5 Ideas For Keeping Alumni Engaged When In-Person Events Aren’t Possible
We’ve come to find ourselves living in very strange times. With restrictions being placed on movement until it’s once again safe to do so, keeping ourselves entertained and occupied will now become a very sought after activity.
Some of your alumni will live with partners, friends, or family. While others may be living on their own or self-isolating to protect society, or themselves, from becoming ill. However, regardless of their circumstances, your communities will find themselves searching for a distraction, a break, some small joys that can help them to maintain some sense of normality. Something that helps them to feel connected to the outside world.
As the sector’s experts in keeping your alumni communities connected, your teams will be busy planning the ways in which you can keep personal relationships strong. To assist with this, we’ve come up with a few ideas that can be easily implemented by any alumni engagement team - no matter where in the world you, or your members, might be.
Host a virtual quiz
Just because you can’t get to the pub doesn’t mean that the pub quiz can’t come to you. Through using tools such as Google Hangouts or Zoom, you can bring alumni (and maybe students too) together in the spirit of friendly competition.
Ask your academic community to help with sourcing questions
Ask student/alumni reps if they would like to host the virtual broadcast
Include prizes for the winners
Record the event so that even if alumni can’t make the live quiz they can still take part (minus prizes)
Make it a weekly event so that alumni have something to look forward to
Start a book club
Reading is a great way to occupy your time, as well as a great way to escape what may be happening in the outside world. Why not invite your community to take solace in the pages of a good book?
Ask English academics or student reps to select books, as well as asking other academics or students to lead the discussion
Put together a schedule for each week so that participants know how much they should read before the next session
Provide discussion points for each session so that participants can prepare ahead of time
After reading the first book, ask your alumni to recommend and vote on the next book
Post daily maths equations
Keeping our brains sharp through reading is one way to beat cabin fever, however, so too is working out the solution to a difficult maths equation. Activities like this are also excellent for getting alumni engaged in conversations via social media.
Ask academics or student reps to come up with daily problems (and their solutions!) from a variety of maths-related subject areas
Use channels such as Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram to post questions to, allowing alumni to answer using comments and to share the questions with friends and family
Start with questions that enable a large audience to participate, then occasionally throw in harder questions for participants to really stretch their brainpower
Encourage alumni to share their memories
Indulging in memories of simpler times may be a welcome distraction for your community - no matter how long ago they graduated. Sharing those memories with others who have had similar experiences can also be very comforting.
Use your archived memories and stories to get the conversation around sharing memories started
Ask alumni to share their own memories, as well as sharing photos and tagging friends so that they too can participate
Integrate tools such as Instagram and Facebook stories to ask alumni if they want to participate. When they say ‘yes’, follow up with a request via Facebook
Messenger or an Instagram direct message.
Create a collaborative music project
Many will have music-related societies or degree subjects that can be used to encourage alumni to use music as a way to keep entertained. You might even encourage someone to pick up a neglected instrument or to discover that music brings them joy.
Ask academics or students involved in music-related subjects to pick the pieces you’ll ask participants to contribute towards
Encourage participants to learn and record their parts, whether that be through playing an instrument or singing.
Once you have all the pieces, use music editing software to tie it all together (Garage Band for Apple users is free and easy to use)
Broadcast the collaboration on social media and encourage others to suggest the next song
******Additional Ideas Thought Of After Initial Posting******
Give them a call
This one doesn't require any fancy technology - just a telephone! Calling your alumni to have a quick chat about their time at your institution and what they've been up to since might just be the thing that brightens their day. And if those alumni are also donors, calling them up to say thank you is a great way to make sure that donors feel informed about their gift and how it's making an impact.
Finally, for those with older alumni, including those who are over the age of 70 could be a very welcome addition to their day. With many in this age group needing to self isolate they may relish reliving old memories of their time spent at your institution.
Here to help
We hope that in the weeks to come you continue to maintain the strong connections you have built with your alumni communities and that these ideas are useful. We’d love to hear other ideas from around the sector and are more than happy to help brainstorm ideas where helpful via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.