You are reading this blog post because you’re committed to building a thriving, connected alumni community. That’s fantastic! Without people like you, there would be no reunions and fewer opportunities for old friends to connect.
What about the people who are perhaps a bit more reluctant? Chances are, there are alumni out there who are open to engaging in some capacity, but are unsure how or may not have ever thought to reconnect. In other words, how can you engage the unengaged?
Create diverse experiences
While high school is what unites alumni, not everyone wants to show up to a homecoming game or volunteer to mentor young students. Some are happy to grab a brew on the other side of town without having to relive their high school days. If you’re looking for true engagement and active participation, create diverse opportunities for people to engage in what interests them.
You were not all the same during school, so you shouldn't expect to have the same interests now!
Engage alumni at different entry points
You may assume that because someone is not currently on the email list, doesn’t attend events or lives out of the area, that person does not want any connection to the alumni community. That may not necessarily be the case. Use your current active network to identify alumni who may be able to help with specific roles. Someone may not be able to donate to your drive or volunteer on the reunion committee, but could still be interested in hosting a student for a career research project, for example.
Maybe you’re looking for fun ideas for alumni events, and a previously unengaged alumnus owns a yoga studio and would be happy to host (while getting new business). Even currently unengaged alumni may be able to find a niche that allows them to get more involved.
Offer useful content
Create an intentional social media plan with goals for who you want to reach and clear messages you want to send. Whether it’s school-specific content or alumni spotlights, take time to learn what your community expects from your group.
Not sure what you should be sharing or don’t have time to implement your plan? Perhaps a recent graduate wanting some experience or a marketing expert looking to volunteer would be happy to help.
Open the door to new opportunities, but respect where people are
Take some time to understand why people are or are not engaging. If an alumna is less engaged because she now has small children, consider what programming you could provide to serve her interests. New grads probably won’t have the money to donate to a campaign, so offer different points of entry for getting involved, such as volunteering their time to help with bond measure mailers.
An out-of-state alumnus may not be willing to fly back for reunions, but would still like to know that the school district was ranked at the top of the state or that the soccer team went to regionals.
If people still are not interested in participating, respect that decision. It’s not personal. They may decide to change their minds later, so keep trying!
Engaging alumni requires hard work from volunteers, but is worthwhile for building community. Alumni Nations is here to support you along the way.