Ideas for Great Membership Perks for Your Alumni Association

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!

Getting Your Capital Campaigns Off the Ground

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!

How You Can Help Big Reunions Happen

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!

Tips for Discussing Planned Giving

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 Cleaning With Your Alumni Database

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.

Three Fundraising Ideas for All Event Styles (In Person, Virtual and Hybrid)

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!

How to Gain Sponsors for Your Alumni Association and Events

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!

New Year, New Content: Tips for Coming Up with New Content for Your Alumni Newsletter

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! 

Did You Meet Your 2021 Goals? Considerations for a Yearly Review

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!

Tips for Running Great Hybrid Virtual/In Person Alumni Events

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!

Tips for Getting Great Thank You Video Submissions from Your Alumni

It’s Thanksgiving season, which means it’s a great time for us to think about all of the things for which we are most thankful. Chances are you have many alumni who are members of your alumni association who are thankful for the time they spent at your school!

Why not ask them to share that gratitude this season, both as a way to give something back to the school community and to raise awareness of your organization? Video content can be a highly powerful means of sharing your school’s story, and that includes videos highlighting alumni stories and gratitude.

Here are a few tips for getting great video submissions from your alumni.

  • Make the ask: You can certainly put out general calls for video submissions on social media and your website, but you will likely get a better response from your alumni if you actually ask directly for video submissions. You can make requests via your email newsletter, or personalize your ask to specific alumni you know to be engaged in your organization already.
  • Tell them exactly what you need: Make sure you’re clear with the directions you give to your alumni so they know exactly what you want out of the videos they’re sending back to you. You can give them a prompt to use or specific questions to answer, or can even provide them with a general script. If you leave it too open-ended, you might not get back what you were hoping for.
  • Give them a theme: This goes along with the previous point, but it can be helpful if you give them a specific theme to use for their videos. For Thanksgiving season, it is gratitude. What is something they were truly thankful for about their experiences in high school? 
  • Provide logistical instructions: Beyond the content of the video, you should provide some other logistical instructions to people who send in videos to ensure consistency and quality. Make sure everyone films in landscape versus portrait mode. Make sure they film in an area that is well lit, where there are few distractions and little background noise to worry about. Make sure everyone speaks clearly and projects well. 
  • Follow up: For people who do send in videos, make sure you follow up with your own gratitude to them for their assistance. They took some time out of their day to help your organization with this project, so make sure they know it’s appreciated!

For more tips about developing great thank-you videos, contact us at Alumni Nations.

Best Practices for a Successful Annual Appeal for Your Alumni Association

The holiday season is here, and with it comes the biggest fundraising time of year for many nonprofit organizations, who rely on people’s generosity around the holidays to meet their yearly financial goals. 

Part of this fundraising is crafting an annual appeal, in which you directly ask donors to contribute to your organization. The general principles of developing an annual appeal are essentially the same for alumni associations as for other types of nonprofit organizations. The proper execution of your campaign can make all the difference between falling short and achieving outstanding results.

Here are a few best practices in developing an annual appeal for you to consider this holiday season.

  • Connect via multiple channels: Not all of your donors or audience can be found through a single communication channel. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, you should use a multi-channel approach that maximizes your chances of connecting with your audience. Use email, web, phone calls, direct mail, and/or social media.
  • Constantly test and adjust: Keep an eye on all of your key metrics like campaign revenue, open rate, conversion rate and more to determine how well you campaign is performing and if there are any opportunities for improvement. The most successful annual fundraising campaigns are ones that are tested and optimized thoroughly.
  • Make sharing easy: The more word-of-mouth advertising you’re able to generate, the better your campaign will do. As part of this, you should make it as easy as possible for people to share your content, and encourage them to do so. Put social sharing icons on all digital materials. Use content like images and video that are more likely to stand out in social feeds. And of course, ask people directly to share your content with their friends and other potential donors.
  • Make donating easy: Donating should be fast, easy and safe. It should take less than 60 seconds for a person who decides they want to donate to actually donate. Find online payment processing systems that work efficiently and use a variety of options if necessary. If sending out direct mail, include stamped and addressed return envelopes so all they need to do is write a check and put it back in the mailbox.
  • Create narratives: Tell stories with your fundraising, and this will create a much greater emotional attachment that will make people more likely to donate. People want to give to a cause, not always to an organization. Develop a sense of urgency, and show them exactly how their money can be put toward good uses.
  • Follow up: After people donate, make sure you follow up. This gives you an opportunity to personally thank them for their donation once again, but also to tell them how their support contributed to the success of your fundraising and your organizational efforts.

