Moving Alumni Up the Engagement Pyramid: Strategies for Success

This blog is based off the Alumni Engagement Webinar. The full webinar can be found here with the activity sheet here


In the world of education, alumni engagement plays a crucial role in fostering a strong and supportive community. Engaged alumni not only contribute to the success of their alma mater through donations and support, but they also serve as valuable resources for current students and fellow graduates. However, engaging alumni can be a challenging task, especially when faced with barriers such as inaccurate data, lack of communication, and limited resources.

In this blog post, we will explore strategies for moving alumni up the engagement pyramid, from disengaged and unaware to committed and loyal. We will delve into the importance of defining alumni engagement, identifying engagement opportunities, and measuring engagement success. Additionally, we will discuss specific strategies for engaging each category of alumni, along with practical tips for tracking and measuring engagement. Let’s dive in!

Defining Alumni Engagement

Alumni engagement can take on various forms, depending on the goals and priorities of each individual and institution. It can encompass activities such as philanthropic donations, alumni participation in reunions, or even simple interactions like opening an email or liking a social media post. To effectively engage alumni, it is crucial to align the institution’s vision and definition of alumni engagement with that of the leadership team. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal.

Assessing Current Alumni Engagement Opportunities

To enhance your alumni engagement efforts, it is essential to first evaluate the current opportunities you provide for alumni to connect with your school. Take a moment to identify the touch points and interactions you currently have with your alumni. This could include homecomings, newsletters, social media posts, or larger events such as galas or giving Tuesdays.

By assessing these existing engagement opportunities, you can gain insights into what is working well and identify any gaps or areas for improvement. This evaluation will serve as a foundation for developing more meaningful relationships and engagements with your alumni.

Identifying Barriers to Alumni Engagement

While assessing your current engagement opportunities, it is also important to recognize the barriers that may hinder a complete alumni engagement program. These barriers can range from financial constraints to limitations in technology platforms or staffing resources. By identifying these challenges, you can develop strategies to overcome them and create a more effective and inclusive alumni engagement program.

Some common barriers include inaccurate or missing data, limited communication between departments, insufficient funding, and lack of shared knowledge among colleagues and leadership. By addressing these barriers head-on, you can pave the way for more successful alumni engagement initiatives.

The Impact of Data on Alumni Engagement

Data plays a crucial role in alumni engagement. To engage alumni effectively, you need accurate and complete information on your alumni. This includes contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses. Without this data, it becomes challenging to communicate and connect with your alumni in a personalized and meaningful way.

One way to obtain updated contact information is through data enrichment services. These services can help you fill in the gaps in your alumni database and ensure you have the most up-to-date information. Additionally, leveraging historical knowledge and crowdsourcing through alumni networks and parent volunteers can also provide valuable insights and data on your alumni.

The Challenge of the Disengaged and Unaware


Disengaged alumni are those who are either unaware of engagement opportunities or have lost contact with the institution due to inaccurate data. To engage disengaged alumni, institutions can implement the following strategies:

Obtaining a Full List of Alumni

Obtaining a full list of alumni is the first step in engaging disengaged alumni. This can be achieved through various means, such as digitizing yearbooks, extracting graduation years from old spreadsheets, or utilizing data enrichment services. By having a comprehensive list of alumni, institutions can ensure that no alumni are left out of engagement efforts.

Updating Contact Information

Updating contact information is crucial for re-engaging alumni who have lost contact with the institution. To obtain accurate and up-to-date contact information for their alumni, organizations can crowdsource via volunteers, use 3rd party platforms, or go directly to the source: by asking alumni. Additionally, alumni groups and networks can be a valuable resource for finding missing or updated contact information.

Crowdsourcing and Volunteer Engagement

Engaging volunteers and crowdsourcing alumni engagement efforts can be an effective strategy for re-engaging disengaged alumni. By empowering volunteers to reach out to their classmates and organize engagement activities, institutions can create a more personalized and meaningful experience for disengaged alumni. This approach not only relieves the burden on institutional resources but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride among alumni.

