4 Tips and Tricks for Building an Engaging Alumni Newsletter
After graduation, it can be difficult to stay in touch with your sorority or fraternity’s alumni as they pursue careers or graduate school. That’s why having an engaging newsletter is critical to alumni engagement. Your newsletter keeps your alumni brothers or sisters in the loop and interested in your chapter with digestible tidbits of information written by current members. It’s a perfect place to highlight upcoming events, show appreciation for alumni volunteers and donors, and link to your donation page.
That being said, your newsletter is only useful if your members are enticed to read it and click through to your resources. Your alumni likely get tens (if not hundreds) of emails daily, so it’s critical to stand out from the crowd so your message gets across. Let’s explore how to craft an informative and interesting newsletter to boost alumni giving and engagement.
Essential Elements of an Alumni Newsletter
No matter your chapter’s focus, there are several fundamental strategies for developing a winning alumni newsletter that you should know. They are:
- Update contact information: The first step in boosting your newsletter engagement is ensuring your alumni receive it in the first place! That’s why keeping your contact information updated is critical for your success. According to Double the Donation, appending contacts’ email information will keep your database up-to-date, so your communications are successfully delivered to alumni’s current email addresses.
- Segment your newsletter’s recipients: Sending separate messages to alumni groups based on certain qualities is useful for aligning your newsletter with their interests. For example, you might send different versions of your newsletter to first-time donors than you send to returning donors.
- Incorporate your chapter’s branding: Your alumni share a deep connection with your chapter. Be sure to incorporate your chapter’s unique branding to appeal to your alumni’s fond memories of your chapter.
- Prioritize UX: If you’re sending your newsletter over a digital channel such as email, remember to prioritize user-friendliness in your design. Ensure your newsletter is accessible to everyone, mobile-friendly, and intuitively formatted to maximize engagement.
- Keep a consistent schedule: The last thing you want to do is flood your alumni’s inboxes and turn them off from your chapter. Stick with a consistent mailing schedule to stay organized and decide how often you’ll send the newsletters. Most chapters send out newsletters once or twice a month.
- Offer multiple delivery options: While newsletters are widely associated with email, you can offer multiple delivery options to your alumni. Have your alumni pick from options like direct mail or email. They’re more likely to read your newsletter if it’s delivered in a format they prefer.
Also, don’t forget to use your fraternity and sorority management software to collect and store your alumni data securely. Keeping all of your data in one centralized location will help you draft and distribute your newsletters seamlessly. Plus, according to OmegaFi, you can even communicate with alumni through this software, making it a convenient option to deliver your newsletters.
How to Engage Your Alumni Through Your Newsletter
Now that you know the basics of newsletter distribution, let’s discuss how to make an eye-catching deliverable to interest your alumni readers.
1. Tailor your content and user experience to alumni
While you’ll be updating your alumni about your chapter’s current activities, you should still keep a strong focus on the alumni community itself. For example, you might include an alumni spotlight section highlighting a different brother or sister in each issue. Also, remember to highlight alumni-centric events or fundraisers, whether they’re digital, hybrid, or in-person. If you’re referencing any specific alumni, include their graduating class in their title so your readers can easily identify them.
Everything should be created with your alumni in mind, including the user experience. Your newsletter should be a handy resource for your readers to find any relevant information regarding your chapter. If you’re sending your newsletter over a digital channel, include clearly-marked links directly to important pages, such as your donation form or RSVP page.
2. Incorporate eye-catching nonprofit graphic design elements
Part of your newsletter’s appeal is that it’s informationally and visually stimulating. This format will complement your written updates with your graphic design elements. Incorporate all your branded components, such as your color scheme and font, while including photos of your chapter’s members in action. For example, you might include your chapter’s logo on the letterhead of every newsletter so your alumni instantly recognize the organization.
Don’t forget that while your overall branding should remain consistent, you should include new branded elements for upcoming campaigns or events. For instance, you might incorporate holiday-themed graphics into your December newsletter. This will help diversify your visual appearance, keeping your newsletter’s appearance fresh and interesting.
Finally, remember to receive written consent from your photo subjects with a release form to avoid any legal repercussions. Also, avoid using copyrighted images or branded elements that your chapter doesn’t own.
3. Personalize your newsletter
While you should already segment your donors for an extra layer of personalization, focus on personalizing email communications further. Use a mail merge template to input your alumni recipient’s demographic information, such as their name, graduating class, and relationship to your organization. Your alumni will be more likely to take the time to read content that specifically pertains to themselves, so take every opportunity to tailor your content to your alumni.
4. Leverage the subject line
35% of email users click on emails based on the subject line alone. That’s over one-third of your alumni members that you can immediately engage with. So, leverage this opportunity by optimizing your subject lines. Your subject lines should:
- Be snappy and straightforward (40-50 characters)
- Directly address alumni by class or name
- If possible, mention the newsletter’s month for organizational purposes
- Stress the urgency of an upcoming campaign with specific dates
- Tease alumni events by naming speakers, activities, or venues
The subject line is meant to entice your readers to click through to your email, so make it as compelling and informative as possible.
Start the drafting process on the right foot by examining your marketing materials that have performed well and model your next alumni newsletter after them. For instance, if your recipients respond better to puns in the subject line, make an effort to incorporate them into your newsletter rollout.
Once you’ve made your first draft, run it by the rest of your management team to catch any errors or spots for improvement. As long as your newsletter is visually attractive, organized, and personalized, you’ll catch your alumni’s attention month after month.