Best Practices to Unravel and Step up Your Alumni Engagement

Rankings, Placements, and Branding for an institution are now increasingly being facilitated with the earlier overlooked advantage – Alumni Engagement. The word has recently been a buzz in the development of Institutions expanding the influence, fundraising potential, and supporting academic and strategic goals. Meaningful Alumni Engagement also enhances the Alum by enriching personal and professional lives, fostering lifelong learning, connecting with endless opportunities as well the Student giving a wide array of services, offerings, and constant support.

NLSIU has launched the Alumni Fund for Promoting Research and Innovation which supports research projects, scholarships, and innovative initiatives by students and faculty. Alumni contributions have helped drive research advancements and create a nurturing environment for innovation within the institution. No wonder, the institution tops NIRF Rankings 2023, six years in a row. 

With this grasp of the potential upside, Institutions hoping to thrive in the coming years are prioritizing and are looking to improve Alumni Engagement. It’s not only clear that institutions view Alumni Engagement as a crucial component, but it’s also something a vast majority feel they can improve upon. According to a survey, 67% of Higher educational institutions struggle with Alumni Engagement and 27% reported that they don’t have a strategy to boost engagement. 

With domain expertise for over a decade in Alumni Relations, we’ve shared a few surefire practices that can help you engage your Alumni meaningfully.  

But first, let’s not miss out on the Common Engagement Ideas like – 

  1. Organizing meets and events because every touchpoint with Alumni is a chance to improve your engagement.
    • Alumni Events – Arranging Chapter-wise/Batch-wise reunions, Homecomings, and Get-togethers.
    • Institution meets – Inviting Alumni as honored people to Sports Fairs, Cultural Fests, Professional workshops, Convocations
    • Virtual connect – Knowledge conclaves, Mentoring sessions for students and Alumni.  
  1. Devote teams – Begin with a single POC responsible for overall planning and coordination of the events or sessions, further expanding to full-fledged and specified teams with definite purposes.
    • Student Alumni cells are powerful for Mentorship, Industry industry-ready sessions. 
    • Zonal cells to improve chapter-wise engagement.
  1. Coordinating Digital Campaigns on Social Media handles or WhatsApp groups establishing a strong online presence like – 
    • Nostalgia Quiz – By sharing small videos or pictures of the campus and asking the Alumni to guess. 
    • Thank you teacher campaigns – Inviting Alumni to express gratitude to faculty on special days like Teacher’s Day.
  1. Branding Alumni is one crucial step in your Alumni Engagement. It reinforces the sense of belonging in your Alumni. You can brand your Alumni by – 
    • Recognising Alumni Achievements, Elevating their Success stories, and bringing them on campus for Alumni Interviews and Experience sharing. 
    • Making them Alumni Ambassadors and involved in admissions, asking them to run Alumni Campaigns. Also, by incentivizing Alumni Referrals. 
    • Presenting distinguished Alumni awards for notable Alumni and Young Alumni achievers and highlighting them on website features or Magazines.
    • Supporting Alumni Entrepreneurship.
  1. Providing Alumni Services – Deals and discounts like Campus Visits using Alumni Cards, Facilities access, free lifelong library membership, etc.
  1. Round-the-clock institutional updates through monthly Newsletters and Yearbooks will always remind your presence in the busy schedules of your Alumni. 

Apart from the above mentioned, let’s dive into a few important practices that you cannot miss on for your Alumni Engagement to stand out – 

Create Personas – Having a clear and shared definition of what impact means for your institution and your alumni, understanding the different Alumni Personas, and designing your engagement strategy around their needs, and expectations by also aligning with your vision and mission is the first step. Not everyone who graduated from your institution looks for the same things. Recent graduates would look for professional support while the older ones search for lifetime connections, and know more about Alumni Persona and their needs here. Getting a sense of where your engagement with Alumni currently stands helps you to develop a stellar Alumni Engagement Strategy. To understand better, read more on The Alumni Relationship Matrix here

Show Value to your Alumni – Let your ex-students see value in engaging with the institution after they graduate, to make them respond and engage even when they are spread across the globe. Alumni would respond positively to professional development through Upskilling, Career Coaching, Workshops, Industry connects, Networking opportunities, and mentoring sessions to enhance their competencies and overall career planning. 

Developing and maintaining online career panels, job portals, or alumni-specific job boards where alumni can post or search for better job opportunities facilitates better Alumni Engagement.

Dedicated platform –  Technology has revolutionized Alumni expectations and with a dedicated platform, you can leverage directory data for advanced segmentation to create personalized, impactful Alumni experiences at scale and improve targeted communication. Having a dedicated platform and active online presence strengthens the brand identity of the institution facilitating discussions and networking, thus also driving meaningful Alumni Engagement.

An added advantage of a dedicated platform is that it eases the planning of Alumni Fundraising Campaigns and reunions. 

Early engagement – Begin engagement in student life by implementing Alumni-Student Mentoring Circles creating a collaborative and supportive environment for career guidance, Speaker Series featuring alumni who have excelled in specific industries or professions enables targeted career development, Alumni Job Shadowing and Internship Opportunities. Introducing students to the extensive benefits of Alumni Engagement at an early stage would impel them to come back once they become Alumni. One such example is the Harvard Alumni Association, which plans events throughout the year to engage undergraduate students at Harvard College with members of its alumni community.

Feedback through Alumni surveys – Regularly seeking feedback from alumni on their experiences, and preferences can help institutions formulate strategies based on their interests, priorities, and evolving needs to refine overall alumni experience tailored to the unique characteristics of the alumni community. Pursuing suggestions on Academic Curriculums and Industry inputs, thus involving Alumni in decision making would help revamp the worthwhile Alumni Engagement. 

The practice of alumni engagement continues to grow significantly in all corners. As the needs and expectations of Alumni continue to change, Alumni Engagement Strategies should continue to evolve. While it’s important to design your own strategy, it’s equally important to monitor your Alumni Engagement Strategies to stay relevant to the present trends and progress accordingly. The effort put forth in Alumni Engagement truly takes an investment, where the upfront cost pays off in a variety of ways for the institution, its students, and the Alumni. 

We, at Vaave, are on a mission to help institutions leverage the advantages of their Alumni and we are the best in handholding your Alumni Programs for you. We’ve defined 13 Alumni Engagement programs that involve the enhancement of your Institution, Alumni, and Students, like – The Institution Development Program, Alumni Services Program, Executive Hiring Program, Virtual Learning Program, Student Guidance Program, etc.