The new school year is underway, which means there’s a brand new opportunity for your alumni association to connect with students. The best way to establish long-term success for your organization is to make sure you have a presence in the schools and that current students are well aware that your organization exists.
So what are some of the steps you can take to make sure students know about your alumni association from the time they’re entering the building as new freshmen?
Here are a few ideas.
- Postcards: Consider working with the school to place postcards or flyers in all freshmen lockers advertising the alumni association and the kind of work it does for the school community.
- Emails: Have school administration send out emails about your alumni association, or have them include information about your organization’s events and activities in various roundups that get sent out to students.
- Home room introductions: Consider going in to freshman home rooms to talk about the alumni association and the kind of impact your high school years had on you. Freshmen tend to be excited to be starting this new phase of their lives, so it’s a good time to hit them with this messaging.
- Social media: Establish a strong presence on social media, not just on Facebook, but on places where younger audiences are hanging out, like Instagram or even TikTok.
- Be present: Have an organizational presence at school events. When current students see you constantly present and involved, they’re much more likely to get involved when they become alumni themselves.
For more tips, contact us at Alumni Nations!
The new school year is underway, and for high schools across the nation, there’s a sort of buzz as Homecoming season approaches!
Chances are your alumni association already has some great plans in place for bringing back alumni to get involved in your homecoming celebrations. Of course, not everyone is necessarily going to be able to make the journey back to their home town to participate. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interested!
Consider giving your long-distance alumni some virtual opportunities to participate and showcase their school spirit. They might not be able to make the tailgates or mixers, but they can still participate in these fun virtual ideas!
- Spirit days: Most high schools put together spirit days for their Homecoming weeks. Consider sharing the themes for the spirit days on your social media pages and encourage alumni to get dressed up and share a photo of themselves in their spirit outfits! This is both a simple and fun way to engage your alumni.
- Throwbacks: Encourage alumni to share throwback photos of their own high school Homecoming experiences. This can be a great way to connect the excitement of your upcoming homecoming to the past. It’s always fun to revisit old memories (and styles)!
- Fundraising competitions: Consider putting together digital fundraising competitions! You could create teams by graduating class or decade and see who ends up raising the most money for your organization or for a specific educational initiative for your school. This is a great way to get your alumni involved while supporting important causes.
- Recorded messages: Have alumni send in recorded messages talking about their favorite high school memories, especially regarding homecoming, and share them on your social pages to help spread the excitement!
Looking for more ways to keep even your distant alumni involved around Homecoming season? Contact us at Alumni Nations!
With August mostly behind us, most teachers and families are in major back-to-school mode, with school about to begin for many districts (and having already begun in some). For teachers, this means making sure they’re stocked with all the items they need to get through the school year.
With school districts across the nation having various abilities to provide teachers with everything they wish for, it is often teachers who use their own money to supplement the materials provided by the school district. Many of the classroom supplies they use on an everyday basis must be purchased outside of school funds.
For this reason it has become popular for teachers to create wish lists on sites like Amazon that include items and supplies that will make a difference in their classroom. Once items are purchased, Amazon ships the item directly to the school (or the teacher’s home).
If you are a teacher, using such a wish list is a great way to show alumni what you need most. You’ll find that many alumni are happy to help their old teachers out.
Here is a quick overview of the process:
- Sign into your personal Amazon account
- Hover over the “accounts and lists” option in the top right, under your name, and click “create a list” on the left side of the hover menu
- Under the “this list is for” drop-down, click “you”
- In the list type options, select “wish list”
- Type in the name of your list
- Under “privacy,” set the list to “public” to ensure anyone interested in contributing can see your list
- Under “recipient name,” place your name
It’s that simple! Once you’ve completed this process you have a new Amazon wish list you can fill with items you need for your classroom. To add items to your list, search Amazon for products you want, go to the product page and select the “add to list” drop down menu, choosing your classroom wish list.
For more tips and information, contact us at Alumni Nations!
It’s hard to believe, but August is already here, meaning the start of the new school year is already here for some and only a few weeks away for others! Homecoming celebrations are coming up right behind the start of the school year too! If you haven’t already begun planning your Homecoming events for your alumni, it’s important to get started now.