Best of luck to you and your alumni association in this fundraising season!

Don’t be Afraid to Make the Ask! 3 Spooky Good Tips for Increasing Your Giving Dollars

With Halloween coming up and the holiday season right around the corner, now is also a good time for your alumni association to play “trick or treat” with your supporters.

We’re approaching the time of year where people are most likely to support charitable organizations and causes they care about. Your existing member base and other potential donors all have a connection to your organization and to your alma mater. While it’s understandable to be nervous about creating new giving campaigns for the holidays, sometimes all it takes is making the ask.

So in this “spooky season” that is upon us, we encourage you to be brave and make that ask! Here are a few tips for you to employ this season that will help you increase your donations.

Create a personalized message

Any time you’re asking for donations, you should make sure the message you’re giving is tailored to whoever will be receiving it. Certain members of your audience might respond better to a simple lighthearted request, others might want a more formal approach. 

You can still use the same general narrative in your giving campaigns, but tweak the language slightly, especially for older alumni versus more recent alumni.

Be direct and concrete

When asking for donations, don’t try to dance around the topic. Instead, specifically state how much money you hope to raise and how your donors can help you achieve your goal by giving specific dollar amounts.

Provide tangible items that will be supported by their donations, if you think that will drive more action. Some donors like to know about specific initiatives for which money will be used, such as scholarships or educational programming. 

You should also provide information about the specific perks or benefits that come with donating a certain amount. 

Make donating easy

Your ask will be much more successful if you do whatever you can to remove barriers from would-be donors. Provide a link directly within an email that takes donors to a secure payment portal. Keep donation links live on your website whenever you call for donors. If you send out physical mailers, include stamped envelopes addressed to your organization so donors can easily send back checks.

Now that you understand the tricks, go out and get those treats! Good luck with your fall fundraising.

Choosing the Right Social Media Channels for Your Audience

Social media outreach is a great way to connect with alumni from your district, but if you’re not careful, creating that content can turn into a much larger job than you bargained for!

To reduce the pressure on whoever is taking care of social media, it’s important for you to limit your outreach to the places you know your audience is likely to be. You might be surprised at where your audience tunes in the most!

So rather than automatically signing up for every single social media platform, what are some steps you can take for a more focused approach? Here are a few tips.

Survey your audience

Your email newsletter is a great way for you to connect with your audience about which social platforms they use the most. Send out a simple poll that gives them the option to choose their most-used platforms from a list that should include all the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn being the most important.

Post consistently

Once you’ve heard from your audience about where they like to “hang out” digitally, you should put some consistent effort into creating content on those platforms. Post regularly, and interact with your audience rather than just posting content at them. 

Success on social requires consistency and commitment, so make sure to give it a legitimate effort if you hope to create engagement on those channels!

Consider who you’re targeting

The approach you take on different social channels will likely vary. You may wish to have a presence on all the big social platforms, but you shouldn’t simply share the exact same content on each one.

Facebook can be a more casual platform aimed at a wide range of audiences. Older people are more likely to be on Facebook than any other platform, so this can be an effective way to reach out to them.

Instagram is highly visual and generally populated by younger audiences, so this will likely be your most effective tool for connecting with recent alumni.

If you want to connect with alumni who are career-focused and well-connected, LinkedIn and Twitter may be your best bets.

Don’t forget--Alumni Nations can help you with all your content development needs for your alumni association. Contact us today to learn more about how you can improve your engagement on your social channels!

The Power of Swag: Merchandising Your Alma Mater

Just about every kind of organization or business, including alumni associations, can benefit from the use of swag (“stuff we all get”) as a marketing tool.

After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?

The power of alumni associations using swag is that both current students and alumni are likely to hold on to the swag, because it will contain branded images, logos and colors of their school, which is a big part of who they are. 

But what are the most effective types of swag for generating interest in your organization? Here are a few ideas.

