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Tips for Improving Alumni Engagement for Small Schools

Graduation Cap
Courtesy of MD Duran on Unsplash

The pandemic has disrupted nearly everything about education for schools, alumni engagement included – especially in smaller schools. Students of all ages have sacrificed so much during the pandemic: their regular lifestyles, class schedules, social lives on campus, extracurricular activities, the list goes on and on! After everything students have been through this last year and a half, getting them to engage with your alumni relations department may be more difficult than in previous years. The mechanics of an alum deciding to connect with their alma mater is a delicate situation that requires balance and respect.

Are you looking for a few creative, out of the box tips, tricks, and easy-to-implement strategies to get your small school’s alumni base excited to interact with you? Look no further; in this article, we’ll delve into ways to boost your alumni relations strategy and how to keep the positive engagement trends running in the future. 

The formula is simple: the more alumni families interact with your school, whether at in-person events or online, the more likely the chances of them remaining active alumni in the future. As we adjust to the “new normal” in post-pandemic life, it will take a bit of creativity to interact with alumni families digitally.  

Build an alumni space on your school website

When alumni parents search their alma mater and visit the school website, it will be beneficial to have a landing page built specifically for them. This page can include information about active alumni chapters, fundraising opportunities, social media channels for alumni, even photos of older classes. Contact us here if you’re in need of a website refresh for your school – alumni page included!

Start engagement before graduation 

A strategy to get one foot in the door with alumni families before they even leave your school is to begin interacting with them as alumni before they graduate. This is a tried and true tactic that is already widely-used, but your team can spruce up this method by enacting simple tasks like connecting with older students on LinkedIn or other professional mediums. For younger students, keep in contact with parents and families, or connect with parents on LinkedIn. Or, to go above and beyond, you may start an alumni networking program where older alumni connect with current students and school families through email or online to build bridges between different classes. 

The ticket to getting students to remember your school after graduation and to foster strong relationships throughout the future, is to make that first connection before they step foot off school grounds. 

Non-monetary donations drive

Fundraising is the backbone of many alumni relations strategies. Alumni families are normally strong donors for new school programming, sports events and the like, but considering this year’s circumstances around the pandemic, encouraging alumni and their families to make monetary donations may not be the message you want to use. It’s important to analyze your phrasing closely if you plan on making a monetary ask to your alumni base; make sure the alumni parents don’t feel taken advantage of or think you are out of touch with the times.

A way to unconventionally fundraise without asking for monetary donations is to hold drives for items students in your small school community may need. This can range from food drives for families impacted by COVID-19, to collecting library books, to asking for web-cams for students who may need them in remote learning. The possibilities are endless; alumni families may feel more inclined to donate these items knowing they go directly to current students in need. A smart way to organize these drives is through your school website, either through an alumni landing page or a donation form. We can help you create this content for your school website!

Support alumni small businesses 

Your small school’s relationships with alumni families are mutual; you support your alumni, and the alumni support the school in return. A great way to foster connections with your alumni base is to support their small businesses. Whether it’s purchasing a craft from their Etsy shop or trying out their new restaurant, showing the alum you care about them by supporting their dreams is crucial to nurturing great relationships that last a lifetime. 

Host a social media campaign with a unique hashtag

Engaging on social media is a fantastic way to digitally connect with your alumni family base. This can be as simple as creating a unique hashtag, all the way to building an elaborate campaign to celebrate alumni. One strategy is to dedicate a month or a week out of the year to recognize and honor your alumni families on social media. This can include posting old yearbook photos of clubs and student organizations, following alumni back on all social channels, shouting out alumni who have made a positive impact in their community, recognizing alumni and parents who still work closely with the school, etc. 

It can be a positive experience for alumni and their families to see that their alma mater remembers them and celebrates their victories in their next chapters. Be sure to track the social media analytics in some capacity so you can see which alumni groups are engaging online, and what their trends are year by year. 

Join us for a Lunch & Learn

Having an out-of-date website with broken links, notifications issues and old software can make it hard for students, families, and alumni to navigate. If your team is aiming to boost your alumni engagement for your small school, it would be smart to invest in a website refresh to ensure it’s running as smoothly as possible. 

Register for our Lunch & Learn on Oct. 28 at 1PM ET to learn how to avoid common website mistakes that are hurting your site performance, potentially impacting your alumni networking efforts. 

REGISTER for the Lunch & Learn here!

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