For decades, colleges and universities across the United States have done a great job reaching out to their alumni. Most people who have graduated from a postsecondary institution likely receive regular communications from their former schools, usually in the form of email newsletters, appeals letters, direct mail and social media.
The experiences and lessons that individuals gain in college carries over to the rest of their lives. Most colleges and universities value the connection alumni have to their higher education experience and have found ways to capitalize on it.
Engaged alumni play an essential role in the future success of fundraising functions at universities—and proud alumni act as walking, talking billboards, spreading the word about the quality of the schools they attended. While leveraging alumni resources is nothing new in the higher education world, alumni engagement for K-12 schools and districts is now coming into its own.
In fact, school districts nationwide are implementing many of the same tactics and strategies that have long been used by universities to connect with their alumni.
Alumni engagement strategies
If your school or district is looking to ramp up its alumni engagement strategies, consider these tactics common among postsecondary institutions:
- Collect contact information: Before universities can create an effective strategy for alumni engagement, they must gather relevant data. In the same way that a company markets its products based on consumer profiles, a college can tailor its engagement with alumni based on several metrics. Monitoring popular content related to an educational institution is a good place to start. A K-12 school can gather data about employment and demographics of its alumni and examine online activity related to the institution to inform its engagement strategy.
- Preference segmentation: Once a school or district has gathered relevant information about its alumni, it can target specific population segments. For K-12 districts, this segmentation can be based on the year of graduation, secondary education level and career path. A group of alumni with careers in sales and marketing, for example, may be more responsive to engaging on networking sites like LinkedIn.
- Social media engagement: Social media gives educational institutions an incredible opportunity to reach alumni more effectively than ever before. It’s worth investing in social media campaigns on several different platforms. A popular strategy among universities is to put the spotlight on alumni with brief posts that highlight their accomplishments. These personal shout-outs are more likely to be shared by alumni and demonstrate to prospective students that a school values relationship with former students.
- Analysis and adjustment: Achieving an effective strategy to engage with alumni takes time and requires constant adjustment. It’s essential for schools to track the response to their campaigns and adjust their approach as needed.
Just like a college or university, K-12 schools and districts can benefit greatly from an engaged alumni base. By actively pursuing connections with alumni, schools across the country can develop a reputation and online presence that aids in fundraising efforts and garners positive attention from prospective families.