One of the most successful ways to boost alumni relations is through events and experiences. Since the pandemic, more alumni professionals are delivering such programs virtually.
Virtual events pose a unique challenge: connecting with alums to encourage giving is significantly more challenging through a screen. How can your institution stand out and use digital experiences to achieve fundraising goals?
We’ll break down the current issues with alumni engagement as they relate to the virtual experience, and we’ll offer three ways you can create memorable events that boost donations.
The Current Issues With Alumni Engagement
Virtual events are increasing in popularity, a phenomenon that holds true for alumni events. With graduates spread across the globe, hosting digital experiences to boost alumni engagement brings everyone together.
Unfortunately, alumni giving has been on a steady decline in recent years. The reason why is complex, but as virtual events become more routine, those who host digital experiences face an even more significant challenge when it comes to engaging alums and boosting fundraising. How can you create a sense of nostalgia and connection through a computer screen?
A 2017 study found five factors that most significantly influence alumni identity, a component of alumni relations strongly related to one’s likeliness to donate. In order of influence, these factors are:
- Volunteering for the alma mater
- Being part of the school’s LinkedIn group
- Liking the school’s Facebook page
- Going to a school-sponsored event
- Receiving and reading an email newsletter from the college
Of those five factors, three relate to digital engagement, and the fourth factor reminds us of the power of alumni experiences.
Creating engaging remote experiences for alumni is essential if universities want to generate as many donations as possible. We’ll tell you just how to do that.
Ideas For Driving Engagement With Alumni Digital Experiences
First, let’s mention what factors make up a successful experience that will boost alumni engagement. Your digital events should all achieve the following:
- Offering nostalgic connections to the institution
- Holistic experiences, not only screen time
- Responding to present-day needs
Let’s dive into these further.
Idea 1: Generating Nostalgia
The one aspect of someone’s college experience that is unique to your institution is a sense of nostalgia associated with the school.
Whether this is related to school traditions, professors, study spots, local culture, or anything else, the better you can incorporate this into virtual events, the more connected alumni will feel.
Consider an event that centers around your university’s unique history or traditions. You can enlist someone to give a presentation that educates alumni on how particular practices came to be or what the campus was like during a specific historical period.
Idea 2: Offering Unique Experiences
Beyond offering virtual events, you want to use true remote experiences to boost alumni relations.
What distinguishes an experience from an event is that an experience goes beyond the screen.
A lecture on the history of basketweaving by a revered professor would be an event; however, sending alumni a basketweaving kit and walking them through the basics during the lecture constitutes an experience.
Whether the experience includes cooking, exercise, alcohol tasting, knitting, or anything else, brainstorm ways to go beyond the screen to boost alumni engagement.
Idea 3: Addressing Alumni Needs
The more you can make your alumni feel heard, the more they’ll connect with their university and be inspired to give.
Some of the most successful alumni digital experiences address present-day alumni needs. During the pandemic, schools that could support alumni during periods of high unemployment are far more likely to receive reciprocal donations in the future.
Consider the needs of your alumni as they are right now. If you don’t know, ask! From there, brainstorm ways to support your alums and go beyond traditional alumni relations to better maintain a connection.
Digital Alumni Experiences Require The Right Platform
The success and quality of your digital experiences depend largely on the platform you choose to enable them. You’ll want to find a tried-and-true platform to help you with all aspects of hosting digital experiences, from signups to video streaming to attendee security.
Need help deciding which platform to choose? Check out EventEngage. Our reliable, all-in-one digital experience platform will help you host the best alumni events possible to exceed your donation goals. Learn more today!