Your young alumni are your future major gift and planned giving donors, but only if you engage with them early and in an appropriate manner. First of all, it is important to establish realistic goals around this group. Your primary focus with these individuals should be around “friendraising” and secondary focus on fundraising. While we may have a clear understanding of this within development, it should be properly communicated to the president, board of trustees, alumni board and other appropriate individuals. Cultivation is key and dollars must be set aside to keep your young alumni informed about your school and the importance of giving back. I would recommend for the first few years to make “the ask” a soft ask.
Below are some tactics you may want to undertake to help engage with these future donors to your institution.
- Automatically enrolled in the alumni association. Ensure they see the benefits of being a part of this elite group. If you currently charge to be a part of the alumni association then offer complimentary membership for their first five years. Document what being a member entitles them to so that when it comes time for them to pay that they see the benefit. Offer discounted rates for attending alumni events where they currently reside – you will have higher attendance!
- Alumni Board – ensure that a small group is being asked to join the board for their advice and perspective. Identifying these individuals is quite easy by documenting those who were student leaders and those who are children of parents who donated to the school. Come up with your own ways of identifying affinity based on your own institution.
- Engaging with alumni during their time at school is critical. Creating events around reunion where alumni and student interact in various scenarios is wonderful. Engaging your alums to come and do special classes for your students provides duo benefit by increasing the affinity of those alums. Provide special classes on preparing to work out in the world in their field of study are a definite plus.
- Identify those young grads who would be willing to speak to possible future students of your school. I am sure most schools engage students when prospective students come to campus to help ensure they attend your institution, but provide a list of those recently graduated is also essential. This provides the prospective students two views – one of those currently in school and those who graduated within recent years. Be sure to highlight those young grads in helping secure your future students!
Be creative when developing ways to engage with your young alumni. This will ensure they will be involved now and in the future!
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