Alumni participate with your district or organization because they want to be engaged with and give back to the schools that gave them so much. Sometimes, it’s also nice to feel appreciated. Your alumni are always there for you, but by taking the time to make them feel special, you will build an even stronger community.
Below are some of our favorite ways we’ve seen schools show alumni they are appreciated. Some of these suggestions require getting help from the school administration and the students, but they are likely also the activities that will make alumni feel most appreciated.
Have a distinguished alumni award
Notable members of your community got their start at your schools, so it only makes sense to honor those successes. Create a nomination process for selecting a distinguished alumnus or alumnae. Solicit donations from a local business for a prize and find a space in the high school for a wall of recognition.
Include alumni in homecoming or graduation activities
Large community gatherings at the school are an excellent time to take a few moments to show appreciation for alumni. Have alumni walk in the parade or invite them on the field during halftime. Invite members of the golden class (i.e., the class of 1970 at graduation 2020) to attend graduation and offer them special acknowledgement with a shoutout during the program and a special cap or corsage.
Honor winning teams
Did the 1973 football team win state? What about the 1995 soccer team? Host reunions for these winning teams in conjunction with events for that team. Plan to honor the team during halftime of the game, and then host a pizza party where students and alumni can chat about their sport together. Or, you can host an alumni versus students game. It’s a great way to bring everyone together on a smaller scale!
Create a social media campaign for #ThrowbackThursday
Sometimes, appreciation is as simple as posting a photo. Scan old yearbook photos and upload them to the alumni group’s social media account. Or better yet, add them to the school or district’s accounts. Encourage alumni to tag themselves and their friends and to share the photos. Ask them to send in their favorites. This not only amuses your current followers, but also helps you to earn more of an alumni following.
Create a directory of alumni businesses
One of the benefits of an alumni organization is networking. Let alumni know where they can turn to with their business needs. Whether it’s a pizza place or a tax preparer, alumni want to support their own. Local business owners will be grateful for the free advertising for their business.
Show how you’re using alumni feedback
If you have been asking alumni to share their feedback, whether on social, blog comments or in a survey, thank them for their engagement. If they are offering suggestions, let them know that you’ve heard them and the changes you will be making.
Taking the time to tell your alumni they are appreciated will do wonders for your community. You’ll retain your active members and help to attract new ones. After all, everyone loves a nice “thank you” now and then.