Motivating Sporadic Alumni

To engage sporadic alumni, institutions can implement the following strategies:

Offering Variety in Engagement Opportunities

Sporadic alumni often require a variety of engagement opportunities to maintain their interest and participation. Institutions can offer a range of activities, from social media posts to large-scale events, to cater to the diverse interests and preferences of sporadic alumni.

Personalizing Communications and Content

Personalization is key to engaging sporadic alumni. Institutions can tailor their communications and content to the specific interests and needs of sporadic alumni. This can be achieved through targeted emails, personalized newsletters, and class notes that highlight alumni achievements and milestones. By providing relevant and personalized content, institutions can capture the attention and interest of sporadic alumni.

Collecting and Sharing Class Notes

Class notes can be a powerful tool for engaging sporadic alumni. By collecting and sharing updates from alumni about their personal and professional lives, institutions can create a sense of connection and nostalgia. Class notes can be included in newsletters, alumni magazines, or even shared on social media platforms. By highlighting the achievements and experiences of alumni, institutions can foster a sense of pride and engagement among alumni.

Targeting Specific Alumni Communities

Sporadic alumni often have specific interests or affiliations that can be leveraged for engagement. Institutions can create targeted engagement opportunities for alumni communities based on factors such as sports teams, academic departments, or shared experiences. By focusing on these specific communities, institutions can provide more relevant and meaningful engagement experiences for sporadic alumni.

Empowering Committed Alumni

Committed alumni are those who regularly engage with the institution and actively participate in alumni activities. To further engage committed alumni, institutions can implement the following strategies:

Adding More Touch Points

Committed alumni are eager for opportunities to interact and engage with the alumni community. Institutions can add more touch points, such as alumni events, networking opportunities, and volunteer initiatives, to provide committed alumni with a continuous and meaningful connection to the institution.

Empowering Alumni for Self-Sufficient Activity

Empowering alumni to take the lead in engagement activities can be a powerful strategy for further engaging committed alumni. Institutions can provide platforms and resources for alumni to organize their own events, mentorship programs, or fundraising initiatives.

Leveraging Alumni Volunteers

Alumni volunteers can play a crucial role in engaging committed alumni. Institutions can leverage the expertise and passion of alumni volunteers to organize and lead engagement initiatives. Alumni volunteers can serve on alumni association boards, mentor current students, or solicit donations on behalf of the institution.

Creating Sub-Communities and Special Interest Groups

Committed alumni often have specific interests or affiliations that can be leveraged for engagement. Institutions can create sub-communities or special interest groups within the alumni community based on factors such as academic departments, sports teams, or professional interests. By creating these targeted communities, institutions can provide committed alumni with opportunities to connect and engage with like-minded individuals.

Cultivating Loyal Alumni

Loyal alumni are those who actively volunteer, sit on alumni association boards, donate regularly, and solicit donations on behalf of the school. These alumni are instrumental in the growth and success of your alumni community. To cultivate loyal alumni, it is important to mobilize volunteer-led donation requests and establish sub-communities and specialized groups.

By leveraging the networks and expertise of loyal alumni, you can create a culture of giving back and support within your alumni community. This can include mentoring programs, job boards, and targeted fundraising initiatives. By recognizing and celebrating the contributions of loyal alumni, you can inspire others to become more engaged and committed.


In conclusion, moving alumni up the engagement pyramid requires a strategic and deliberate approach. By understanding the different categories of alumni engagement, identifying barriers, and implementing targeted strategies, you can foster meaningful connections and create a thriving alumni community.

We encourage you to assess your current engagement opportunities, identify areas for improvement, and leverage the power of data and alumni networks. By implementing the strategies discussed in this blog post, you can enhance your alumni engagement efforts and create a lasting impact on your school and its alumni community