From recruitment to graduation, your fraternity or sorority plays a huge role in your members’ college experiences. In fact, the brother/sisterhood stretches on for years to come after you’ve become proud alumni of your university. But that doesn’t mean that your chapter’s alumni should become strangers after they move off campus, especially if you want to convert them into donors.
Though Pennington’s guide to alumni giving confirms that alumni giving is on the rise, you’ll only benefit from this trend if you put in the effort to keep them engaged in your chapter.
One of the best ways to engage with alumni is by planning exclusive events just for them. Reconnecting alumni with their brothers and sisters is a great way to rekindle their fond memories of their years spent in the chapter, providing the emotional basis to pay forward their support. Let’s explore some general best practices before jumping into the most effective event structures for igniting your alumni’s passion for your chapter’s success.
Alumni Event Management Tips
No matter what event you decide to host, there are some best practices that you should always follow, such as:
- Budget ahead of time. Every event has unique needs, so account for your expenses beforehand and stick to your budget.
- Maintain your contact data. Your alumni can’t attend your event if they don’t know it’s happening! That’s why preserving your contact database is critical. According to Double the Donation’s email append guide, there are appending services that can help you fill in the gaps in your contact information so alumni get your event invitations.
- Organize your team. You should take an all-hands-on-deck approach to running your events. Management software can get your entire chapter on board and in the loop with messaging features so your events go smoothly.
Leveraging any available resources, such as personnel and software, is critical for creating a positive event experience for you and your attendees. Staying organized and professional will help you build trust with your alumni, making them more likely to donate.
Now that you know some event management basics, let’s explore some effective events for engaging your alumni and encouraging them to give.
Ask Alumni for their Opinion
A surefire way to throw events that your alumni will love is by asking them which events they’d like to attend.
Start by contacting your existing alumni who have previously attended your events. Survey them about which events they’d attend again and which they find less interesting. Don’t forget to ask them why they liked or disliked your events, as this provides important context for your planning.
Once you collect this feedback, send out a survey to your less involved alumni. These could be newly graduated alumni or those who haven’t attended events before. Ask them which events they’d like to see added to the calendar and why they think it would be a good fit for the chapter. This group’s opinion is important because they’re the ones you need to acquire for sustainable growth.
Now that you’ve surveyed all your alumni, merge your findings and determine which ideas are the most promising and popular. Don’t forget to compare this information with your budget to determine which choices are financially feasible.
Offer Irresistible Perks
Throwing a boring event might turn off your alumni from donating to your chapter. So, now that you know which events you’re going to put on, it’s time to sweeten the deal with exciting perks for attendees. Here are some add-ons you can leverage to make your event a smashing success:
- Live entertainment
- Catered food
- Goody bags
- Branded chapter merchandise
- Sports/concert tickets
Along with these material and experiential perks, you can offer value to your attendees in the form of relationship-building. One of the leading reasons your alumni joined your chapter is to access networking opportunities. So, consider leveraging this by hosting a professional development event for your brothers or sisters to meet each other. They’ll gain professional connections and exclusive skill-building opportunities that will help them see the value of your chapter.
Try Different Event Formats
In the past few years, in-person meetings have shifted from being the primary event format to just one of a few options. New technological advances enable your chapter to involve more alumni in your events than ever before.
Offer your alumni flexibility and accessibility by hosting a fully digital or hybrid event. By incorporating an online event component, you can navigate around time and distance constraints and involve alumni from around the world to participate. Plus, with affordable web conferencing software solutions on the market, your fraternity or sorority will likely save big on venues, catering, and other expenses.
Here are some easy and effective event ideas that lend themselves well to digital and hybrid formats:
- Networking workshops
- Happy hours
- Alma mater sports watch parties
- Meet-and-greets with current chapter members
- Game nights
- Professional webinars and panels
While in-person events are the classic solution for meeting your brothers and sisters face-to-face, these new event formats present an invaluable opportunity to boost your attendance. If you’re feeling nervous about launching a digital event, don’t worry – you don’t have to be a tech wizard to use user-friendly platforms like Zoom, WebEx, Skype, and Google Meet. They all have intuitive interfaces and provide detailed customer support options.
Remember that one of your primary objectives in hosting these events is to boost your chapter’s alumni giving. So, don’t be afraid to promote your fundraising efforts at these events and provide multiple ways to contribute, whether it’s online, in-person, by mail, or even by a mobile wallet app like Venmo.
When your event finishes, your work isn’t done! Collecting feedback from your attendees after the event is crucial for continuous improvement. Survey your attendees after the event to see what they liked and what should change in the future.
Also, don’t forget to express your gratitude to all of your attendees for coming, regardless if they gave or not. Send a thank-you email personalized with the alum’s name and event attended to show that you value their ongoing support.
Ultimately, no matter the graduating class, your alumni emotionally connect with your chapter, which is a valuable fundraising resource. Reuniting brothers and sisters years after graduation can reignite their passion for your chapter and make them want to return the support they got as students.