The moment students walk across that stage to accept a diploma, they’re alumni. But as the alumni relations department, you shouldn’t wait for that milestone to start a relationship. In fact, it’s smart to begin engaging with young alumni well before graduation day.
Young alumni have a different perspective and a different list of motivators from folks that have graduated years before. Here’s are some best practices to follow when trying to reach young alumni.
A lot has changed in the last couple of years, and the only way to learn what students think of your institution is to ask them. Alumni surveys are effective for two reasons - they help your staff capture current contact information before a student leaves your campus and they give you ideas for relevant communications to send.
Send out a short survey asking graduates what school updates would interest them and what concerns they might have as they pursue employment or continue their education elsewhere. Once you know what’s on their mind, you’ll know how to better support them in their professional life.
You are building a community, and the best way to do that is to engage your audience with information they care about. Any communication you send should delight the person receiving it.
Segment your audience, and don’t limit your fields to just graduation year. Think of the many groups and interests on your campus to filter updates appropriately.
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.
Ensure 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.
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 the students.
Don’t Neglect Young Alums!
Alumni engagement is a long-term commitment. You can’t avoid the younger population just because your metrics show low gift totals. In an episode of Mongoose’s For Your Institution Live virtual event series Louis Diez, VP of Almabase, had some great advice on supporting alumni and building engagement.
Watch it now!