  • Keychains: Just about everyone uses a keychain. Because it’s an item that people take with them everywhere they go, people are more likely to use one with a design that has some meaning or importance for them. A keychain with branding of one’s alma mater is a natural choice.
  • School or office supplies: School-branded notebooks, pencils, pens, folders, binders and other office supplies are all great swag choices, because they have utility as well as meaning. Every time someone uses a pencil branded for your organization, it’ll be a reminder to them to consider joining!
  • T-shirts: T-shirts with your association and school’s branding are essentially walking billboards. Everyone loves free t-shirts, and they’re highly effective at getting people to feel closer to your organization.
  • Totes: Tote bags have a lot of usage, from shopping bags to gym bags and more. Much like t-shirts, they can serve as walking billboards to alert everyone who sees them to your alumni association’s existence.
  • Water bottles: Water bottles are another extremely popular swag item because of how widely used they are. They’re relatively inexpensive to customize and purchase for your organization and are a great item to pass out if you are interested in handing out something with a bit more of a premium quality.

These are just a few ideas that you can explore as you plan out your swag for the coming school year. Good luck with your marketing efforts!

Introducing Your Alumni Association to Current Students

One of the best ways to spread awareness of and raise interest in your alumni association is to make sure current students are informed about the organization long before they graduate.

The most successful alumni organizations have a constant involvement in their school district so that by the time students graduate, they know exactly what the benefits are of becoming involved in their alumni organization and how to register.

Plus, the easiest time to convince an alumnus to join an association is within the first year after they graduate. The more time and distance between them and their alma mater, the harder it can be to get them to sign up.

Here are a few tips to introduce your alumni association to current students.

  • Have a physical presence: Get involved at the school throughout the year, and have a presence at major events. Be there for Homecoming. Have informational booths at school events, such as athletic contests, concerts and performances. The more students get used to seeing you around, the more likely they will have an interest in joining when they graduate.
  • Use email: Most school districts assign students a school email address, where they will receive information from their teachers, administration and coaches. Consider sending occasional updates and information about what the alumni organization is doing. 
  • Focus on seniors: Throughout the year, consider targeting seniors with your email or social media campaigns. Be involved in various graduation-related activities, and consider a scholarship to get your alumni organization’s name prominently involved in commencement activities. As seniors sign up, make sure to get an email address from them that is unique from their school email. 
  • Welcome freshmen: You can ensure immediate awareness of your organization by making it a point to welcome freshmen as soon as they arrive to high school. Consider sponsoring freshman welcome activities, or having informational booths at freshman orientation. Although they may not be able to sign up yet, knowing you exist early on will help drive membership when senior graduation time comes around! 

Simply put, the best way to spread awareness of your organization among current students is to be involved and to give back to them. When active students see a group of alumni who still have passion in their alma mater and want to make a difference, it can be inspiring. 

How are you going to get your organization more involved in your school district this year?

It’s Never Too Early to Think About Homecoming!

It may still be August, but for most high schools around the country, homecoming happens between mid-September and mid-October. If your alumni association hasn’t started thinking about how you’ll celebrate yet, now’s the time to do so!

We’re expecting some big celebrations this year after many Homecomings had to be canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a year off from what’s usually the busiest time of year for alumni organizations (in terms of events), you might feel a little rusty with your planning.

Never fear! We’ve got some tips to help you include your alumni in your Homecoming Week traditions and get everyone feeling the school spirit.

Here are a few examples.

  • Alumni seating at the football game: For alumni who will be returning to town to watch the Homecoming game, consider setting up a special alumni seating section. This will be a great opportunity for returning alumni to all be in the same area and to catch up. It also provides opportunities for ways to get them involved in cheers or in songs with the pep band or marching band.
  • Alumni tent: Throughout the week, set up an alumni tent during Homecoming-related events with photo areas and networking opportunities. You might also include special alumni swag in these areas, as well as photos and memories of past years.
  • Alumni specific events: While it’s great to get alumni involved in the Homecoming events you’ve already got running, consider running events that are just for alumni that week. Think alumni tailgates, or an alumni mixer on the same evening the students have their Homecoming dance (or after the football game is over).
  • Invitations: When you send out invitations via mail or email, make sure you provide alumni with a full list of events that are available to attend! Include all the information you have available, including dates, times, locations, cost (if any) and what they can expect at the event.

Reach out to our team at Alumni Nations for more tips and recommendations for how you can get the most out of your Homecoming with your alumni!

Join Campaigns: Tips for More Effectively Attracting New Members to Your Alumni Organization

The start of a brand new school year is always a great time for you to kick off a new “join campaign,” or an initiative meant to drive increased membership in your alumni association. With everyone being in the “back to school” mindset and feeling refreshed and invigorated from the summer, it’s a great time to activate on that renewed feeling of school spirit and raise awareness about your organization and its benefits.

