you helped make those amazing things possible by providing a structure that breeds success. Of course, you can’t take all of the credit. Your alumni are composed of an amazing group of people who were bound to do great. Give your alumni a shoutout on your social pages, email lists, or any podcasts or broadcasting networks you use.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to fit shoutouts into your content schedule, consider setting up a “Member of the Day” to highlight each month. You can ask the member of your choosing to share their name, company, role, and any fun facts that they would like to share.
Shoutouts are a great way to get your members to share with their networks, and it feels good to be recognized for your hard work. If you cannot shout out individual members, consider giving social praise to companies and organizations that employ one or more of your alumni.
Assign a Personal Point of Contact
With everything so digital these days, talking to a person is a kind of a thing of the past — a thing we miss from time to time. Assigning a personal point of contact for your current and prospective alumni members to contact when they have a question or request can set your organization apart.
Assigning a personal point of contact to handle questions, concerns, and requests can help alleviate some of the frustration of being a part of an organization. When a member has a quick question and needs a fast answer, searching through your alumni organization’s webpage isn’t going to cut it. Sometimes information is not updated as quickly via social, email, or the web and can leave gaps in knowledge for members and prospective members.
Your point of contact can be a current member or staff member who is your go-to person when anyone has a question. The comfort of knowing that if an alumni has questions or concerns can be helpful in encouraging those on the fence about joining your organization may sway them.
Looking for more great tips on improving alumni engagement? Check out our updated blog post with 8 Best Practices For Driving Stronger Alumni Engagement.
And if you’re actively searching for an alumni engagement tool to manage your alumni communications and drive donation success, we can help. Our SocialToaster platform has been the chosen alumni engagement tool for hundreds of Universities. Learn more and schedule a demo today.