One of the easiest and most popular events alumni associations hold around Homecoming is an alumni tailgate at the Homecoming football game. Tailgates are low-stress, laid-back events that are relatively easy to plan, so long as you know everything you need to do. Here’s a quick set of tips to ensure your alumni tailgate party goes off without a hitch.
- Begin planning early: The earlier you get the word out about the event the better. This will allow out-of-town alumni to clear their schedules and make plans to come into town to support the event.
- Send out invitations a couple months ahead of time: You can spread the word about the event long before this, but you can send out official invitations a couple months head of time with the date and a deadline by which to RSVP. Include information about the time the tailgate begins, where it’ll be located and what time the kickoff is. Consider using our invitation template from the National Alumni Institute.
- Decide on food issues: Will you be cooking yourself, or will you be having a catered cookout? If the former, you’ll need to make sure you have people volunteering to run the grills and help out at the event. You’ll also need to make sure you get enough food in advance to accommodate the guests who have RSVP'd. If the latter, it’s important to book a caterer early so they can fit your event into their schedule. Be sure to ask how many people they will be able to send to work at the event.
- Have add-on activities: Plan to have other activities beyond just food. This could include corn-hole or other yard games, photo booths, a performance by the high school’s marching band or anything else that could get you in the mood for the game and showing some spirit.
- Consider after plans: After the game are your alumni heading their separate ways, or are you going to host some sort of after party? Consider talking to local bars, taverns or other establishments about the possibility of hosting some kind of alumni gathering when the game is done.
For more alumni tailgate tips, contact us at Alumni Nations!
Summer is a great time to take care of some organizational housekeeping, which can include reviewing, fixing and updating your website. A great place to start is reviewing if your landing page is properly supporting your mission and providing your visitors with information they need about the organization.
There are several key questions your landing page should answer:
- What is it that you’re selling? You may not be a business in the traditional sense, but you’re still selling something, including opportunities to stay in touch with your alma mater and fellow alumni.
- How does your organization enhance the lives of its members?
- What is your organization’s mission?
Your visitors should be able to discern the answers to these questions very quickly upon navigating to your website. A simple statement or sentence and the photos you choose to decorate your landing page should give a very clear message of what your organization stands for and how it supports your alma mater.
Make sure also to check all links and features on your landing page to ensure they work as desired. Broken links should be fixed immediately, and features that are outdated should be either updated or eliminated.
These simple checks and questions can go a long way toward creating a high-quality landing page that informs and activates your audience.
Alumni Nations provides excellent templates for your alumni website that ensure these questions are always answered- contact us today to learn more!
Need to send out a message to your members and supporters to solicit volunteers? It’s important you word it properly and effectively to give you the greatest chance of getting volunteers.
Your email should accomplish the following:
- Clearly communicate your organization’s values
- Provide examples of unique experiences and benefits volunteers receive with your organization
- Provide a link to a place online where you have specific volunteer opportunities in various time increments
- Provide contact information for people to connect with you with any questions they have
Here’s an example of a template you could tweak for your own purposes to use as a volunteer solicitation email.
At ORGANIZATION NAME, we believe we have the ability to make a difference in our community if we work alongside and in partnership with you! Therefore we’d like to invite you to volunteer with our organization to advance our mission to [INSERT MISSION].
By volunteering with our organization you will have the opportunity to:
- Opportunity 1
- Opportunity 2
- Opportunity 3
Volunteering with our organization is easy! To explore time-flexible volunteer opportunities, visit our website at WEBSITE. If you identify a role or event you’d be interested in, or if you don’t see anything but would still like to discuss how you can help our organization by donating your time, please reach out to NAME, TITLE at PHONE NUMBER or by email at EMAIL ADDRESS.
SCHOOL PRIDE TAGLINE
One of the best types of content for you to create for your alumni association’s website is the alumni profile. These pieces give you a chance to get closer to your members, and their nature makes them highly shareable among family members and friends of those featured.
You don’t necessarily have to focus on distinguished alumni who have major accomplishments in their fields; even focusing on the small things people are doing and achieving in their lives is a great way of showing off your membership and the many ways in which alumni of your school go on to make a difference in the world.
