CCS Fundraising was pleased to partner recently with AROPS – The Schools’ Alumni Association to discuss strategies for staying engaged with alumni during this extraordinary period. A recording of this discussion with accompanying slides can be accessed here.
COVID-19 has magnified the opportunity for schools and alumni associations to become the conveners of alumni engagement. People are eager for a sense of community and purpose, increasing the value and need for strategically planned engagement and authentic communication.
Actions taken now and throughout the crisis will help to define how alumni regards schools and associations in the long-term.
To maximise the success of your engagement plans, CCS recommends focusing on the following five areas:
- what you would like your alumni programme to accomplish
- whether there are clearly defined benefits for the school community – alumni, pupils, parents, and friends
- by which simple metrics you will measure progress
- Segmentation of your database is part and parcel of everyday alumni engagement – consider how you might adjust segmentation through a COVID-19 lens
- Tailor outreach and communications channels to alumni subsets based on their needs and preferences
- Identify new tools and resources available, especially if staff numbers and budget have decreased
- Utilise existing volunteer groups
- Recruit the support of new volunteers – this is an opportunity to develop your network and identify some of your greatest advocates
- Update your website with information on COVID-19 impact and response – virtual teaching, online resources, examinations
- Increase the number of bulletins/e-newsletters sent
- Ensure frequent social media posts
- Begin highlighting plans for a gradual return to new normal
- Share news on future-focused projects (where appropriate)Activities
- Facilitate online gatheringsg. reunions – coach alumni on use of platforms and/or allow use of school technology
- Set up special briefings (webinars/podcasts) by alumni experts (e.g. medics, data scientists, economists, politicians) on the crisis and its implications or managing its impact
- Deliver scheduled events and activities online (graduation ceremonies, Church services, speech day)
Calls to Action
- Recruit volunteers to assist in checking in with self-isolating alumni
- Ask alumni to dedicate some of their time at home to looking for old photographs/sharing uplifting or ‘memory lane’ stories
- Actively seek feedback
- Survey alumni to determine their needs, interests, and their feedback on how you are doing
- Request financial support from alumni (where appropriate) to:
- Provide for pupils whose parents are in financial difficulty
- Set up bursaries that encourage international applications
- Continue planned upgrades to ensure financial health into the future
- Create a calendar of touchpoints and activities for the next two to three months
- Monitor progress weekly
- Be flexible – government guidance will determine what people are interested in/concerned about
Many individuals working with alumni have wondered whether this is an appropriate time to reach out to their constituents. The answer is a resounding “yes” – in many ways, the work of alumni associations and in-school professionals is more relevant now than ever.
Authentic communication and engagement are the foundation for long-term relationships. And remember, those who truly feel part of the school community give back to it, financially and as volunteers and ambassadors.