If you’re preparing a “join campaign” of your own this fall, here are a few tips to help you maximize its effectiveness!

  • Incentivize: If you really want to convince members to sign up now versus another time of the year, find ways to incentivize joining during this membership drive. Consider providing unique swag that only those who join or renew their membership during the drive can receive. Perhaps offer a special discount during the drive for first-time signups. 
  • Update your database: Make sure you’ve recently updated your database so you have a current list of targets to communicate to. This should include your recent graduates, as well as any new contacts that have expressed interest in your organization.
  • Multiple channels: Use a variety of communication channels to connect with would-be members, including email, social media, mailers, flyers and word of mouth. The more you spread out your communications, the more people you will reach.
  • Get help from alumni: Recruit ambassadors from each graduating class or each decade to help you do the heavy lifting in spreading the word, so the drive doesn’t fall on a small group of volunteers. This will also make it easier for you to reach people who might not have otherwise gotten the word!
  • Communicate with current students: Don’t forget about current students! While they aren't quite alumni yet, you should make sure they know about the alumni association before they graduate so it’s something they’ll have already thought about by the time they’re getting their diploma. This will make future membership drives even more effective, because the awareness is already there.

Contact us at Alumni Nations for more tips about running successful membership drives!

Tips for Setting Membership Tiers for Your Alumni Organization

Alumni organizations are always focused on doing everything they can to attract and retain new members. Getting these memberships is crucial because a) more people means more engagement and more successful events and initiatives and b) membership funds are a great way to bring in sustained support for the organization, so new memberships can mean new sources of revenue.

Many alumni organizations establish membership tiers, where higher-paying members receive additional perks as a way to thank and reward them for their contributions. But how do you know if the tiers you’ve set are appropriate?

Here are a few tips for setting the right membership tiers for your alumni.

  • Make sure membership is accessible: You should never make membership unaffordable to anyone who wants to join. You could, for example, offer free membership for a limited period of time for new members, or for alumni within their first several years after graduation. Paid membership tiers on the lower end of the spectrum should be reasonably affordable for people who may not be able to or want to pay for higher levels of membership.
  • Don’t underestimate large donors: On the other end of the spectrum, it’s important to remember that large donors may be willing to pay more than you think. Even if your top tier or two only get a few members, it might be worth it if the value is high enough. 
  • Offer a steady progression of tiers: Don’t jump straight from a $10 membership to a $100 membership, for example. You should set a number of steadily progressing membership tiers so people can choose the option that makes the most sense for their financial situation.
  • Make it worthwhile: Remember that increasing levels of membership should have increasing value in return. Consider the kinds of swag you can give out that will sweeten the deal, as well as exclusive perks and events. You might be able to work with the school district to find tickets to school events as well.

Contact us today to learn more about how you can establish the best membership tiers for your alumni association!

How to Make Time for Alumni Engagement

Alumni engagement should be a key aspect of the work of any alumni association. However, it’s understandable for it to be difficult to make time for it with everything else your organization has to accomplish, especially for people working with these organizations in volunteer roles. 

The good news is there are ways you can make it easier to accomplish. It all comes down to having the right tools. 

Here are a few examples of some of the tools and strategies you can use to enhance your alumni engagement to keep alumni plugged in and active in your organization.

  • Database: Having an up-to-date alumni database that allows your alumni to both update their own records and also reach out to fellow alumni. It makes it easy for people to find and catch up with each other, which is more likely to build engagement with the organization and events you hold. The databases Alumni Nations develops for all of our Nations are often considered one of the most beneficial features of our websites! 
  • Email: Get in the habit of using regular email communication with your alumni. These messages don’t have to be extensive. In fact, short and sweet is probably your best bet. This way you still keep your alumni organization top of mind with members, but you don’t have to take the time to write overly long messages. Short messages are ideal for encouraging them to take some sort of action, such as visiting your blog or registering for an upcoming event.
  • Managing expectations: It becomes much easier to make time for alumni engagement if you don’t pressure yourself into doing too much throughout the year. A single large alumni event and one large newsletter per year might be sufficient for you to get started with. You can add more from there if you are able. Setting and sticking to manageable goals like this will help you feel more accomplished and also make the task of alumni engagement much less intimidating.

Remember: we at Alumni Nations are here to help you do all the heavy lifting with your alumni engagement efforts. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization.