Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to build connections between groups of people. Fortunately, alumni organizations are home to a host of fascinating stories that members both relate to and understand. Alumni stories are an excellent tool for demonstrating the value of your school and the value of your alumni organization.
If you’re unsure how to collect alumni stories for your organization, here’s how you can get started.
Find compelling alumni
If you’d like to start collecting stories from alumni, begin with people in your network. If there are alumni who are actively involved in the community, the school or your organization, begin by collecting their stories. As active participants they won’t need much convincing to help.
While you are working on collecting the stories from the people in your immediate network, begin broadening your outreach efforts. Create a form where alumni can nominate each other (or themselves) to be featured in your marketing. Make the form available on your Nation Builder site and post it regularly on your social channels. Be sure to include it as a call to action when you begin posting stories from the series.
While there are likely some impressive alumni in your network, make an effort to include everyone’s stories. A notable alum might not just be a local politician or a business owner. Featuring many types of people will help others to see themselves in your organization.
Conduct an interview
Once you’ve found an alum to interview, you’ll need to collect the story. Depending on your resources and the alum’s availability, you have a few options. You can prepare a standard list of questions (more on that below) and have the alum submit the answers via email. If you’d like to have more of a conversation, you can ask the questions via phone or in person and record the meeting. Another option is to create a video series to share online. This would be a great way to get your school’s media or journalism department involved.
An even easier option is to keep a form posted on your Nation Builder site. Alumni can submit their own stories at their leisure. As with the nomination form, be sure to feature this link prominently and promote it often.
Ask the right questions
One it’s time to interview an alum, you want to use your time effectively and ask questions that will elicit the best responses. Sample questions you can ask include:
- How did you spend your time during your school days?
- What was your most memorable year?
- What was your favorite class? Who was your favorite teacher?
- What did you learn in school that helped you after graduation?
- What advice would you give to today’s students?
Add your own questions to better fit the alum and your school.
With a little work, you can easily pull out the best stories about your school and your community to share with your members. These stories will help you share more about your organization, connect alumni with each other and teach current students about shared experiences. It’s also a great way to preserve a piece of school history at a certain point in time.
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