The Wheeler School, located in Rhode Island, USA, is an inspiring independent school for students from preschool through to twelfth grade. With an alumni community dating back over 100 years, they have recently launched a new online community to connect their global network.
Here are 3 ways they have been engaging with their alumni:
Having not reached out to their whole alumni network in some time, last fall the Wheeler team took the opportunity to facilitate a listening survey. They asked how alumni wanted to be affiliated with the school, and how they saw themselves in relation to the school. They incentivized people to answer the survey with merchandise, and worked with a consultant to design questions that would help to best understand current alumni views. From this survey, they received feedback that alumni wanted to be more connected to each other, and this led to the launch of their new online alumni community.
The Wheeler School launched their very first online community in May 2021, with the aim of engaging more of their alumni community who were living globally or out of state. The pandemic helped them to realise the value of having one online platform to share updates, invite alumni to events and facilitate networking in their community. 200 members have already signed up after just one email sent out to their alumni records, but they expect their upcoming reunion to boost their registrations & overall online engagement.
A big driver of sign ups has been their quarterly newsletters, which have included links to top stories and upcoming events to sign up to on the site. Currently all site content is unlocked, to share the info and images with as many people as possible. However, they are able to lock down the content so only members with an online profile can access, and will start to do this for event photos to encourage event attendees to sign up and take a look.
With a ‘double homecoming’ in October, to make up for the missed 2020 events, a large number of alumni will be visiting the school campus and engaging with the alumni relations team. They are anticipating a good turnout, with a focus this year on athletics. Alumni were invited to sign up for the events via the online community, which encouraged registrations, and were also given information about the exciting itinerary through the site.
With the homecoming event coming up, the Wheeler School have also organised a ‘reunion class gifts’ initiative, seeking increased support from reunion classes to help provide unrestricted funds for Wheeler’s highest priorities, including student scholarship support & athletics/arts programs. In previous years, alumni contributions have reached over $700,000, and enabled the school to immediately enhance and expand the programs and co-curricular opportunities available to Wheeler students. Alumni can donate online via their beautifully designed fundraising page, or by phone / mail.
"We chose ToucanTech for our new alumni platform because of its attractive design, intuitive admin functionality and tailored training - we reviewed all the best software providers on the market to find the most innovative. We've also been impressed by the detailed support from ToucanTech to help us manage our data processes and migrate our alumni records!”
Kelly Clifton, Director of Alumni Relations, Wheeler School
It’s great to see this alumni community take off online with plenty of activity already underway, and we’re excited to see how their next event will bring even more people to their online network.
To find out more about building your own online community, with an integrated CRM, email engine and database, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team.
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