Going the Extra Mile: 24 Innovative Alumni Engagement Ideas That Work 

As an alumni event planner, you know it takes more than standard, cookie-cutter events to keep alumni engaged. While traditional alumni engagement strategies such as newsletters and fundraising appeals are still effective, many institutions are exploring new ways to connect with alumni. We can help you put together innovative events that pull a diverse crowd and leave a lasting impression with these 24 creative ways you can keep your alumni community engaged.

Virtual Meet-ups

Thanks to technology, connecting alumni from all over the world has never been easier! One of the most popular and effective ways to keep alumni relations in the modern era is through virtual events. With the pandemic making it difficult to have facilities hold in-person gatherings, many institutions have started hosting various forms of online events such as:

  • Webinars

Webinars are the perfect opportunity to connect former colleagues and students with their alma mater. Hosting regular webinars featuring different alumni will not only provide former students and universities with a fun opportunity to network, but they will also serve as a reminder of the impact alumni had on their school's culture.

  • Networking Events

Networking events have become increasingly popular as a way to engage alumni. You can host these get-togethers in person or virtually, depending on where your alumni live and their comfort level with attending physical gatherings. A good way to increase alumni engagement is to ask interested alumni to come prepared with business cards and career strategies so they can connect and build meaningful relationships with current students.

  • Virtual Reunions

Virtual reunions are more popular since they allow people from all over the world to join in on the festivities without having to worry about traveling. You can use well-known video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts for a smaller event. Or, you can organize a larger, entirely online event with a platform like Meetup and invite alumni from around the world.

Online Communities

Creating online communities is also an effective way to provide support and keep engagement with alumni. These communities can take many forms, such as Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, private message boards, etc. Online communities allow alumni to connect and share updates on their personal and professional lives.

Virtual Alumni Happy Hours

Offering virtual happy hours is an effective way to foster consistent communication and improve alumni engagement, as they take part in various professional, educational, and social get-togethers. It's an inclusive opportunity for even the most geographically dispersed of alumni, allowing them to converse and strengthen their relationships despite their distance.

Professional Development Events

Hosting professional development events can help alumni stay up-to-date on industry trends and network with other professionals in their field. These can range from panel discussions to workshops to networking receptions. By using professional networking events and providing these activities, you can ensure that alumni stay engaged with their old school and classmates.

Career Coaching

Alumni can benefit from personalized one-on-one sessions with career coaches who can help with job searching, resume building, and interviewing skills. These coaching sessions can be especially valuable for young alumni and recent graduates who are just starting their careers.

Mentorship Programs

On the flip side, alumni can return to their university as mentors and provide guidance and support to current students as they navigate their academic and professional journeys. Creating relationships between alumni and students creates a strong sense of community that lasts long after graduation.

Service Projects

By organizing service projects in local communities, alumni can give back and make a positive impact while also reconnecting with their college. This helps alumni develop leadership skills and lets them engage with their local communities.

Reunion Celebrations 

Reunions are a great way for alumni to reconnect with old friends and reflect on shared experiences. They can be anything from simple webinars to more interactive activities such as scavenger hunts, escape rooms, or trivia nights. In addition, you can ask invited alumni what types of activities they want – they may have some interesting ideas!

Student Ambassadors

Engaging alumni with current school life is a daunting task, but having current student ambassadors converse and connect with alumni on campus can be a simple solution. Student ambassadors are the perfect source of accurate, up-to-date information on campus resources - after all, they are the ones living day-to-day at the university! This way, alumni can participate in meaningful conversations with student ambassadors and gain clarity on the vibrant and dynamic university life of today.

Social Media Hashtag

Now's the time to engage alumni everywhere and spread the word about their amazing accomplishments. Create a hashtag that lets alumni proudly showcase milestones in their careers, education, or personal life for all to see. A hashtag can also share success stories that highlight alumni's achievements and shows how their education helped them get where they are today.

Social Media Takeovers

Letting alumni take the reins of your institution's social media for a day is a fun way to improve alumni engagement. With this, they get a chance to showcase their personalities on your platform, making it much more exciting. It also allows alumni to connect with current students by sharing their wisdom, knowledge, and experiences through the university's social media channels.

