A New Reality: Alumni Engagement During COVID

Schools I work with are frequently asking me how peer institutions are engaging with alumni as the pandemic extends into the fall/winter. Below I’ve captured a few ways our customers are interacting with alumni.

  • Entertainment Nights: Your alumni are talented individuals. One school is mobilizing its alumni to provide Zoom entertainment from cooking classes (just send a grocery list ahead of time!) or live music performances to allow alumni to interact and have a change of pace while being stuck inside.
  • Master Classes/Speaker Panels: During this time, some people are seeking distractions, a change of pace, a new way of thinking. Create a mini speaker series or master class on specific topics that might engage alumni of various ages, careers and interests. Better yet, encourage students to join in the conversation and grow the strength of your community and connections across class years. One topic a school recently focused on was the impact of technology and society. When you combine conversations across industries- those working in the tech field, with teachers, psychologists, and other businesses, the conversation can be fascinating!
  • Empower Local Communities: You might not be able to host in person events, but people are still seeking COVID safe activities to complete in their area. Wavelength had a customer search for geographic hot spots of large numbers of constituents in one area. From there, they worked with some alumni owners of small businesses to provide discounts to local alumni to their stores- take out at restaurants, outdoor fitness classes, mini gift baskets at a bookstore. They promoted their alumni’s businesses all while embracing the school community.
  • Parent Support: Consider how much your school is doing to support its students (and in turn their parents). You have a large contingency of your alumni base who are parents themselves. Providing resources and ideas to keep students active and engaged through COVID (whether you are remote, hybrid, or in person) might be useful to them as well!

Before you start, gauge alumni interest: To be most relevant to your constituents, ask them what they are seeking! Whether it is to the whole base or to some trusted few, listening to your alumni needs is valuable. We have had several schools reach out to their alumni to determine what styles of communication and engagement people are looking for. Simply brainstorm a list of options (I’m sure you have several ideas already or use some from the above!) and ask. It isn’t worth pulling together remote reunions, book clubs, and game nights if people aren’t interested…

Do you have more ideas about how to engage with alumni during COVID? Email katie@searchwavelength.com