10 Awesome Alumni Engagement Ideas to Try

Once a student finishes their education, it is important to keep them involved with their alma mater.

An active alumni base helps keep the school’s tradition alive and motivates current students by showing what they can accomplish by becoming successful graduates.

If you are in charge of organizing auxiliary programs or afterschool events, you may be struggling to come up with innovative ways for your school to stay connected to its former attendees. Even recent graduates can find it difficult to keep involved. A comprehensive alumni program can be beneficial in fostering an engaged alumni network.

In this article, we will go through ten awesome alumni engagement ideas that you can try to implement or use as inspiration for your next event.

 

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Follow Alumni on Social Media

One of the easiest ways your school can directly engage with your alumni is by following them on social media channels.

Having a social media account specifically dedicated to alumni helps build a vibrant community.

Source: Auburn Alumni Association on Facebook

For example, the Auburn Alumni Association Facebook page has 51 thousand followers, which makes it a large forum for people to talk about their experiences, learn about school-related events, and connect with their former classmates.

An online presence also allows schools to stay active participants in their former students’ lives. They can do this by commenting and sharing posts about their alumni’s success stories.

Source: Western Alumni on Instagram

Showing pride in the accomplishments of the people who attended your university will make them feel appreciated and more strongly connected to their alma mater. We recommend working on alumni relations or highlighting specific alumni social gatherings and events into your content strategy.

Wish Alumni a Happy Birthday

Wishing your alumni a happy birthday every year can make them feel special and drive their engagement with your school.

We already covered posting on social media accounts, and that is certainly one way to do it.

However, if your school has a large community and posts often, the post could end up unnoticed by the person it was intended for.

Even if the message does get seen, sending best wishes publicly comes across as a formality, and often does not result in a satisfying response.

What makes a more lasting impression is congratulating them in person, through individualized emails, or even direct messages.

Opting for a more personalized approach shows the alumni that your school puts some effort into remembering them, thereby emphasizing their continuing value to the school.

You can also include gifts like freebies and discount programs, but that is entirely up to the school and its financial capabilities.

Have an Alumni Appreciation Week

There are many great alumni engagement ideas, but organizing an annual alumni appreciation week is one that provides the most room for inventiveness.

You can arrange fun alumni events, give out gifts and awards, publicly recognize your alumni’s accomplishments, and share appreciation messages from the current student body.

And don’t be afraid to get creative.

For their 2022 Alumni Appreciation Week, students of the Yale School of Management made over 200 handwritten letters, the majority of which were mailed to select fellow alumni.

Others were made public in order to express gratitude to the entire alumni community, like in this example:

Source: Yale School of Management

Putting together a memorable alumni appreciation week will stay with your school’s former and current students alike, and the lead-up and aftermath to the event are a great opportunity to increase interest in the school.

Invite Alumni as Guest Speakers

Engaging your successful alumni could also mean hosting smaller events they can take part in as guest speakers. Alumni can be a valuable resource for current students or other young alumni looking for guidance or advice.

To connect with current students or recent graduates, your alumni participants could share their experiences of attending the university.

This can include fun stories of mischief, or serious advice on how to balance work, school, and free time to get the most out of the student lifestyle.

Young, ambitious people would benefit from learning about their predecessors’ career paths and your corporate alumni network can grow.

Hearing from people who are accomplished in their fields prepares students for the obstacles they will have to overcome, as well as reminds them of the rewards of hard work.

It is a great way to motivate and inspire new generations, while also making previous ones feel proud and valued for their contribution.

Organize a Reunion

One more alumni engagement idea that brings graduates back to school grounds is a reunion event.

Reunions serve as a great platform for alumni to reconnect with their friends and former peers, as well as teachers and mentors.

To rekindle memories and positive feelings for the school, the event could also include a university campus tour.

But to make sure they keep coming back, it is as important to make the reunion itself memorable for the attendees.

Instead of opting for a one-day event, your school can dedicate a whole weekend to celebrating its alumni.

For example, Columbia College organized a three-day reunion, starting with a tour of New York City and catching up with their class at the welcome reception.

Source: Columbia College Alumni Association

The following two days were reserved for mini-core lectures, luncheons, and tours, both ending with a party in different locations.

