How to Engage Alums Early - When They’re Students!

Jul 13, 2017 - Joe Matar
Often, it’s impossible for recent graduates to donate money when some of them are so far into student loan debt they’re afraid they’ll never get out! Alums don’t believe their small donation will matter in the long run, so they think, why bother? Hounding down alumni for money doesn’t work. But persuading them to volunteer can keep them involved in the meantime. Your alums will remember all the events your university put on when they were students, whether it was within their major, or athletics, or arts and theatre, or Greek life. They’ll remember attending that football game or winter concert, and how it added to their college experience. This is where your opportunity as part of the alumni association comes in. As someone whose main goal is to engage your university’s alums, you’ll want to make them remember why they loved those events so much, and how they can contribute to future events. We’ll discuss how to get your alumni community to genuinely want to give back to your university, without feeling obligated.

Pique alumni interest

Figure out what grads were involved in while they were still enrolled in your university. Did they frequently attend professional development events, like LinkedIn workshops or career fairs? Were they involved in service or philanthropic organizations or clubs? Did they give tours around campus to incoming freshmen? Knowing what your alums care about is vital to the alumni engagement process. If you’re reaching out to an alum who wasn’t a political science major, chances are, they won’t want to be involved with a political science event. So make sure to find out what your alumni connected to, and ask them to participate in events they used to find rewarding (in hopes they would want to give another student a similar experience). Mentoring opportunities are a great way to connect your millennial alumni with upcoming graduates to give them a feel for what life’s like after graduation.

Facilitate strong alumni ties

Holding events after graduation is just as important as inviting alumni to return to your university. These events can be held wherever your alumni are. Here are some alumni event ideas:
  • Happy hours or cocktails
  • Game viewing opportunities
  • Lecture series
  • Local alumni speakers
  • Hikes and bike trips
  • Concerts
  • Sports events
  • Picnics in the park
  • Community service
The benefits of alumni connecting after college are endless. If your alumni care about your university, they’ll care about what happens to their fellow graduates. Who doesn’t love talking about where they lived on campus back in the day?

Connect with alumni globally online

If it’s too difficult to get your alumni to come down to your university or to a happy hour in a nearby town, try engaging them online. Here are some online engagement ideas:
  • Create a LinkedIn group where alumni can join to post jobs and connect
  • Identify the social media sites your alumni are using to engage
  • Host trainings like webinars or tutorials using GoogleHangouts to further educate your alumni
One of the best ways to stay connected with your alumni community is through chat events. These events will allow your alumni to network with other alums on-the-go, or to chat with current students about what they want to do after they graduate.

Let them care

By giving your alumni reasons to care, organizing social events for them and engaging with them online through social media and chat events, your alumni will gain a unique experience and retain a connection to your school. Eventually, as they grow in their own careers, they may find the resources to give back not just with their time, but also financially, as well. Stay connected, and be ready to receive what they can give.