Alumni associations of different universities and colleges worldwide work to find and implement alumni engagement best practices all the time. Every single alumni office would know that innovation is the key to successful alumni engagement. However, it’s challenging to find new ideas now and then to ensure alumni engagement.
Moreover, the global pandemic has disrupted alumni engagement strategies of educational institutions and increased their burden to maintain lifelong alumni relations. But like always, we have got your back. In this compilation, we have penned down four proven alumni engagement best practices for every institute to accommodate in their upcoming events.
1. Writing Letters To and By Alumni
Who says letter-writing is outdated? In fact, writing letters is the best way to build a bond to date. Concerning alumni relations, writing letters might sound a bit off-track, but in reality, it isn’t. Southwestern University is a live example of the same. The Southwestern University Alumni Association is happily inviting volunteers to write congratulatory letters/notes to the parents/family of recently admitted students. Isn’t it great?
Similarly, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is promoting a campaign named “Write-a-Mountain-Lion” with the support of a joint partnership between its Office of Alumni Relations and the Annual Fund and Enrollment Management. As a part of this campaign, hundreds of alumni wrote 3,000 handwritten letters to incoming students.
It is surreal!
Writing letters to and by alumni is one of the easiest and most proven alumni engagement best practices in recent times. You should try it yourself.
2. Conducting Virtual Happy Hours
To chit-chat for a while, it isn’t necessary to meet in person, right? You can always come online and gossip with your friends. Considering this, Northern Michigan University came up with an excellent idea of conducting virtual happy hours. They designed to organize a fun activity while maintaining the “Super Normalcy” during difficult times. During these virtual happy hours, the alumni are invited to bring along their favourite beverages and join others over Zoom for interaction.
The university planned a few conversation starters like:
- Intro! Everyone shares what their new normal looks like!
- What are your tips for working from home?
- How are you keeping your kids learning during this time?
- Tell us ways you are supporting local businesses.
After getting success by organizing virtual happy hours for only 20 attendees, NMU Alumni Association did the same for alumni board members. And, here is the awesome story of it.
3. Offering Networking Breaks During Virtual Events
Virtual events are one of the popular alumni engagement best practices alumni associations have been implementing for years now. By adding a little zest of its own, the University of Oregon Alumni Association did something unique. The University of Oregon alumni network sprawls globally and comprises business, industry, and community leaders. To allow their former students to get benefits from them, they organized virtual networking sessions worth one hour.
Naming the event “Rooms,” the UOAA created different interest-based rooms. The participants should sign in, enter a room of their interest, either stay in it or move to other rooms. The purpose of giving such networking breaks between virtual events is to foster real-life connections between a lot of Blah-blah-blahs.
The university asked its alumni to hone their networking skills by starting conversations online. From there, they might take it further over a skype call, email interaction, in-person meet-up, or a phone call with the ones they chose during networking breaks.
4. Organizing Sports Gang-ups and Team Activities
While campuses were still open for alumni visits, alumni associations used to organized exciting sporting events. Traditionally, the events of homecoming, college football, and tailgating were a knight in shining armor. Gone are those days of summoning sports team-ups on campus. But, thanks to Penn State University and Colorado State University for giving us an idea of the virtual Tailgate event.
Cornell College showed a ray of hope to the worldwide alumni association by organizing virtual homecoming events last year in October. More and more institutions are moving towards hosting live virtual football match telecasts, radio shows, and much more.
With these ideas of organizing sports gang-ups and team activities, there’s a whole new era of alumni engagement best practices rising up super soon!
The Bottom Line
Agreed, tough times and changing trends have created zillion difficulties to implement alumni engagement best practices for alumni associations. But, it has paved the way for new opportunities, too. Across multiple industry verticals, the trend of virtual events is working dramatically, including alumni relations.
With the help of digital platforms and a technology-driven approach, a comprehensive mass is receiving event experiences compared to in-person events. Alumni offices are stretching every bit to strengthen alumni engagement best practices day and night. And, who knows how many more creative alumni engagement ideas would pop up in the coming years besides these four!