Alumni/ae are vital to your fraternity or sorority’s continued growth, so keeping them engaged is crucial. However, after alumni/ae have graduated and started to establish themselves professionally and personally, boosting alumni/ae engagement and relationship building can become more challenging. Not to mention that you need to manage relationships between hundreds of alumni/ae at a time.
That said, you can make a huge difference in your alumni/ae relationship-building success by reframing how you engage with them. It’s beneficial to think of it like a give-and-take connection: you give your alumni/ae resources and updates, and they’ll give you their attention and fundraising support. These four tips will help you improve your alumni/ae relations:
- Gauge your current approach
- Separate your cadences into “official” and “unofficial” streams
- Keep alumni/ae contact information fresh
1. Gauge your current approach
The first step to gauging your alumni/ae engagement habits is to understand where you stand currently and why. You can create a foundation for your team to build upon by:
- Conducting an audit of your current strategies
- Analyzing engagement metrics like email open rates
- Collecting qualitative alumni/ae feedback
- Working with a sorority and fraternity alumni/ae relations professional
There are any number of reasons why your alumni/ae might be disengaged, including a lack of personalized communication, limited chances to get involved, underuse of preferred communication channels, or personal life changes. Identify why alumni/ae are disengaged through your research and structure your strategies accordingly.
2. Separate your cadences into “official” and “unofficial” streams
Official alumni/ae communication cadences are the avenues of communication that represent your chapter as a whole, in an official capacity. Making your official communications consistent, informative, effective, and emotional is key to strengthening your connection with alumni/ae. These tips can help you improve your approach to official communication with alumni/ae:
- Hire a chairperson. Dedicate the most resources to your alumni/ae communications strategy by hiring a chairperson to manage your official cadences. Your chairperson should be knowledgeable about fraternity and sorority alumni/ae relations management and understand your chapter’s mission, making an alumni/ae themselves a great fit for the role. If you don’t want to hire someone in-house, working with a professional fraternity or sorority alumni/ae relations consultant is another way to enhance your official cadences.
- Create an alumni/ae newsletter. Updating alumni/ae about the current state of your chapter and their fellow alumni/ae can inspire them to engage with you. Newsletters are a visually engaging, digestible way to keep alumni/ae in the loop. Tailor your newsletter content to alumni/ae interests, featuring information such as current events at your university and achievements from their brothers or sisters.
- Leverage multiple channels. While you might opt for email as a default channel, remember that your alumni/ae base includes people of many different ages and communication preferences. Examine engagement metrics on channels such as email, direct mail, text, and social media to see which are the most popular.
- Create an alumni/ae website. Create an online digital hub dedicated to alumni/ae communications and ongoing fundraising campaigns so alumni/ae can check in on your chapter any time. Develop a schedule for updating biographical data, alumni/ae achievements, and alumni/ae giving recognition.
Taking a holistic approach to improving sorority and fraternity alumni/ae relations means you need to assess all of the ways you interact with them, even outside of formal channels. Informal communications are those that aren’t planned or happen organically outside of a formal channel. For instance, you might informally communicate with alumni/ae via channels like:
- Social media
- In-person chats
Though these interactions aren’t the main basis of your strategy, remember that no informal connection is too small to log in your alumni/ae database. For example, if you get frequent direct messages on social media from an alum, keep track of when they reach out and what you talked about so you can shape formal communications in the future. These genuine interactions help build your alumni/ae network’s trust in your chapter and start engaging with formal communications.
3. Keep alumni/ae contact information freshThe crux of your alumni/ae relations strategy is the quality of your alumni/ae data. Keeping everything organized in a database tailor-made for alumni/ae outreach is key to reaching as many people as possible.
However, simply using a database isn’t enough to achieve data hygiene. Here are some tips for how to manage your alumni/ae data:
- Ask alumni/ae for new contact information. Go straight to the source by asking alumni/ae to update their contact information after interacting with your chapter. For instance, if they donate to your capital campaign, you can configure your database to store their most recent contact information in their profile.
- Professionally append alumni/ae data. If you can’t get in contact with your alumni/ae, try working with a data append service to fill in the gaps. These providers will source the most recent contact information for your alumni/ae network.
- Regularly audit your database. First, ensure that your data entry practices are standardized across your team. Then, set a regular database review cadence where you can consolidate duplicate records and delete outdated ones.
Sorority and fraternity alumni/ae relations are give-and-take. Many alumni/ae are happy to give to the chapter that shaped their college years. However, that means you need to do your part to make them feel welcomed and heard in your community. Once your alumni/ae feel appreciated and connected to your chapter, you can help them build a legacy and impact current and future members to come.