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Articles > Building Your Community > Delivering an online alumni events plan for the Covid-19 era & beyond: An IDPE Live 2021 roundup

Delivering an online alumni events plan for the Covid-19 era & beyond: An IDPE Live 2021 roundup

Hear from the development team at Concord College on the ups and downs of delivering a programme of virtual engagement for their alumni community, during an unpredictable era

Development teams around the UK have done a phenomenal job to take events programmes turned on its head by COVID, and pivot towards virtual alternatives as quickly as they have done in the last year. For some schools, such as Concord College, an international school based in the UK with a global alumni network, virtual events became a brilliant way to keep their community connected from afar. At the 2021 IDPE conference, Joshua Coffey & Laura Kingsley shared their tips for delivering an impactful events programme; read the highlights below.

While Concord’s open-door policy had to change, they wanted to keep the focus on the college as the one shared factor across the community, considering their global and diverse alumni network. Being able to host virtual events and bring their community together in this way enabled ‘the show to go on’, and brought some optimism and connection to the situation. 

They shared some of the advantage and challenges they found in delivering an engaging virtual events programme, throughout the recent period of time: 

Pros - 

  • Restrictions do differ globally, but virtual event delivery is relatively unaffected
  • More people are online more often, for pre/during/post event engagement 
  • You can get support from your alumni community (Concord ambassadors)
  • It gives you the opportunity to try something new in terms of event topics/formats
  • Bigger potential audience sizes created a stronger sense of community

Cons - 

  • Dealing with global sensitivities around differing local experiences/limitations
  • You can’t maintain the physical connected to Concord, by hosting at the College
  • There’s a lot of uncertainty in event planning and delivery, with many being postponed

COVID has challenged the norms, and forced people to slow down, but has also naturally increased online usage. Concord College found that one of the key steps for success was to rethink their segmentation, and by using better segmentation they have achieved better open rates, click through rates and event engagement. 

Part of their segmentation approach was to make their communications feel more personal and tailored, so they introduced their alumni ambassador programme. With ambassadors now in several countries around the world, these ambassadors can email to groups of local alumni to arrange event meetups and receive feedback about their experience in the alumni community. To ensure that this met data protection rules, they updated their consent preferences in their ToucanTech community system to include an opt-out from being contacted by their local alumni ambassadors. 

As part of bringing their whole school community together, they started to involve the alumni community in the day-to-day going on of the college, for example, they have a strong community of medics at the college, so took the opportunity to connect student and alumni medics and offer support through mock interviews. 

One of their most popular events was the streaming of their annual concert, which is usually live streamed to parents & alumni around the world, and this year alumni were invited to share their reflections on the past year, which showed current students how alumni remain a part of the community, and provided a unique opportunity to engage former students. 

They have continued to support their community engagement using social media to drive traffic to their online community, by sharing ‘then & now’, #throwbackthursday and #flashbackfriday posts to help connect different parts of the alumni network, and to create a sense of nostalgia & share memories. Using their motto ‘‘Once a Concordian, always a Concordian’, they have proven that a community can come together even in difficult circumstances. 

To find out how you can use an all-in-one system to engage alumni, manage events and track activity, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team

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