Alumni Engagement: 3 Ways to Keep Former Students Involved
It’s no secret that keeping alumni engaged in the post-pandemic landscape will present unique challenges, considering most events and fundraising efforts have moved online. Fortunately, many educational institutions have risen to meet those challenges and sharpened their abilities to maintain and even increase alumni engagement in the past year.
If you’re wondering what are some key strategies your organization can utilize to keep that momentum going and continue peaking alumni engagement in 2021 - we have got you covered. Let’s dive into some of the best approaches to keep your alumni virtually engaged with your institution going forward this year.
Create Community with Virtual Events
Nothing encourages former students to stay plugged-in with their alma mater like the opportunity to create a community with other alumni. Many people have struggled with a lack of social interaction during the pandemic, and virtual community-building events are the perfect remedy for this situation.
In order to plan a successful virtual event be sure to nail down key logistics beforehand like an event agenda, promotional efforts, and setting up a plan to analyze post-event feedback. Let your alumni know in advance what the event has to offer and make sign-up as seamless as possible by offering quick registration supported on a variety of devices.
When it comes to promoting the event, use multiple channels to maximize your outreach. For example, you could create Facebook pages alongside email invitations to reach alumni no matter how they prefer to communicate. A good way to increase engagement would be to make your promotional efforts interactive. Ask your alumni to RSVP using a hashtag or commenting on a Facebook post - this will ensure better reach and engagement on your social media handles.
Finally, you can create opportunities for post-event feedback to tailor your approach for future events and increase alumni turnout. You want your former students to know that their opinions matter to you, so make sure you ask them to share it! This will also make planning your next event simple since you can build on the feedback and experience that your alumni share.
Check out how various institutions have leveraged the virtual space for innovative online events like virtual happy-hours, book clubs, and flagship events.
Leverage Social Media for Targeted Alumni Outreach
A good social media presence can undoubtedly do wonders for your engagement goals. You likely already have a social media strategy in place, but how tailored is it to empower alumni to interact with one another and the institution? A simple way to get alumni engaged is to interact with their posts and to invite them to interact with yours!
One option is to create content that invites alumni to post photos of them at college events or even happy memories from their time at the school, college, or university. This is a great method to evoke nostalgia in your alumni and encourage them to remember the positive impact that your institution had on their academic experience.
You can even personalize these calls-to-action by tailoring them to specific programs or organizations involved within your school. For example, you could ask all journalism students to post a memory of why they chose to pursue journalism - or maybe ask all of the students involved in your athletics program to post a photo of their team. These specific calls-to-action are more likely to fetch responses from the targeted group of alumni.
Ensure social media calls-to-action remain engaging and personal by applauding donor efforts and the impact their gifts have on opportunities for future students. You can even share narratives of these impact stories by showcasing the effect their donations have made on a particular student or program. This is a great way to remind them that they are a part of the good change which will surely translate to donor engagement and retention.
Finally, you can encourage peer-to-peer giving campaigns through social media, so that alumni feel more directly involved with their community fundraising. By encouraging students to fundraise directly with their peers, you ensure an organic giving environment that fosters the sense of community that many alumni might associate with your school - making it a win for everyone involved!
Engage Alumni with Matching Gift Fundraising Opportunities
When it comes to finding new ways to keep alumni engaged with your giving campaigns, matching gifts is a valuable giving option to consider. Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy in which companies financially match the individual donations their employees make to charitable organizations - sometimes even at a 2:1, 3:1, and even 4:1 ratio.
Donors love to discover their eligibility for these programs as it allows them to instantly double the impact their donation can have on causes they care about, without having to reach back into their wallets. Informing donors of their eligibility can encourage higher donations; 84% of donors are more likely to give a donation in the first place if they know their gift will be matched and 1 in 3 donors indicate that they would donate a larger amount if their gift will be matched.
Many donors are actually unaware that they qualify for a matching gift program - in fact, 78% of match-eligible donors don’t know about their employer’s matching gift program. That’s why we recommend marketing matching gifts to your former students to help them discover eligibility and submit their matching request. This is a great way to add value to their donation experience while boosting revenue for your fundraising campaign. You can utilize a variety of avenues for this outreach, such as on a “Ways-to-Give” page, via social media, and through email outreach.
Moving forward into 2021 with these alumni engagement strategies in your toolbox, you can ensure your alumni remain not only plugged-in, but also well engaged, which is sure to reflect in your fundraising campaigns.
About the Author
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs