Sometimes engagement is a slow build—for both the alumnae being engaged and the ones doing the engaging.
Of course, all engagement builds on past successes, and should be a cumulative effort toward consistently achieving goals.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on every engagement strategy for months at a time, or that the strategies you enact today can’t have a meaningful impact.
Think of it this way.
Every day not spent building alumnae participation in your sorority chapter’s culture and growth is a wasted opportunity.
While long-term engagement goals get worked through and hammered out, there are some things alumnae can do right now.
You may think you already have your engagement strategies in place.
Or you may find yourself chasing each exciting new idea that comes along.
New ideas and new research may guide you in different directions down the stretch, but there are also some tried and true strategies proven to improve engagement.
And either way, it’s important to always reexamine past and current strategies, to try to improve.
Hey, no one said engagement was going to be easy. With the current landscape of alumnae involvement, it’s only getting harder. That doesn’t mean you can’t still build a better tomorrow for your chapter.
Here are Pennington & Company’s 4 Easy Sorority Alumnae Engagement Solutions.
4. Get Alumnae on the Phone
Our modern world isn’t fond of real, honest-to-goodness telephone conversations. Phone calls grow increasingly rare as texts and social media posts dominate communication.
You may think this means alumnae don’t want to receive your calls and would rather get a Tweet or an email.
Making that assumption would be a big mistake. Here's why.
In an increasingly data-driven world, the sound of a real human voice over the line becomes a commodity. Showing you care by taking the time to reach out, versus choosing one of the easier, more immediate methods online, can make a huge impact.
So call your fellow alumnae. Here are a few reasons to pick up the phone:
You’re inviting her to an event you think would interest her.
You haven’t reached out in a while and are making a personal connection.
You heard about her recent accomplishment and want to feature her in a newsletter or other alumnae pub.
There’s a conference coming up. Is she going? Does she want to split a hotel?
There’s a volunteer role she’d be perfect for.
The chapter is fundraising, and you think her contribution could make a difference.
You’re thanking her personally for her charitable giving.
Undergrad sisters may try to convince you that text is best. And they probably believe that’s true among their generation. But even they would be happy to receive a call from those who care, whether they’ll admit it or not.
When it comes to alumnae, a phone call can make a huge difference in volunteer and donor retainment.
3. Invite Them to Events They’d Actually Go To
Sometimes we go with the “throw darts at the wall and see what sticks” method.
That translates to inviting all alumnae to every event, regardless of their age, location, interests, or anything else.
The problem with this approach is that after a while, getting a bunch of invites to events you don’t plan on attending leads to frustration—or worse, you tune out entirely.
Be proactive with a results-oriented strategy to upping alumnae event attendance.
For instance, decide what demographics might be most interested in certain events, and invite them or even ask them to serve volunteer roles.
Find out where alumnae live, and when possible hold events close to them.
When alumnae who normally would be interested in certain events aren’t attending, sit down with them and ask why. The answers may enlighten you.
When all else fails, hire an event photographer. If alumnae know they’ll see their pictures posted in association with a chapter or alumnae event, they may change from a “maybe” to a “yes.”
2. Fundraise Often, Fundraise Smart, and Offer Giving Options
Fundraising is perhaps one of the toughest elements of alumnae engagement. Sometimes this is because alumnae don’t hear anything from their chapter for months and months, and then suddenly they need money.
Note: It’s not that alumnae think they’re being asked for money TOO OFTEN.
It’s that they’re ONLY being asked for money.
The solution: Make alumnae giving a normal, practical part of engagement.
How do you do that, exactly?
Start by running annual capital campaigns and building them into existing sorority engagement strategies.
Focus on high-priority chapter goals so alumnae will see their gifts as valuable and having a positive impact.
Rather than seeking one-time, large gifts from donors, offer recurring monthly giving of smaller, piecemeal amounts.
Get them to commit to these gifts over the course of a year or longer.
You won’t get all the cash up front, but our research shows you’ll get more overall by playing the long game, and by getting started doing that now.
1. Consult the Engagement Pros
Alumnae are a proud bunch, and often for good reason. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve respect.
When someone comes in saying they can engage and fundraise better than you can, it might have you a little up in arms at first. Your alumnae board has its own way of handling things. What can an outsider tell you that you don’t already know?
Here’s why we think you should consult sorority engagement professionals:
Your resources are divided on many chapter-related tasks, only a few of which are fundraising and peer engagement. Outside professionals have focused time, energy, and research specifically on how to bring alumnae back into the fray, and how to meet your capital campaign goals.
Outside professionals may be able to help you realign your current strategies so they’re more effective than ever. Think of it like a tune-up from a mechanic.
Capital campaigns can take a long time to bring to completion. Volunteer roles might change hands, and dynamics within an alumnae organization might evolve over that period. The pros can lend consistency to your engagement and fundraising project success.
Pennington & Company are sorority fundraising professionals who’ve helped chapters just like yours achieve their goals. Interested in how we can help with your alumnae engagement? Get in touch to learn more.
What questions do you have about sorority engagement strategies? Which strategies do you find most effective? Let us know in the comments below.