Of course, to produce a great alumni profile, you need to ask the right questions. These questions should be thought provoking and lead to interesting responses.
Here are a few examples of some of the best questions to ask when interviewing an alumni for your next profile piece.
- What are some of your fondest memories of your time at [school]?
- Who are some teachers, coaches or other adult figures who were in your life that made an impact on you during your time in high school, and how?
- What are some of the most important lessons you took away from your time at [school]?
- What does your life look like now, and how do you believe it was influenced by your high school experience?
- How did you become involved with our alumni association?
- What is your favorite part of being involved with our organization?
- How would you like to see our organization grow and evolve?
- What sort of advice would you give to current students at [school]?
Need some more tips for crafting great alumni profiles? Contact us at Alumni Nations today!
Birthdays present an opportunity for you to create a meaningful connection with the members of your alumni association. Take the time to create messages that you can easily personalize and let them know you remember them and are thinking about them on a day that is truly all about them.
You already have a database of members, so you most likely have the contact information and birthdays of your members already. All it takes now is for you to find a creative way to celebrate your alumni’s birthdays.
There are a variety of strategies you can use to accomplish this. It could be a simple email, it could be a signed birthday card in the mail, it could be a personal birthday phone call, or it could be a video that your team creates to send via email.
Here are a few tips for you to consider as you decide what strategy will work best for you.
- Get students involved: Creating a card? Consider seeing if any students in the art or photography department at school would be willing to make some templates for your organization! Creating a video? Check with your school’s AV club or other tech-savvy students or organizations within the school to see if they’d like to be a part. It’s one more way to enhance the connection between the school and the alum.
- Bring in familiar faces: If you’re filming a video, bring in faces who might be familiar with the person in question. Consider asking the alum’s former teachers to make an extra-personal touch.
- Have multiple templates available: If you’re sending a simple email or card, or need a caption for a video, you can have a number already written out in advance that you can then personalize for each recipient. This will save you quite a bit of time.
- Automate when possible: At the very least you can automate alerts about who has birthdays coming up so you have a to-do list for creating and sending birthday wishes.
Contact us today at Alumni Nations for more tips!
Every nonprofit organization can benefit from sponsors, whether they’re ongoing sponsorships or sponsors of individual events. This includes alumni associations. Many organizations can benefit from outside funding beyond memberships to put on events and special programs they would like to run.
With so much on everyone's current plates, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to make time to procure sponsorships. We’ve listed some tips for how you can find and approach sponsors for your alumni association and its events.
- Consider their ability to donate: Depending on the size or type of business, their ability to sponsor your organization might be limited. Particularly small businesses, for example, might only be able to contribute small items or coupons to events, but other, larger businesses or businesses of certain types might have more financial resources at their disposal. Consider the needs of your organization and adjust your ask based on the business you’re approaching.
- Start local: Local businesses are more likely to have close ties to your school and organization, so you should consider starting there, as the odds of a “yes” are higher.
- Connect with alumni business owners: If you know any alumni who own businesses in your area, consider asking them for a sponsorship. Their own personal connection to the school (and possibly to your organization) will increase the odds of a sponsorship.
- Sponsor specific things: While general organizational sponsorships are highly beneficial, you might find more success in securing sponsorships for your organization if you give them something specific they will be supporting. This could include a class reunion, an upcoming event or even your organization’s alumni database.
- Have something to offer in return: You will be more likely to lure in sponsors if you give them something in return, or show the ROI of their sponsorship clearly. Put their name on your event advertisements, list them on your website as a sponsor, give them free admission to your events, etc. Whatever you can feasibly provide at little or no cost that will encourage them to become sponsors, you should investigate.
Looking for more tips about how you can attract sponsors for your alumni association? Contact us today at Alumni Nations!
With Mother’s Day having just happened, we thought it would be an appropriate time to think about how you can get parents of students involved in your alumni association!
That’s right--you don’t necessarily need to restrict your organization just to alumni of your school or district. There’s plenty of space for other community members and supporters who want to be advocates for your organization and the school in general.
So how can you connect with parents of current students or recent alumni and invite them to get involved in your organization? Here are a few tips.
