How Misericordia University Transitioned To A Virtual Homecoming Celebration Amidst The Pandemic

Like hundreds of institutions adhering to social distancing norms amidst the pandemic, Misericordia University went completely virtual for its Annual Homecoming in 2020. Keeping the health and safety of its community as the utmost priority, the Misericordia Alumni Relations Team planned a series of virtual engagement initiatives throughout the day and also encouraged members to donate in support of their beloved students. The university successfully transitioned to a Virtual Homecoming format, finding creative ways to drive high participation from alumni.

121

attendees

42%

average open rate for the Homecoming 2020 email marketing campaign

William Peace University grand welcome to the Class of 2020 virtually with Almabase

About Misericordia University 

Founded by the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is a private Catholic liberal arts university in Dallas, Pennsylvania with a 19,000+ strong community.  

Misericordia University provides quality education through the core values of mercy, service, justice and hospitality—charisms set forth by the school's founders. The university has been guided by these principles for more than 95 years and is currently ranked among the best national universities in U.S. News and World Report's 2021 edition of Best Colleges after several years of ranking in the best regional north category.

What challenges did Misericordia University face?

COVID-19 made it impossible to have a traditional in-person Homecoming

With strict social distancing measures in place, hosting a traditional in-person Homecoming was out of the question. The university, therefore, needed to find alternative ways to host the flagship event and uplift the spirits of its community.

Decrease in community engagement due to social distancing measures in place

The COVID-19 outbreak severely affected campus meet-ups leaving all in-person events, chapter meetings, and community gatherings cancelled. With all plans being disrupted, the Alumni Relations team at Misericordia University was faced with the challenge of not being able to connect and engage with their alumni. 

Increased need for financial aid due to the pandemic

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, Misericordia University anticipated an increased need for financial aid to be better equipped to support its community during these unprecedented times. As the annual homecoming could not be hosted traditionally this year, the institution had to find a way to maximize fundraising profit potential at the upcoming Virtual Homecoming. 

Limited staff resources

Part of a two-member Alumni Relations team, Mike Gombita - Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement and Lailani Augustine - Director of Alumni Relations/Annual Fund, are the driving forces behind all alumni relations functions at Misericordia University. For a two-member team with over 19,000 constituents to keep engaged during these challenging times was a laborious task.


What was Misericordia University able to achieve after implementing Almabase?

1. Successfully transition from a traditional Homecoming Weekend to a day-long Virtual Homecoming

While Misericordia University was already hosting small-scale virtual events for its alumni throughout the pandemic, the institution had never gone virtual for a flagship event such as Annual Homecoming. The Alumni Relations Team at Misericordia University took on the massive task of transitioning its traditional Alumni Homecoming Weekend into a day-long virtual celebration amidst a pandemic. 

The university set up an event page on its alumni network complete with the schedule of planned activities and exciting prizes.

Check out Misericordia University’s Virtual Homecoming Registration Page on the university’s online alumni platform


The event registration page with a detailed schedule of events planned for the day


‍In addition to a dedicated event page for collecting registrations, Misericordia University also wanted to leverage the big day to make a difference in the lives of current students. The institution made a compelling fundraising appeal and encouraged its community to show support towards students in this time of need. Head over to the ‘Stronger Together - Misericordia Fund’ page created by the university.

Misericordia University crafted a powerful appeal urging donors to create a meaningful impact in the lives of university students and set an example for other potential donors.

2. Keep attendees engaged via interesting virtual events throughout the day

The Alumni Relations Team at Misericordia University wanted to make the 2020 Virtual Homecoming a refreshing experience for all attendees by creating avenues of interaction with former classmates, beloved teachers, and students. With the current state of the world adding to stress and uncertainty for a lot of community members, the institution wanted this flagship event to bring much-needed moments of happiness and relief.

Misericordia University made sure to plan the day well with regular breaks and multiple breakout rooms, creating opportunities for social banter. The university planned a bunch of fun activities to keep attendees engaged throughout the day of the event. From virtual class reunions to virtual talent shows, the Alumni Relations team was meticulous in planning all of it.


Here’s a complete list of virtual events planned throughout the course of the virtual event

In addition to a well-planned itinerary, Misericordia University implemented an end-to-end digital marketing campaign across emails and social media to drive participation to its first Virtual Homecoming. 

Here are some of the highly engaging emails that were sent by the Alumni Relations Team:


Misericordia University announcing the virtual event to all previous Homecoming attendees via email. The email witnessed 20.98% open rate.

Misericordia University hosted creative virtual events such as ‘What's Up MU!’ and ‘Zoom reunion with Misericordia Swimming’ to drive higher participation. Here’s an email with step-by-step instructions to join the virtual event - ‘Zoom reunion with Misericordia Swimming event’. 

                In this video, Mike Gombita, Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement and Heidi Manning, Dean, College of                       Arts and Sciences at Misericordia University share exciting highlights from campus and go through a                                            virtual tour of the new Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Science Center.

Misericordia University kicked off the 2020 Virtual Homecoming by sharing a quick video tutorial on Facebook about making the university’s signature Cougar drink. The video also features a young alum of the university making a special appearance. View the post on Facebook.

3. Drive increased alumni participation via exciting prizes

Misericordia University used giveaways and exciting prizes as a clever hook throughout its marketing communications to motivate constituents to participate. The university used information about the contest prizes across emails and social media to drive attendance. 

The email sent one day prior to the event focused on the exciting prizes - Airpod Pros, a JBL Bluetooth Speaker, and a plethora of gift cards, that were to be made available to members who register to attend one or more of the homecoming events.

Another email sent 3 days prior to the event shared details about additional giveaways for winners of the Smart Phone Trivia and other contests.

The Alumni Relations Team also announced winners of the registration prizes and congratulated them on this celebratory post on Facebook. View the post on Facebook.

Misericordia University continues to empower its community and impact their lives by hosting engaging virtual events round the year with Almabase. Check out Misericordia University’s alumni network.

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