It’s clear that when students graduate, their relationship with your school changes. Many won’t look back, especially if the only thing they receive from their alma mater are donation requests.
On the other hand, engaged alumni can act as walking and talking advertisements for your school, thus contributing to its long-term success and profitability.
Therefore, school principals and administrators should find ways to keep their private school alumni engagement high.
Here are six ways to do so.
Share Relevant Content With Your Alumni
If they want to keep their graduates engaged, private schools should look beyond donation campaigns and share relevant content with them on a continuous basis.
In other words, your alumni will be more likely to advertise your school and participate in different alumni programs, including fundraisers, if they feel they’re still getting something valuable in return after they graduate.
So, how can your school share relevant content that alumni will appreciate?
Well, you can start by providing resources they might find valuable in their after-school life, such as educational guides, articles, webinars, or videos on different topics relevant to them, which will depend on your school’s type and academic level.
For instance, graduates might be interested in how they can create a great CV and cover letter or how to take advantage of professional networking opportunities through the alumni career support network, like the one shown here.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t neglect your alumni’s accomplishments.
Use their stories and testimonials to both showcase your school as a successful educational brand and keep those alumni and their former classmates engaged on a personal level.
As Chris Lang at Digistorm writes:
Your alumni are out there doing amazing things. Keeping track of and calling out their achievements will help position your school as a destination for successful people and will also give them a little exposure in return.
Therefore, your school should focus on sharing different types of relevant content your alumni will find valuable, both in a practical and personal sense, which will keep them engaged and ready to participate in different alumni programs.
Design a Website for Your Alumni
Of course, having relevant content for your private school’s former students wouldn’t do much if they can’t find it, so designing an alumni website is a great way to keep their engagement high.
Of course, such a website or webpage should be built into and easily found on your school’s website.
An alumni website will keep your graduates in the loop regarding important announcements and events that would interest them, such as reunions or career fairs.
Here’s an example from Mater Dei High School in California:
Source: Mater Dei High School
As you can see, their alumni are immediately called to action, whether to donate, get involved or check when their class reunion will be held.
As discussed in the previous section, today’s alumni engagement strategies are all about providing continued value to your former students, and an alumni website is where you can post all the relevant content we mentioned and more.
Of course, it’s also a place to announce all alumni-related events and establish your alumni community or network.
To do that, you’ll need to collect their contact information, and the best way to do that is lead magnets—things they will find interesting enough to give their email address, such as free tickets to your school’s sports events, plays, musicals, festivals, etc.
An alumni website is also a great place to sell tickets for such events to raise funds for your school or enable former students to make donations for various causes.
To do that, you need to provide your alumni with an easy and secure online registration and payment system, such as Regpack.
As you can see, Regpack offers more competitive payment processing rates than traditional donation systems, and you can also use it for easy registration and payment of after-school programs and more.
Overall, a well-designed alumni website acts as a central hub from which all your interactions with former students start, keeps them informed, and allows them to get involved, all of which will keep their engagement high.
Engage With Your Alumni on Social Media
Naturally, an alumni website is not the only place where schools should share their content and endeavor to engage with their alumni.
Instead, they should encourage their graduates to interact with them on the school’s social media channels.
So, what social media should your school pick to engage with its graduates and prompt them to respond?
Well, you should first do some research to find out which social media your graduates are most active on and focus your alumni marketing efforts on those.
For instance, Facebook and Twitter are great for posting engaging short-form content, sharing relevant links, asking alumni questions, and responding to their answers.
Therefore, having a dedicated alumni page where they can find your school is a great way to build an active alumni community, provided your school regularly posts on them.
However, there are also less obvious choices that could keep alumni engaged with their alma mater by providing continuing value to them, like LinkedIn.
As a platform designed to support professional networking, it can be used to find your graduates who want to connect with their former classmates and companies they work for, thus expanding their employment opportunities, like in this example.
Considering that 79% of job seekers are likely to search for their job on social media, this can be a great way to help them do that.
Last but not least, Instagram, as the most visual of social media, can be very useful for reminding your former students of the good times they had in school by sharing travel-back-in-time photos, as well as future projects they could be involved in.
Overall, engaging with your alumni on one or more social media channels can be a great marketing tool to provide content that has practical or emotional value for them, thus keeping their engagement high.
