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One of the biggest challenges that universities face? Knowing how to successfully engage with their alumni both on-and-offline.
Alumni are some of your university’s most important supporters. Without these key donors and volunteers, your institution would have a hard time accessing the resources it needs to thrive.
Luckily, every student who walks your halls will one day be an alumnus and as long as you put the right engagement strategies in place, you’ll be sure to hang onto these dedicated supporters long after they graduate.
The key to keeping in touch with alumni supporters even after they transition into their post-graduate careers? In the 21st century, smart alumni engagement depends upon having the right social media strategies in place to make meaningful connections with them.
Does your university know the ins and outs of smart social media engagement with your alumni community? If your school wants to better engage with alumni through social media, you should:
- Call on alumni to serve as peer-to-peer fundraisers
- Establish alumni team crowdfunding for your school
- Collect alumni engagement data through surveys
Can’t wait to learn more about effective alumni engagement using smart social media strategies? Let’s dive in!
1. Call on alumni to serve as peer-to-peer fundraisers
The ultimate goal of your alumni engagement strategy is to build a more reliable community of alumni supporters that your school can count on to help you reach your fundraising goals.
Traditionally, this means that your school will eventually extend solicitations to these supporters for various financial gifts. However, not all of your alumni are able to give back directly to you school.
For many, regularly donating to one’s alma mater simply isn’t in the cards. Especially when it comes to your alumni who have recently graduated, making donations to your school may not be in their budget.
When alumni feel this way (especially recent graduates), they may not be excited to stay in touch with your school and can’t be counted on as supporters when they are able to give back down the line.
However, there’s one form of social media fundraising that your school can leverage to make giving back accessible to your alumni who may not have a large giving capacity: peer-to-peer fundraising.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a kind of crowdfunding strategy powered by the reach of your supporters on social media. Individuals set up fundraising pages on behalf of your school and then call on their friends, family, and other members of their network to make donations.
The fundraising pages that they create feature their name and image front-and-center, and peer-to-peer fundraisers are the ones who keep up the giving momentum by making posts, sharing videos, and calling their network to action.
Because page visitors associate their friend (or family member, or co-worker, etc.) with the campaign, they’re more likely to give than if they didn’t have a connection with your university.
For any alumni who cannot personally give back, encouraging them to create a peer-to-peer fundraising page and share it on social media is an excellent way to leverage their support into fundraising success.
Even better? When you show your alumni peer-to-peer fundraisers that you appreciate their support, they’re more likely to feel positively about their alma mater and be keen to make a personal donation down the line when they can afford it.
2. Establish alumni team crowdfunding for your school
Another way to engage alumni on social media and boost your fundraising efforts is by setting up team crowdfunding pages.
Team crowdfunding is like peer-to-peer fundraising, but instead of setting up personal fundraising pages that raise money on behalf of your school, these pages are run by fundraising “teams.”
Let’s take a look at a few ways your school can engage with alumni through team crowdfunding on social media.
Supporting campus associations
One common way that universities leverage team crowdfunding online is by setting up different crowdfunding teams for various student associations.
These crowdfunding teams might include:
- Sports teams
- Campus clubs
- Educational departments
- Academic cohorts
- Graduating classes
- And more!
Many alumni are hesitant about giving an unrestricted donation to your school as a large organization. People want to know where their money is going, how it will be put to use, and who will be in charge of making their gifts count.
By setting up crowdfunding teams segmented by different campus associations to which they have a personal connection, your alumni are more likely to feel excited to make a gift.
Alumni crowdfunding teams
In addition to crowdfunding teams based on different campus organizations, your school can also set up teams for different alumni groups.
These groups might be based on graduating class, different majors, professional associations, and more.
By joining an alumni-centric crowdfunding team, your former students will feel more of a connection to your school in the long run, as well as a greater connection to their fellow alumni.
When they engage with their crowdfunding team, alumni will be able to keep each other motivated and excited to raise money for your cause.
Even better? Your school can have alumni crowdfunding teams “face-off” in good-natured challenges.
Set fundraising goals and deadlines for different alumni fundraising teams and offer prizes to the winners. Not only will giving back be more exciting for your alumni by fundraising this way, but they’ll also have more of a reason to keep coming back to fundraise in the future.
Bonus! Learn more university crowdfunding strategies with our top tips to maximize your school’s crowdfunding platform.
3. Collect data through alumni engagement surveys
Engaging with your alumni on social media can sometimes seem daunting. Since nearly everyone is on social media in some form, your school can bet that it will be tough to compete for alumni attention.
Making these meaningful connections is all about knowing your alumni supporters as well as possible. When your school has reliable social media data tracking engagement with your alumni, you can then tailor your outreach strategy to these important individuals.
The more closely your engagement efforts align with their preferences and habits, the more likely it is your school will be able to leverage that engagement into fundraising success.
There are several ways your school should be tracking alumni data, including:
- Monitoring hashtags and keywords
- Tracking email open rates and other email messaging metrics
- Conducting A/B testing of communications channels
- And more!
However, on social media specifically, there’s another way that your university can learn large amounts of very informative alumni engagement data: alumni engagement surveys.
Alumni engagement surveys have always been a hallmark of alumni fundraising strategies for schools of all shapes and sizes. Yet, not many schools know what kind of questions you should be asking to make these surveys count.
In your university’s alumni engagement survey, be sure to ask readers questions to determine:
- Their contact information. Over the years, your school has likely collected phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, social media handles, and more. However, many of your alumni profiles may be incomplete or partially inaccurate. Be sure to have them fill out this information to keep your profiles up-to-date.
- Important campus associations. Alumni are more likely to give when they are encouraged to give to a specific campus association. In your survey, collect data on associations that are important to your alumni so you can tailor your outreach as well as encourage them to join that association’s crowdfunding team.
- Preferred social media sites. Your school might tweet regularly or keep your Facebook page updated, but if your alumni prefer a different social media site, you won’t be able to reach them. Use this survey to determine where your alumni spend their time online and how they like to use these sites.
Because individuals spend more time on social media then they do checking email or reading direct mail communications, they’re more likely to 1) encounter alumni surveys and 2) complete them when they encounter these surveys on social sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Just like you would share links to your online giving pages, your social media team should share links to easily accessible alumni surveys as a regular aspect of your engagement strategy.
Although it’s not likely that your entire alumni community will respond to the surveys, it’s important to collect as large a population sample as possible.
Once you have this data on hand, you can develop more strategic alumni engagement tactics, fundraising efforts, and projects like alumni events.
Bonus! Want to learn more alumni engagement strategies? Check out DonorSearch’s favorite alumni engagement tips that your university can leverage into smarter fundraising.
Engaging with alumni can be tough, but with smart social media strategies, it’s never been easier to translate meaningful online connections into fundraising success for your school.
Additional Alumni Engagement Resources
- Alumni Engagement Guide. Want to learn even more alumni engagement strategies? Strengthen your university’s relationships with these important supporters by checking out our ultimate alumni engagement guide.
- Fundraising Software for Higher Education. Can’t wait to get more out of your university’s fundraising efforts? Discover how MobileCause serves schools with our higher education fundraising solutions.
- Alumni Engagement Best Practices. Need even more alumni engagement strategies? DonorSearch has you covered with their top alumni engagement best practices that every university should know.