6 strategies for increasing engagement from young alumni
If you’re someone handling alumni engagement for your school, you obviously know that engaging recent graduates is one of the most challenging aspects. So, before diving right in, let’s take a closer look at why young alumni need to be engaged and its long-term impact.
Why is it important to engage young alumni?
Young alumni have the potential to turn into future major donors but, it is crucial that they be approached the right way. Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first donation to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, was at the age of 23 and the amount was $5. Since then, he has donated close to $1.8 billion to support research, teaching and financial aid at the university.
Yep, that’s accurate.
Why young alumni should be approached differently in comparison to older alumni?
Chances are this segment of your alumni population won’t respond to your fundraising asks for the next few years. They are just starting a career and personal financial problems such as paying off student loans or relocating to a new city for college are likely to get prioritized over donating to or engaging with their alma mater.
While young alumni may not be the biggest contributors over the next few years, they can be of great help to your school by offering you their valuable time, in the form of volunteer work and internships.
Here’s a look at the 6 most effective strategies employed by schools to engage their young alumni.
1. A mobile-responsive alumni website
While this is something that is recommended irrespective of whether or not your school is catering to young alumni, having a responsive alumni website is especially great for capturing the attention of the younger generation. As the younger generation is more inclined towards using mobile devices, being able to easily access all the website and its resources on their devices helps provide more opportunities for them to engage with their alma mater.
Take a look at Nicholls State University’s up-to-date and easily accessible mobile-friendly website below.
2. Value in the form of workshops, jobs, and networking events
As recent graduates, your alumni already have a lot to worry about. The key to building a lasting relationship is to address these issues and provide them with valuable support. This could be in the form of workshops, job prospects, mentorships, social networking mixers, or even emotional support.
3. Alumni surveys
A time-tested technique to finding out what your young alumni would be most interested in, alumni surveys are great at saving time and effort. Creating a short survey asking alumni what they would like to hear about from their alma mater is an effective way of grabbing attention and delivering value. There are various tools such as Typeform and Survey Monkey that can help you create short surveys. For example, College of Idaho took a short survey which revealed ‘Financial Planning’ as the most pressing concern for a majority of young alumni. Based on the results of this survey, the college organized a free workshop on Saving Money & Paying Off Debts, as a way to support its young alumni. Read College of Idaho’s full story here.
4. Targeted email campaigns
Instead of the usual marketing email blasts, focused emails targeted at specific segments of alumni are bound to yield better results. The most effective way to keep young alumni engaged with emails is to provide them with consistent value, right from the start. If you are trying to engage alumni who recently graduated, targeting them with emails that showcase relevant job opportunities is the best way to do it.
Take a look at how T. Howard Foundation, a non-profit organization based out of Silver Spring, Maryland, shares job opportunities with its young alumni via emails.
5. Creative use of social media
According to a recent study published by Broadband Search, 79% of college graduates use at least one social media site.
Social media is a great tool for engaging young alumni not just because of its high accessibility and adaptability but also because of the flexibility it provides. There is no limit to how creative you can get and that’s what resonates the most with young alumni. Incorporating more video content and trying to create campaigns that urge alumni to take action are ideal components of a great social media strategy. Here’s how William Peace University drew the attention of its young alumni and got them talking about their upcoming reunion.
6. Focus on in-person interaction
While having a digital engagement strategy in place is pivotal, completely depending on it is not recommended. In-person interaction is a fundamental part of fostering lasting relationships with young alumni. Here’s how our customer, Charlotte Christian School got this right.
As a way of extending support to young alumni, Charlotte Christian school sent out a video featuring beloved teachers wishing alumni good luck ahead of their exams and conveying to them how much they care. The video also acts as a special appeal for alumni to come back to school for a wonderful time with their teachers and friends.