Reach Out to Your Alumni Using Email
Even if your alumni website is full of great content and your school is active on the right social media, there’s still a chance graduates will not engage with your school, as those communications do not target them personally.
Therefore, reaching out to your alumni using personalized emails (e.g., mentioning their name, year of graduation, field of study, etc.) is more likely to prompt them to open it.
Likewise, including clear calls to action will motivate them to engage with your school further, either by responding or over other alumni marketing channels.
Of course, writing great alumni reach-out emails is an art in and of itself, meaning that their timing, subject line, and wording should be just right.
For instance, if you’re writing the first email to graduates, be aware that it will set the tone for all later ones.
In other words, if they don’t open or respond to it, that will limit the email list you’re trying to compile and use to keep alumni engaged in the future.
Of course, there are professionals that can help you create such emails and run your alumni marketing campaigns, like Activate Alumni.
Source: Activate Alumni
Generally speaking, you should make sure that your alumni email marketing is not just about what’s in it for your school, such as asking for a donation, but that they clearly state how your former students will benefit from interacting with their alma mater.
Similar to your website, these can be free tickets to school events, invitations to participate in career-building and professional networking conferences or seminars, opportunities to get in touch with their classmates, view back-in-the-day photos or videos, or receive interesting newsletters.
Overall, the emails you use to reach out to alumni should be targeted and personalized, feature relevant content, and contain clear calls to action, as that increases the likelihood of your graduates interacting with your school and staying engaged.
Invite Your Alumni Back to School
Inviting your alumni back to school can be invaluable in keeping their engagement high.
In other words, encouraging graduates to return to their old stomping grounds and participate in various in-person events can help your school build a strong connection with them and motivate them to get involved.
When your alumni visit their old school and, for example, talk to their former teachers, that will bring back memories of the place that was their second home for years, which can be a real game-changer when it comes to their engagement.
So, what would compel your alumni to come back?
That again will revolve around the value they perceive they’ll get out of it, meaning it can be a homecoming game, reunion weekend, career fair, alumni networking event, or a famous alumnus speaking at your school.
Likewise, as in the example below, you can call your successful graduates to receive a distinguished alumni award for their achievements and call other former students to attend.
The awards shown in this photo were given during the reunion weekend, allowing the alumni to reconnect with their former classmates and teachers and meet new students and staff members.
Such events can also center around, for instance, a celebration of special classes or anniversaries, artist performances, or live faculty lectures.
Inviting your alumni to attend can help your school build or reaffirm its strong connection with them.
So, although your school can do a lot to engage its former students online, those efforts simply can’t replace the value of face-to-face interactions in well-known surroundings, which are often crucial for keeping former graduates involved.
Ask Your Alumni to Fill Out Surveys
Asking your alumni to fill out a short, well-designed survey from time to time is a great way to show them they’re still on your mind.
They help you understand what the alumni would be interested in, which is essential for keeping their engagement high.
As Mark W. Jones, an alumni engagement consultant, writes:
Alumni must be made to feel like insiders and be assured they are important members of the community—they must believe their opinions matter and that they have a meaningful stake in shaping and advancing their alma mater.
Of course, that can’t be achieved just by asking them to fill out an alumni survey, but a survey can be an insightful part of your alumni marketing strategy that allows you to find out what they consider valuable enough to get involved.
Keep in mind that such surveys don’t need to be sent by email but can be built into your alumni website, like in this example.
Whatever their form, alumni surveys need to be short and ask the right questions, including those that will inform your further alumni engagement actions.
For instance, what kind of alumni events would they be interested in, or what causes would prompt them to donate their time or money?
Additionally, think about rewarding them for filling out a survey, which up to 55% of alumni organizations fail to do.
Again, this can be a free e-book, tickets, t-shirt with the school logo, or even a discount or gift voucher from companies your school partnered with.
Overall, asking your alumni to fill out a survey can show them your school still cares about them and their opinion, and it can also collect valuable information essential for keeping their engagement high.
Having covered these six strategies to keep your private school alumni engagement high, from offering relevant content on your alumni website and social media to asking alumni to fill out a survey, it’s clear there’s a lot to consider.
However, remember that alumni engagement revolves around providing value to them and keeping communication going, which can be done with the right combination of these strategies and appropriate tech solutions.
When done properly, your private school can boost alumni involvement, thus leveraging their marketing and fundraising power to its benefi