Fond memories, warm and fuzzy feeling, deep love and connection, keeping that magical feeling alive throughout your life – These are all things we would like our donors to have because even if they have two of these then you have a donor for life. The easiest way to have this happen is to start engaging your young alums. When you first leave school it is a whirlwind of activity of moving, getting a job and established in the community so why not begin the initial process of engaging your young alums while they are still in school. There are multiple ways to start this process. At graduation day who knows who the next CEO, television personality or entrepreneur will be so why not establish/maintain that strong bond before this takes place.
1. The development department could hold seminars for the seniors throughout their last year. Provide them with details and costs so they have a clear understanding of why without their support that the incredible education and personal experience will be lost on future young men and women.
2. If not already established create a Young Alum Association and depending on your school you can make it a paid membership at a very nominal cost or just automatic free membership for the first eight – ten years after graduation. Ensure the perks are attractive and properly engage these young alums. Greatly reduced costs on attending reunion would be a great choice. It keeps your alum coming back and they feel supported. As this develops be sure there are activities that may be specifically designed for them. An electronic newsletter that is all about them is another great perk that keeps them engaged and allows you to have their most recent email address. Providing a perk that may be associated with major donors or your VIP alums with the understanding that it will only be provided while they are a part of the Young Alum Association could be another feature. If it is a perk that really means something to me then maybe I will contribute at a higher level to ensure it continues.
3. The development department should be attending all extra curricular activities on campus. It can be quite clear who is really engaged in the school and create an attribute around that for your CRM. This will ensure that your communications can be specific with a certain group of alums. One key attribute that should be documented is what dorm they lived in while at school. We all know that at one point or another a dorm needs a facelift and why not specifically design a mailing around that. Develop a dorm column in your newsletter that keeps them apprised of anything going on whether it is social, enhancements, repairs, plans for the future, etc… Get their approval while they are in school of gathering this attribute so this and others can be documented in your CRM.