Senior alumni, defined as those in or approaching retirement, are a crucial group to engage because they usually have more time and expertise to bring to their activities. Senior alumni have developed specific interests and preferences that need to be understood and addressed in communications and when planning programs. Senior alumni athletes also have a rich perspective on sports and may be dealing with specific effects of having been an athlete including physical issues. Here are some strategies for connecting with senior alumni (and some might appeal to younger alumni as well):
- Nostalgia and Heritage Events: Organize events that evoke nostalgia and celebrate the history of sports and athletes at your institution. Reunions and gatherings that reconnect senior alumni with their past experiences can spark treasured memories and connections.
- Printed Newsletter: Many senior alumni prefer traditional forms of communication. Either once or twice a year, send out a special edition printed newsletter with updates, stories, and photos that allow them to reminisce. Alumni athletes probably want to hear about teams and where teammates are today from the athletics department so make sure to tailor the content to them. (They will get institutional news from sources that are shared with all alumni.)
- Lifelong Learning Opportunities: Offer lectures, seminars, or workshops on topics requested by alumni athletes by coaches, faculty or alumni. Lifelong learning opportunities can reignite a love for learning and a renewed connection to the institution.
- Personalized Communications: As with all alumni segments, demonstrate that alumni are appreciated individually with personalized messages, acknowledging contributions and highlighting opportunities for their continued engagement with the institution.
- Oral History Projects: Record and document the stories, experiences, and memories of alumni as athletes including great moments from when they were on a team. These narratives can contribute to preserving the institution’s history.
- Storytelling Events: Host events where alumni can share their personal stories and experiences including how being an athlete affected their experience on campus. This can foster a sense of connection and allow them to contribute to the community.
- Milestone Celebrations: Working with alumni athletes provides more opportunities to celebrate milestones in the lives of alumni and in team history, such as anniversaries of team founding or team victories. Organizing a shared 50th or 60th anniversary of a team founding community.
- Social Events with Family Focus: Plan family-friendly events related to sports that allow senior alumni to attend with their children and grandchildren, creating a multi-generational experience. Remember to do some marketing for potential students.
Engaging senior alumni is about providing meaningful opportunities that align with their preferences and life stage, honoring their legacy, and appreciating their contributions. Regular feedback and communication will help you tailor your strategies to engage this important group of alumni.
Up next: 8 more ideas for engaging senior alumni athletes!