Building an Alumni/ae Network: 4 Engagement Strategies
As a fraternity or sorority headquarters director, you understand that your alumni/ae are the foundation of your organization’s continued success. However, with as many generations of alumni/ae that have joined your community over the years, it can be difficult to effectively form deep, memorable relationships with them.
Reinvigorate dormant relationships and revitalize your alumni/ae community’s passion for their national organization with these steps:
- Communicate effectively
- Host exclusive alumni/ae opportunities
- Understand why disengagement occurs
1. Communicate effectively
The common thread holding all of these steps together is maintaining frequent communication with your alumni/ae community. When creating your alumni/ae communication strategy, your approach should be:
- Consistent. Choose and stick to a schedule for your communication cadences so you stay in contact with alumni/ae regularly. For example, you could commit to posting an update to your alumni/ae website on a weekly or monthly basis.
- Visible. It goes without saying that your alumni/ae need to be able to view communications if they’re to react to and act on them. Ask alumni/ae for their preferred communication channels so you can leverage the most high-traffic channels. Also, NPOInfo recommends regularly surveying alumni/ae on their channel preferences so you can account for any preference shifts.
- Personal. Use segmentation techniques to personalize each message as much as possible. For instance, you can adapt your messages for different communication channels, such as email or direct mail, to correspond with each recipient’s preference. Don’t forget to customize the content of the message based on the alumni/ae member’s involvement with your organization, whether it’s a donor thank-you email or an invitation to an event.
- Feedback-oriented. The best way to iterate on your alumni/ae communication strategy over time is to consistently collect and analyze feedback. Send out a survey that asks alumni/ae what they like about your communication strategy and what needs improvement.
- Data-driven. You can also gain crucial feedback by analyzing alumni/ae metrics. It’s especially easy to track metrics like email open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate on digital channels. Once you understand what makes alumni/ae engage with your content, you can update your strategy accordingly.
- Accessible. Along with making communications visible, they should be accessible to those of all abilities. If you’re sending digital media, ensure that all elements follow WCAG accessibility standards, such as including descriptive alt text and using high-contrast colors.
These are only a few of the aspects that you should consider when developing your organization’s alumni/ae communication strategy. What should matter most is what resonates with your alumni/ae community, so test out various approaches until you find what works best.
2. Host exclusive alumni/ae opportunities
One of the most popular reasons for joining a sorority or fraternity is the memories and lifelong connections members will make. Reconnect your alumni/ae by hosting exclusive events for them, such as:
- A benefit auction for your national philanthropy partner
- Themed mixer where different generations of alumni/ae can interact with each other
- Volunteer outings to benefit the local community and/or your national philanthropy partner
- Career fairs, webinars, and panel discussions
- Reunion get-togethers
- Alma mater sports game tailgate
- Alumni/ae donor thank-you gala
- A fun competition, such as a golf tournament
Offering these special chances for alumni/ae to strengthen their relationships with each other fosters mutual understanding, rekindles their passion for your sorority or fraternity, and ultimately contributes to your legacy of excellence.
3. Understand why disengagement occurs
Over time, your alumni/ae might naturally drift away from your organization for numerous reasons. Inspire enthusiastic alumni/ae participation with re-engagement campaigns.
The best way to combat disengaged alumni is to understand why disengagement is occurring. Are your alumni/ae simply busy with their personal lives, or is there something else driving them away from your community? Send surveys and talk with them one-on-one whenever possible to gauge the main reasons for disengagement.
Once you’ve determined why alumni/ae are disengaging, ensure your programs evoke your organization’s core customs and values. What your organization stands for is always on your side during these campaigns.
Managing sorority or fraternity alumni/ae from multiple generations can be a challenging task. That said, as long as you have the right strategies on your side and put in the work to make real connections with them, you can secure a tradition of alumni/ae commitment that lasts long after graduation.