- Make sure they feel important: Parents of students in the district are just as critical to the health and success of a district and school community as alumni, and in many cases have even more of a role they can play. Keep the language of your communications inclusive to ensure community members also feel like they can get involved and are invited to connect with your organization.
- Have a presence in the school community: If you’re able to show up at school events and be actively involved in activities involving current students as well as alumni, this will broaden the appeal of your organization and allow you opportunities to connect with parents of existing students. These parents are already naturally plugged into the everyday events and goings-on of the district, so if they frequently see you in and around the school, they’ll be more likely to take an interest in your group.
- Target your communications: Target some of your communications directly to parents of students in the district, especially at the high school level. You may be able to work with your school or district office to get parent contact information to send them information about your organization and how they can get involved.
These are just a few examples of some of the strategies you could employ to get more involvement from parents of current students in the district. Get out there and broaden your membership!
A great way to attract new members to your alumni association is to offer some perks for membership that entice them to come aboard. While not every person who joins your organization necessarily needs a sweetener to do so, it certainly can’t hurt to have a set of perks that only add to the benefits of being involved in your alumni association.
Once you’ve chosen your membership perks, you should be sure to review them annually to make sure they’re not growing stale or that they’re still perks that are in demand among your membership.
Here are a few tips to help you find the ideal membership perks to offer your alumni who register for your organization.
- Easy to mail: Any physical items you use as perks should be easy to mail. They shouldn’t require particularly special packaging or difficult methods of delivery. Ideally you should be able to get these items to your members as easily (and cheaply) as possible.
- Show school pride: Great perk items are things that can be easily customized to feature school colors or logos. Think flags, scarves, socks, pens, frisbees, mugs, koozies, t-shirts, tote bags and other items of that nature. Ideally your membership perks will double as school pride tools when people take them out into public with them.
- Information: Don’t forgot about free e-newsletters! Every member who signs up should get the perk of information. That should be a basic offering to anyone who decides to register for your organization. This information is their lifeline to your organization and everything you’ve got going on, and could entice them to sign up for higher membership tiers.
- Special access: Perks don’t necessarily have to be physical items. You can offer special access to certain organizational events or school events, such as tailgates, sporting events, concerts, theatrical performances, alumni galas or banquets and more.
For more ideas about how you can get the most out of your membership perks, contact us at Alumni Nations!
Are you preparing for a large capital ask for your alumni association? It’s important you do all the necessary preparation to lay the groundwork for success in your capital campaign. For sizable asks, it should be all hands on deck within your organization to make sure you’re maximizing your ability to achieve your financial goals!
Here are a few tips to help you make sure everyone who wants to help out your organization has an opportunity to lend a hand.
- Spread awareness: Make sure your entire audience knows about your campaign. This is a great way to get your members and volunteers involved; you can allow them to spread the message into their circles, which reach far beyond your own. The more people you can have advocating for your organization and spreading the word about its campaign, the more potential sources of funding you will have available.
- Vary your gift options: Give different options for gifts that appeal to different donors. These gifts might vary from large to small with some benefits being intrinsic in nature and others providing more recognition in the form of plaques or bricks that honor the donor. Your alumni are at all different stages of their lives and have all different income levels, so you shouldn’t settle for one-size-fits-all recognition options. Be creative and offer plenty of opportunities to recognize and thank your donors. Your members and volunteers may be able to assist you in the form of connections with certain types of gifts.
- Show the outcome: Make sure all of your communications are benefits-driven and show potential donors the outcome of their actions and your overall campaign. People want to know exactly how their money is going to be put to use and how they can make an impact. Specifically, how will their money benefit the students of today and of years to come?
These are just a few simple tips to keep in mind as you start organizing your next capital campaign. We encourage you to get as many of your members involved as possible to increase the power and potential of your fundraising drive!
If you’re volunteering with your alumni association, chances are you have at least some level of involvement in making class reunions happen. Leaders from those individual classes tend to take the lead in planning, but alumni associations should be able to offer some support as well, especially when you consider the recruitment potential of these reunions.
Whenever reunions come up for various classes, alumni associations should therefore be ready to step up in a supporting role. It’s important to make sure those 10-year reunions happen to start with to establish a pattern of years to come.
Of course, there also needs to be a balance. While alumni associations should absolutely support these reunions, they shouldn’t have to completely plan them out, either. So how do you help without getting over-committed in the planning process?
Here are a few ways your organization can lend some support.
- Create support materials: Provide all parties planning reunions with some information about some of the best locations in town for where to host the event and for some other recommendations about things to do and see while around. Include examples of past reunions and what other groups have done.
- Work with local businesses: Make connections with local businesses in your area to create reunion hosting programs that offer discounts and other specials for your alumni. This is something these businesses are likely going to be willing to do if you’re regularly sending large reunion groups their way.
- Collect stories: Gather stories from alumni in the classes coming up on big reunion years that you can somehow implement in the activities throughout the reunion. Your organization likely has a lot of alumni contact information, so it makes sense to facilitate some of this.
- Communicate with class leadership: The class presidents (or whoever is tasked with running your reunions) will need some help in collecting contact information and building connections with those local businesses. Try to facilitate those connections as much as possible and keep lines of communication open with them.
For more tips about the role your alumni association can play in reunion planning, contact us at Alumni Nations!
Whether it’s an alumni association or any other kind of cause or charitable organization that’s important for you, your involvement with fundraising for that organization can include curating planned giving prospects.
It can be a challenging subject to broach, but we have a few tips that can help you discuss the opportunity with your prospects.
- Always express gratitude: This may seem obvious but is so critical. Every time you have a conversation about planned giving and donations, make sure you share gratitude that they are taking the time to discuss this subject and share something you’re passionate about, even before they give or if they don’t end up giving.
- Tell stories: Data and statistics are not particularly effective at motivating people to give. Outcomes and stories should be the focus of your ask.
- Use a variety of channels: While social media blasts might work for awareness, you should use more personal forms of communication when talking about planned gifts. Phone calls and in person meetings will go a long way to build the kind of meaningful relationship needed to cultivate planned gifts.
- Offer other ways to get involved: You can reduce the pressure to give financially by also showing other ways to get involved. Gifts can often ladder up so giving smaller ways to get involved can be a great part of the process. This can include volunteering for or helping raise awareness about the organization.
- Be sure to follow up: Planned gifts definitely do not come from a single ask. Often donors will start with small gifts and through follow up and relationship building, often over years, you can grow gifts to larger asks.
- Be patient: planned giving is a huge decision and can take a long time to decide on. Be patient in the process!
For more tips about talking about donations and planned giving, contact us at Alumni Nations!
Spring is almost here, which means it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning and organization! From an alumni association perspective, this doesn’t mean cleaning out a basement or attic; instead, we’re talking about reorganizing and updating your alumni database.
Here are a few tips we have to help you get your database in tip-top shape.
Double check your organization
Make sure you are always keeping your database as organized as possible to help you segment your communications more effectively.
The forms you have people fill out when they register for your organization should help you with this, but it’s important to regularly double-check your database to make sure people put all of the proper information in all of the proper fields.
Keeping all of this information organized will make it much easier for you to target your messages to specific audiences within your list of members.
Allow alumni to do their own updates
Your alumni will almost certainly have to update their information at some point, including addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. To simplify this process, provide them with a form where they can easily submit their own record updates.
To give them a gentle nudge to update their information, you can add reminders at the end of all communications to update their address and contact information if it has since changed. Include a link to the form directly within your email newsletter.
These simple steps will go a long way toward making your alumni database significantly easier to use. For more information and ideas about how to reorganize and maintain your database, contact us today at Alumni Nations.
We’ve got three great fundraising ideas (one in person, one virtual and one hybrid) that you might consider this spring. Having a variety of ways your supports can get involved in your fundraisers can help widen your reach. Let’s take a look:
In-Person: Golf Outing
A golf outing is a classic fundraiser option that takes advantage of nice weather. It’s anyone’s guess at this point what the COVID situation will look like when spring arrives and warmer weather hits, but this is about as pandemic-proof an in-person gathering as you can have, as it takes place outdoors in wide open areas.
Select a venue for your fundraiser and secure sponsors for the event. People pay to take part in the competition, and there may also be additional fundraisers that coincide with the actual golf tournament, including silent auctions or golf-related challenges.
You’ll need to make sure you have enough volunteers to manage the event on the day it happens, and push to get most of your registrations before the event.
Virtual: Day of Giving
You’d be surprised how many people are willing to donate to your organization if you simply make the ask.
A virtual day of giving is a great way to fundraise 100% online. Set up a donation system through a site or program like Give-Education Day, GoFundMe, PayPal or Facebook’s built-in fundraising platform and make that ask. You should be sure to advertise the day of giving in advance and be clear about exactly what your goal is and what you are raising money for.
Throughout the day, keep your audience updated about your progress and engaged with your message. Be sure to thank donors and honor particularly generous ones! For a turn-key day of giving be sure to check out Give-Education Day and consider having your organization participate!
Hybrid: Trivia Night
Who doesn’t love a good trivia night? You can easily turn this option into a hybrid event by holding the contest in-person while allowing some people to participate remotely. You’ll need to abide by the honor system in terms of ensuring those not in attendance don’t cheat to get their answers, but you can still keep people engaged and maximize your participation in the event by creating a virtual option.
Have more ideas for successful fundraising events as we continue to navigate a pandemic? Share them with us!
Having a sponsor for your alumni association and/or your regular events is a great way to increase your organization’s visibility and garner some extra financial support that can help take the strain off your fundraisers, who may even work on a volunteer basis.
So what’s the best way to go about securing such sponsorships? Looking towards your own network can be a great start, so read on for some tips about how to hone in on this type of financial support.
Connect with Successful Alumni
As the managers of the alumni organization, you and your team have access to one of the most powerful tools that you can have at your fingertips: the alumni themselves. If any alumni are executives or business owners, they should be priority go-to sources to make the ask.
Once you’ve assembled a good list of leads, it’s time to start working the phones (and email and Zoom) to gauge their interest in a sponsorship. The fact that they’re already connected to your cause is a big headstart. They’ll likely at least be willing to have a conversation. From there, it’s important to deliver a strong pitch.
Communicating Sponsorship Benefits
A sponsorship needs to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for it to really be attractive to potential sponsors. Therefore, you should have a plan in place for how you can present value to the sponsor and the kind of opportunity that exists for them in partnering with your organization.
This might include raising awareness of their business by putting their name, logo, slogan or marketing images on your own marketing materials to give them advertising in return for their sponsorship.
Pitching Sponsorship to Alumni
Part of the attraction of a sponsorship for alumni business owners is that it’s also a chance for these proud alums to “give back” to their alma mater. This financial support is especially critical in times where funds are tight. Prepare presentation materials and pitches that emphasize just how meaningful a sponsorship from an alumni can be and how it further strengthens the bonds between alum and institution.
Sponsorships are great support for the ongoing success of alumni organizations. Get started by approaching alumni about their willingness to partner with you, and then flesh out further sponsorship strategies to be able to meet your annual fundraising goals.
For more tips and information, contact us at Alumni Nations!
Most of us have made a new year’s resolution at some point in our lives, whether it’s losing weight, getting better at a hobby, or being more patient. For your alumni association, consider rethinking how you create and share content!
January represents a great starting point to reconsider how you approach these types of communications, so read on for some tips about how you can better engage your community of alumni.
Make Small Weekly Updates
Rather than relying solely on sending single larger newsletters on a monthly or quarterly basis, it can be a good idea to send out smaller ones to your mailing list every week. The information could be as simple as what’s happening around campus, including sports scores, events at the dining hall, notable campus speakers, etc.
These simple, short weekly updates can be a great way for alumni to feel connected to their alma mater by immersing them in the high-energy campus setting of the school that they love so much.
Don’t Forget the Larger Newsletters!
That said, it’s important to continue to send the larger updates as well. These are what alumni have come to expect, and they can perform a number of functions. In addition to serving as a great reminder and catalyst for fundraising, you can also use them to aggregate the information that you’ve assembled in the weekly updates.
In addition, these larger updates represent a great way to let alumni know events coming up they can attend (both virtual and in-person) in advance. By listing all the events that are coming up in the following month or quarter, you allow your alumni to RSVP on the spot and update their calendars accordingly (although it doesn’t hurt to include reminders of these events in the weekly newsletters as well).
