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Articles > Building Your Community > Alumni engagement for all ages: The round-up

Alumni engagement for all ages: The round-up

Five top tips on engaging different generations of alumni

Your alumni community is made up of a wide range of people, linked by one common experience. Whether your alumni are connected by their school, college, or university, they are part of a lifelong global network and how you engage them will change throughout their lifetimes. While no two alumni are the same, in your development team you can employ smart tactics when engaging and communicating with different generations of alumni to help each alumni to feel valued and understood by your organisation.

The pandemic has boosted technology adoption across all ages and many have found it easier to connect online, however there are still large differences in the ways that alumni from different eras choose to connect. 

Rachel Hadley-Leonard, founder of RHLConsulting with over twenty years of experience in school development, shared some unique insights in the webinar ‘Alumni engagement for all’. She discussed strategies for connecting with each generation of alumni, top tips for writing and segmenting your communication, and how to make the ask for each generation of alumni. Check out the webinar recording here, or read on for 5 top tips from the presentation. 

1. Create a focus group of different generations

Developing relationships with a small number of alumni of different age groups and lifestyles can make a big impact. By meeting a few times a year with a focus group, you can ask their feedback on recent events, make a plan to get year groups more engaged, and find out what more you can do in your alumni relations programme. In addition, those in your focus group can become ambassadors, helping to rally up people in their network to attend events or take part in fundraising activities.

2. Match your needs to their needs

Age and lifestyle will impact how alumni want to engage with your school, so it’s important to match generational needs to what your school wants to achieve. For example, alumni in their twenties and thirties might be more focused on their career, looking for opportunities to build their network, view job vacancies and receive mentoring, whereas your school might be seeking out ambassadors to share their career journey with younger students. This is a great way to see engagement as a two-way street that benefits both your alumni and school, and helps to give back to future generations. 

3. Consider the platform you engage alumni on

Habits are changing around the way we connect online, particularly after the pandemic which saw a historic rise in digital adoption and engagement for all generations. Choosing the right platform or channel of communication to engage alumni with is as important as the content you share. While social media has its place, using a private community platform you can further facilitate networking opportunities and ensure that your content is at the top of their news feeds. 

4. Plan events around lifestyles and interests

A big part of alumni engagement tends to be centred around events, but when working in small teams it can be a challenge to organise lots of events for each generation. Focusing on a few events per year that all alumni could attend, e.g. a reunion, and then share some events that might appeal to multiple generations, e.g. a local dinner, careers talk, or virtual coffee & catch up. 

5. Don’t assume something will work: focus on the individual

While each generation and lifestyle can be broadly categorised, each member of your alumni community has their own individual journey and preferences and might not fit into the stereotype for their generation. Take a ‘trial and learn’ approach to alumni relations, with regular check-ins with your ambassadors, to find out what works. You can also share an annual or bi-annual survey to find out what alumni want to see more of. 

Growing and engaging your alumni community as they move through different lifestyle stages is easier when you have an integrated CRM and community portal, linked back to a powerful database. This enables you to track engagement and donation activity, update contact details and communicate with your alumni network. To find out more about how ToucanTech can become the all-in-one solution for your alumni relations office, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team

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