Devoting more time to reunion events and activities makes it more likely that some of them will stay in your alumni’s memories and incentivize them to return for more.

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Plan a Game Night

If you need an idea for a fun activity for your alumni, you should consider planning a game night.

Board games and card games are always a popular choice.

Even if they don’t play these games often, people are usually familiar with them, and they can be played almost anywhere.

But there are various types of games and venues to pick from.

For example, the University of Queensland organized a game night at an arcade bar, with alumni competing in classic games like Mario Kart and Space Invaders.

As of recently, virtual events have also been gaining popularity. A virtual reunion allows more former employees to gather and create a wider alumni network.

Your school can invite alumni to a bingo night, a team-based MapDash challenge, or a multi-game tournament.

With online games, most people will find it more convenient to attend an event from their living room than traveling to a designated location, especially if they live far from your school.

Host a Sports Tournament

An alumni engagement idea that takes the game concept to the next level is hosting a sports tournament.

Because of their highly competitive nature, sports like football and basketball carry more prestige than board and card games.

Therefore, holding a sports tournament will entice more of your school’s alumni to show up as players and audiences alike.

To help you organize the tournament, consider using an event registration software, such as Regpack.

The tool allows alumni to conveniently register for the event online, which in turn helps you prepare better when you know how many people to expect.

You can also track their attendance, and gather data after the event so that the next tournament you hold can be an even bigger success.

No matter the game you choose, a sports tournament will translate to a lot of former students returning to the campus, bringing back fond memories of their college years and creating new ones.

The University of Nottingham has even turned this into a tradition with its Alumni Sports Challenge.

Source: University of Nottingham

Every year students and alumni compete in up to thirty sports, and whoever wins more gets that year’s Challenge title.

To this day, Alumni have 4.5 titles, and students 3.5.

This close score means a lot of people will be excited to see who wins next and show up to support their team, therefore increasing their engagement with the school.

Plan a Family Fun Day

Planning a family fun day is a good way to attract alumni with children, as they usually have less time to attend other school-related events.

Activities like family-friendly scavenger hunts, circus acts, and music performances are great entertainment for attendees of all ages.

Take a look at what Lander University had planned for their Family Weekend:

Parents could take pictures with their children, have lunch together, or take a breather by doing Yoga on the Lawn, which makes for a picnic-like, relaxed atmosphere for them to enjoy.

Your school can also offer a tour of the campus.

It’s a unique opportunity for alumni to tell their kids and spouses stories about the good times they had studying at your school.

This will strengthen their bond with your institution and potentially inspire future generations of students to enroll.

Organize a Charity Event

Alumni engagement ideas can include helping the community, by organizing a charity event.

There are many ways to approach this, depending on your goal and audience.

Your school can throw a fundraising gala dinner, a luncheon with a guest speaker, a walking or running challenge, or a golf tournament.

In most cases, your school’s former students will participate as the target audience.

This is especially true if you are targeting older, more accomplished alumni who have the means to give something back to the community.

On the other hand, schools can also involve alumni as volunteers who help with the organizing.

This way, they will feel helpful and involved with a good cause, even if they don’t have enough money to contribute directly.

Send Handwritten Letters

Engaging alumni can be as simple as sending them handwritten letters.

Physically writing and mailing a letter takes a lot more time and effort than doing it over email.

That is the reason it is generally seen as a more personal and honest gesture, as opposed to a template that was copied and sent to multiple people just to honor the formality.

The contents could show appreciation for something your alumni have contributed to the school or the community.

For example, your school can thank the former student for participating in a donor drive.

This will leave them with a positive impression and encourage them to continue to be involved in your school’s events and activities.

Your school can even go a step further and write to alumni on significant dates, like their birthday, or as congratulations for reaching a milestone in their careers.

 

Conclusion

These ten alumni engagement ideas will help you figure out what your school can do for its next alumni-oriented event.

However, this is not an exhaustive list by any means.

You should look at it as a basis upon which you can build your ideas in line with your school’s goals and capabilities.

Whatever you choose to do, you must make the alumni feel a sense of belonging and show them that your school values their involvement.

If done right, this will ensure a lasting bond between your school and its former students, which is indispensable for building a strong tradition in the future.

About The Author
Asaf Darash
CEO and Founder of Regpack

Asaf, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.

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