Invite Them Back

Inviting alumni back to the university for special events is one of the best ways to have alumni share their experiences, knowledge, and networking opportunities. Not only can they engage with current students and talk about their college experiences, but they can also provide valuable advice on career paths and encourage students to achieve their goals. Alumni gatherings are a great way to build an online community between younger and older generations of graduates who have experienced the same campus, lectures, and events.

Continuing Education

Many alumni may be interested in continuing their education, but may not have the time or resources to pursue a full-time degree. Offering continuing education opportunities for alumni can be a great way to keep them engaged with their school while also giving them valuable skills and knowledge. This can include short-term courses, online training courses, and even certificates or diplomas in specialized fields. You can offer courses in person or online so you can meet each alumni group's needs.

Special Interest Groups

Special interest groups can be formed around anything from professional networking to hobbies and passions. These programs provide an opportunity for alumni to connect with a group of like-minded individuals and stay engaged in online community in a way that is meaningful to them.

Alumni Awards

Honoring alumni who have made significant contributions to their careers, communities, or college can be a great way to make them feel appreciated and recognized. Awards can be given out at special events, such as graduation or get-togethers during the graduation year, or through newsletters and social media. This not only celebrates the success of individual alumni but also creates a sense of pride and connection to the university as a whole.

Alumni Surveys

Alumni surveys are great for getting feedback from your alumni about their experiences with the university. This information can be used to improve existing services and facilities for current students.

Alumni Directory

An alumni website or directory can be a valuable resource for your institution and your alumni support network. It helps alumni reconnect with old friends, network with new contacts, and stay up-to-date on career opportunities.

Alumni Chapters

Creating alumni chapters in different regions can help your organization stay connected with alumni who are located far from campus. These chapters can organize gatherings, service projects, and networking and engagement opportunities at campus facilities for alumni in their region. This provides a sense of community and connection to the university, even for alumni who are not able to visit campus regularly.

Alumni Blogs

Encouraging alumni to write and post blogs about their experiences with your institution can be a great way to get them engaged. This kind of engagement also lets them connect with other alumni and keep up-to-date on the university and its latest news while providing valuable insights into their own experiences with the university.

Alumni Travel Programs

Organizing alumni travel programs can be a fun and unique way to engage your alumni community and allow them to explore new destinations. As a bonus, you can organize trips to places that have a special connection to your organization or alumni network.

Philanthropic Opportunities

Many alumni are eager to give back to their alma mater, but may not know how or where to start. Providing philanthropic opportunities for alumni can encourage them to give back to their school or organization. These could be fundraising campaigns, giving societies, or even legacy giving opportunities that allow alumni to leave a lasting impact on their alma mater. A good example of philanthropic opportunities is giving days. Giving days are typically hosted online, making it easier for alumni to donate no matter where they're located. Financial contributions from current students and faculty can also be encouraged during giving days, resulting in a collective effort that benefits the entire university.

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours allow you to showcase new developments or improvements on campus to alumni who are unable to visit in person. You can provide 360-degree views of new buildings, classrooms, or even a full-on virtual tour. Alumni who can't visit the college can still be engaged and get a close look at their alma mater through technology.

Expert Speakers Series

Hosting a series of expert speakers on campus engages alumni with topics that are relevant to their personal and professional lives. Bring in alumni who are experts in their fields to speak on topics ranging from leadership to entrepreneurship to sustainability. This is an amazing chance for alumni to build relationships and stay informed on the latest developments in their field.

Online Fundraising Campaigns

Hosting online fundraising campaigns can be an effective way to engage alumni and raise money for your institution. These campaigns can be organized around specific projects or initiatives and can be promoted through social media and other online communication channels.

Give Them a Great Time!

Ultimately, alumni engagement is about creating a sense of community and shared identity, and these innovative ideas offer new and exciting ways to do just that. Institutions that are willing to go the extra mile in their alumni engagement efforts will reap the rewards in the form of increased giving and financial contributions, greater brand recognition, and a strong sense of loyalty from their alumni network. With these creative ideas for engaging alumni, you’ll be able to keep them connected for many years to come.