How to foster an alumni community that starts – and stays – engaged

  • Posted on August 24, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
How To Foster An Alumni Community

Every university wants to stay in touch with its former students. If you went to university, it’s likely you still get the occasional email or attend some alumni events – after all, it feels good to stay in touch with your alma mater. A healthy alumni programme benefits students, but it also benefits the university, leading to more funding and influence.

But with over 2.5 million students in Higher Education in the UK, it’s important that barriers presented by the pandemic don’t prevent universities from connecting with graduates and growing their alumni. You need to be proactive in building and maintaining meaningful relationships with your alumni, and technology can help.

Here’s our three-step guide to get you started.

Tip 1: Use Microsoft Teams to deliver a graduation ceremony that is flexible, inclusive and safe
Arguably the most memorable moment of any student’s academic career is the graduation ceremony. We all love to see the mortarboards flying into the air. It’s also a vital step towards developing a thriving alumni community. Covid restrictions, along with the large numbers of graduates present a unique challenge; it’s important that universities can put on a graduation event in ways that are both inclusive and safe. More than ever, technology is helping universities host graduation ceremonies. But before you dive in, you need to ask yourself some important questions:

  • Is our graduation ceremony inclusive for distance learners and those that can’t attend in person?
  • Will our events be set up so that social distancing and track-and-trace can be implemented effectively?

Over 230,000 educational institutions use Microsoft Teams to make video calls and online meetings. As well as an array of remote learning functions, Teams allows students to fully participate in graduation, even if they’re attending remotely.

There is also a recording feature and a chat function. Remote attendees can chat – boosting a sense of community and inclusion, whilst those that can’t attend on the day (either digitally or in-person) can watch it later on-demand.

Teams enables you to connect with students in advance and on the day, whether they attend in person or online, giving a fantastic opportunity to spread awareness of alumni programmes.

Tip 2: Manage every step of your event with Microsoft Dynamics 365
With Dynamics 365 Marketing, you can handle all aspects of the event lifecycle from booking, registration, passes, attendance and post-event feedback. What’s more, all your data will be in one place with easy access to tools that give you the insight you need.

You can factor in safety measures such as social distancing and attendee numbers, and have everything you need for track and trace, giving students the confidence that they’ll get the best possible experience in the safest possible environment.

A safe, engaging event that makes the attendee proud to be part of the University’s family will provide a springboard to future participation and funding.

Tip 3: Strengthen your alumni with the best possible data and employee experiences
As well as providing funding, former students can be valuable marketing assets, and can also be involved in mentoring and running masterclasses for current students.

The graduation is just the start of your relationship with former students. Maintaining your network is every bit as important. With Dynamics 365, you can retain key data, such as contact details, career paths and interests. You can also plan the right time to run outreach campaigns targeting donations.

What’s more, the same software that supports brilliant graduations can be used just as effectively in running innovative alumni events. Using Customer Insights functionality, you can target those most likely to be interested in an event.

With job tenure reducing, it is harder to keep track. Our Power App Portal gives easy self-service to your members so they can keep information up to date.

With the rich data that you collect, Power BI software will deliver data visualisations to help plan future engagements, all supported by our effective multi-channel marketing software, like Adobe Marketing Cloud and Marketo.

Deliver more value
Of course, to maintain relationships, an institution needs to offer incentives. A recent US survey found that 47% of universities invest nothing in offering benefits to their alumni.

Find out what your alumni want. Building on the data you hold by using tools to communicate with former students is the best way to develop a programme that participants will value. Using data analytics, you can stand out from the crowd by offering programmes that are relevant to the needs of your graduates, helping them to develop areas of expertise, grow networks and boost their careers.

How we can help
Having the software is only the first step. The challenge is using it to its full potential. That’s where we come in. With our extensive record of business improvement, alongside the power of our software, we will enable you to deliver world class engagement and events, whilst building a long-lasting alumni network.

Avanade is a joint venture between two globally respected organisations, Accenture and Microsoft. We bring together world class business expertise and an unrivalled suite of leading software tools. Avanade has become the leader in the Microsoft services marketplace and has been named Global Alliance Service Integrator of the year for 2020. We work with educational institutions such as University of Manchester and Open Universities Australia.

Take your alumni programme to the next level
Contact us now and take your alumni programme to whole new heights of success, building an engaged, widespread alumni contact base for decades to come.

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