The moment they throw their hat in the air and post a diploma pic, they’re alumni. And you shouldn’t be waiting to reach out to young alumni to start a relationship. In fact, it’s smart to start before graduation day.
Communicating with young alums is not entirely different, but there are a few steps that can help you fine-tune your approach. More specifically, there are 3 of them.
Here’s your 3-step strategy to reach young alumni:
1. Not once, not twice, but thrice!
If someone doesn’t want to hear from you, they’ll let you know. The rest of your audience may just need a nudge to get a conversation going. Try a 3-tier approach to engagement with email and texts: First day - email; second day - text; third day - email.
Make sure your messages are conversational and refer to previous messages so alumni don’t think you’re just blasting texts and emails. Be considerate of their time and always ask questions to see if you can help them better understand what your department does.
2. Don’t ask, simply suggest
By now you know that you should never ask for a donation the very first time you reach out to someone. Always build a relationship first. But, when it comes time to ask for gifts, you don’t necessarily have to ask. You can just drop a link.
Pose a question to alums they might find interesting. Then, leave the link in the message body. This passive approach works surprisingly well.
3. Put a face to the cause
Stories are interesting. People don’t care about buildings and programs, they care about the people being helped by an institution. Many schools find volunteer students to text on Giving Days and for fundraisers.
This way, when alumni have questions about the clubs and teams they were involved with when they attended school, the students can give a first-hand account. Alumni respond better when they feel like they’re helping students.
Don’t neglect your young alums!
Alumni engagement is a long-term commitment. So you can’t avoid the younger population just because your metrics show low gift totals.
In a recent webinar with Ruffalo Noel Levitz, Anne Kaplan, Senior Director of Voluntary Support of Education, said, “You have young alumni now who may be in considerable debt, who may not be in a position to give, economically. To say they’re not engaged is kind of a disservice to someone who really cares about their alma mater who can’t afford to or maybe isn’t yet inclined to make charitable gifts. It doesn’t mean you don’t engage them.”
Reach out early and often.