What we learned by analyzing the attendance at 300 reunions across 100 schools
Yes, we know everyone does alumni reunions. You’re probably doing it too and while you already know that alumni reunions can help you increase alumni engagement, how do you ensure that you maximize this growth?
After helping over 100 schools organize 300+ successful alumni reunions in the past two years, we did a detailed analysis of all this data and came up with actionable insights on what works best in engaging alumni via alumni reunions. Here are the 8 key findings:
1. Encourage attendees to invite others in their network
Using registered alumni to influence other peers in their network to sign-up has proven to be highly effective. There’s a greater chance of more alumni signing-up upon receiving invites from their classmates/friends. However, a key factor here is to ensure that the registration and event-sharing process is easy.
For its Class of ‘88 reunion, Upper St. Clair School District was able to get 90 alumni signed up as a result of rallying by Class Representatives. Read more about how they did it.
2. Invite faculty & staff to your event
Leveraging faculty and staff to influence high alumni turnout at reunions has proven to be an effective technique. Sending out personalized invites to your entire faculty and staff is a practice you might want to follow as this resonates really well with alumni who have been looking forward to reconnecting with their former teachers.
Archbishop McCarthy Alumni Association has hosted three successful 10-year reunion events since 2016 and has seen over 80 attendees each time. Read their success story here.
3. Create a dedicated event page and reach out for registrations early
Ensuring you have a dedicated event page is pivotal to your event’s success. Creating an event page is important because it helps your alumni get an overview of the event you’ve planned. Also, it is always a best practice to reach out to your alumni well in advance, for registrations. Typically we’ve seen schools start reaching out to alumni 6 - 9 months before the reunion.
Upper St. Clair School District’s Alumni Relations Coordinator, Gordon B. Mathews was able to get 40% of their alumni to attend their Class of ‘88 reunion. Read their success story here.
4. Generate buzz on social media
We already know that social media plays a pivotal role in keeping alumni engaged throughout the year. Evidence also suggests that schools have been able to drive higher alumni participation for their reunions with various approaches on social media. While providing updates concerning your reunion to your alumni is a best practice that you should follow, it is also equally important to be creative in your approach. Posting photos from previous reunions and running campaigns that urge your alumni to actively participate are some of the ways via which you can spread the word about your reunion. Here’s a list of 7 tested approaches to promote your reunions on social media.
Here’s how McCarthy Alumni Association grabbed the attention of its alumni by posting yearbook photos on their social media to promote their upcoming reunion:
5. Create an alumni reunion promo video
Alumni reunion promo videos have proven to be one of the most powerful methods to draw alumni attention. Personalization is key when it comes to reaching out to alumni. A personalized invitation video can be highly engaging as compared to your regular email blasts. Here’s all that you can try to make a more personal connection with your alumni:
Shoot your video on-campus
The best location to shoot your reunion promo is none other than your own campus. Shooting the video in multiple locations within your school campus adds a nostalgic factor to it and helps your alumni relate better.
Choose your speakers wisely
Personalize it further by featuring in your video, people who are recognizable and relatable to your alumni. They could be professors, students, or maybe a more diverse set of people who your alumni might feel delighted to hear from.
Ensure maximum reach
Once you’re done creating this video, the challenge lies in maximizing its reach. Ensuring your alumni don’t miss out on this video is integral. Other than sharing it on social media, emails, and encouraging alumni to share it within their networks, try to publicize this video in alumni groups, in order to reach maximum people.
Here’s how Greater Atlanta Christian School used a personalized video to maximize participation for their Alumni Weekend 2018 event.
6. Publish an update in school newsletter/local media
Schools have found success in bringing alumni attention to their reunions by publishing in their newsletter. Even paid advertisements in the local media have resulted in good visibility. This might be highly relevant to you if you have an outdated alumni database and a large majority of your alumni are living in the same vicinity as your school. Other than getting the word out on your upcoming reunion, this can also be seen as an excellent PR activity for your school and can help boost admissions and donations.
North Allegheny Foundation published an article in the local media to announce alumni who would be awarded at their Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala. Check the story here.
8. Ensure the agenda is clearly established
For alumni who might be looking beyond networking opportunities, providing added incentives such as details of speakers attending or activities that would happen during the reunion can help increase event sign-ups.