For private schools, and especially K-12 or 9-12 institutions, alumni weekend events are unique opportunities to leverage in-person connections into long-term relationships that can pay dividends. Whether you’re looking for volunteers, more constituent engagement year-round, or greater fundraising power, alumni weekend is the prime time to make it happen.
Prepare your school’s campus and mobilize volunteers
- This is a great time to activate your parent ambassadors. They can assist with handing out programs, greeting alumni at the door, directing foot traffic, or helping with events. You may want to appoint a social media-savvy parent to take photos and short video at each event so you can compile media for uploading to your school’s social channels both during the event and later.
- Student leaders should participate too. Maybe they can help coordinate events, perform musical numbers at get-togethers, or play in the alumni basketball game. Helping current students get involved helps alumni and their families stay connected to the school while they’re on campus.
- Alumni leadership councils or networks should be involved in the planning of special events for legacy classes, special networking time, and other on- and off-campus events. Be sure to help promote these events and ask for photos and video from the event for the school’s social media channels.
Consolidate your communication channels as the event approaches
- Promoting the event through a multi-channel approach is smart. Many schools use a combination of letters (or other print mail pieces), email marketing, phone calls, alumni-to-alumni outreach, social media invites, and so on. But for the event itself, it’s smart to have a consolidated communication channel for the master agenda, all event information, push notifications, and more. We suggest using the school’s mobile app, like FACTS Family App, so the entire school and alumni community is receiving event information in the same place.
- Be mindful that it may be the first time some alumni have attended, and they may not be aware of traditions or the usual events that take place at your school during alumni weekend. An FAQ section on your app will be helpful to guide newcomers in the right direction. Providing transportation tips, a guide to local hotels, and on-campus parking is another smart idea.
- Boost attendance and engagement at events by sending push notifications an hour before start times as a quick reminder. Also send push notifications in case of event cancellations, changes in venue, or if other last-minute changes occur. Alumni will appreciate the quick communication from the school!
Find a story and make that the appeal through-line for the weekend
- If you’re trying to boost fundraising at your school, storytelling will be your friend. Pick a theme, brand the weekend with that theme, and find compelling personal interest stories to tell around that theme throughout the events. Short videos and a social media campaign may also be effective.
- For an efficient fundraising ask, you can send a text appeal during the weekend asking alumni to text and give on-the-go in order to maximize buy-in while they’re feeling emotionally attached to the school, your story, and their own history with the institution. (Want to learn more about how to use text-to-give at your school? Check out FACTS Giving.)
- Think of ways to use alumni outside of monetary appeals. Are there volunteer opportunities that non-local alumni can participate in? Maybe they can mentor students remotely, help organize other alumni in their area, or provide a testimonial or blog post for the school. Have a form within the app that will let alumni quickly sign up for volunteer opportunities that they can do whether they still live in the area or not.
- Conduct outreach while the feelings are still fresh. If you need a boost for your capital campaign or annual fund, the month after alumni weekend is the perfect time to reach those constituents. Find those who were most engaged in your mobile app and conduct follow-up outreach. Seek out those who went out of their way to establish better one-on-one relationships with the existing school community. And, don’t forget to do a post-event survey of all participants to get their feedback and find out whether they plan on returning in subsequent years.