Create Recurring Topics
One way to keep alumni engaged in newsletter updates is to create recurring topics in your newsletter that provide new updates with each edition.
For example, one thing that you could do is connect with the history department of your school and mine their institutional knowledge to learn more about the interesting elements of the school’s history. You could get teachers, students or other alumni involved to contribute to these features. Eventually, these types of columns could very well become favorites for alumni, who will explore every newsletter hoping to find the most recent one.
Content for alumni newsletters can be easy and fun and now is the time for you to start thinking about new approaches to your content!
Contact us at Alumni Nations to learn more about alumni content!
Another year has come and gone--can you believe it? It feels as though we were just ringing in the new year for 2021.
While we may only be about halfway through the school year, now is a great time for your alumni association to see how close you came to hitting your 2021 goals. It’s also a good time to start thinking about the goals you can set for the 2022 calendar year.
Unsure where to begin? Here are a few tips for setting achievable goals for your alumni association.
Know the crucial metrics to track
It becomes much easier to set goals (and track them) if you know the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most indicative of organizational success.
These metrics include:
- Membership registrations
- Registration numbers for alumni events
- Participation in volunteer opportunities
- Engagement on social media platforms
- Click-through and open rates for email newsletters
- Page views and shares for your website and blog
- Donations made to your organization and initiatives
Understand what makes for a reasonable goal
A main purpose of alumni associations is to create a large, strong network of alumni with opportunities for interpersonal connection and networking, as well as opportunities to support the school community. Any goals your organization sets should have those purposes in mind, and should be based on historical data.
This is why it’s important to track registrations, donations and other KPIs year after year--it’s difficult to set goals if you don’t have an understanding of the data and how you’ve performed in the past. It’s also hard to find opportunities for improvement if you have no numbers to compare year over year.
Using data for the above metrics you can pinpoint metrics you wish to improve and set reasonable goals backed by specific actions your organization can take to achieve them.
For example, you may wish to increase your total amount of donations by a certain percentage in 2022. Based on giving amounts over the last several years you can determine a goal figure to reach in the next year. You can then consider the efforts you’ve taken in the past to encourage donations and find strategies that will help you reach your goals, such as being more consistent with your asks, improving your annual appeal and finding new ways to engage your audience.
We wish you the best of luck with your annual reviews and your goal setting for the new year. Happy New Year to you all!
Over the last few years, organizations of all types have gotten creative with how they hold their events, including embracing virtual settings. Even when the pandemic fades away, it is likely the idea of the virtual event will stick around, at least in some capacity. More organizations will offer hybrid virtual/in person options as a way to get people from all over the country and world involved.
Your alumni association can embrace this hybrid event setup for years to come as a way to keep alumni engaged, no matter where they are. Here are a few tips for ensuring success with these hybrid events.
- Use reliable technology, and test in advance: If you’re going to add virtual elements to your event, your guests will definitely enjoying using a platform that is reliable and gives options for participation beyond just live streaming of video. Make sure you set up and test all of the equipment and technology you’ll be using in advance to iron out the kinks before the day of the event itself.
- Keep it simple: Give online participants advance instructions about how they can log in, what they can expect with regard to timing and how to use any other features or functionality available to them. Don’t overwhelm them with information or features, however--the best hybrid or virtual events are the ones that don’t put too much of a burden on remote attendees.
- Find ways to encourage interaction: Live streaming an event is a great way to show your members from afar what your organization is doing, but if you really want the event to be a hit with your remote audience you should find ways to create and encourage interaction. That may come in the form of a live chat, Q&A sessions, virtual games or activities, virtual breakout rooms with remote attendees and other such ideas.
- Showcase virtual attendees: Depending on the format of your event, you may be able to still give virtual attendees some “face time.” Get them on screen asking questions or giving feedback, or highlight questions or comments that come in via live chat. Do what you can to show your virtual attendees they’re truly “with you,” and not just in spirit.
- Know that it won’t work for every event: Not every event you put on is going to be ideal for a hybrid in person/virtual layout. That’s okay. Just find opportunities throughout your event schedule to implement the style so you’re not completely leaving out your long-distance members.
Want more tips for setting up a hybrid event for your alumni association? Contact us at Alumni Nations!