Chasity Cooper (@chasityscooper) is a community relations coordinator for the University North Carolina School of Government’s online public administration program, MPA@UNC.
Looking to increase engagement among young alumni this holiday season? There are many opportunities to strengthen alumni connections and raise funds through crowdfunding initiatives, alumni clubs and the use of social networks. The holidays are a great opportunity to reach out to younger graduates and remind them how valuable they are to your institution. Here are three ways colleges and universities can encourage young alumni to connect and give back during the holiday season.
1. Crowdfunding Projects
Crowdfunding projects use online networks to encourage supporters to fundraise on an organization’s behalf. Crowdfunding is changing the face of fundraising—and providing a new avenue for young alumni to support their colleges and universities. According to Crowdfund Capital Advisors, the crowdfunding sector is expected to grow about 92 percent by the end of 2013, with an anticipated net gain of $4 billion. Since young alumni are embedded in the online culture that powers some of crowdfunding’s most successful endeavors, crowdfunding can reach a large population of potential donors and entice them to support your efforts.
There are a wide variety of crowdfunding sites that have already been developed to support educational institutions. Alumni can either participate in a crowdfunding project that has already been established or start one of their own through a variety of crowdfunding resources, including Kickstarter, Crowdcube, indiegogo and Crowdfunder.
2. Local Involvement in Alumni Clubs
Alumni clubs provide a great opportunity for young alumni to build relationships with alumni of all ages, participate in a variety of activities and give back to their school. Phillips Exeter Academy, highlighted in the Fourth Annual Survey of Social Media in Advancement, created a young alumni program that includes the current senior class through alumni that have graduated within the last 15 years. Exeter’s Giving Thanks Club has been especially effective in encouraging alumni involvement. Thank you notes written by students were posted in a collective graphic on Tumblr, and YouTube videos were created to spotlight students giving individual thank you messages to donors. The result was an authentic fundraising campaign that provided evergreen gratitude messaging that could be used throughout the year.
3. Social Media Engagement
Most institutions have very active social media engagement strategies. Social media is used as a powerful tool to engage students upon admission and throughout their years of enrollment to build the foundation for a relationship that will last well beyond graduation. Through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, young alumni can remain engaged with their classmates by organically sharing memories with their peers and nurturing relationships that will be valuable down the road as these alumni become online ambassadors for their institution’s fundraising efforts.
Whatever method you choose to engage young alumni, make sure it’s relevant and portrays a valuable use of their time. By using a combination of tactics that fit your organization’s needs and goals, you can transform prospective donors—including young alumni—into advocates for your organization.