Sorority & Fraternity Alumni Event Tips to Boost Engagement

Ira Horowitz
Founder, Cornershop Creative

When you join a sorority or fraternity, you join a community built on the bonds of a family. However, when your members graduate and move off campus to pursue their academic or career goals, they’ll have fewer opportunities to engage themselves in your chapter’s activities.

That means it’s up to your leadership team to keep your familial connection strong even after your members become alumni and build their lives outside of your chapter. 

One of the best ways to reignite your alumni members’ passion for your chapter is by gathering them for events. Not only will they have fun connecting with their classmates from college, but they’ll also get to meet and forge bonds with your chapter’s current members and leadership team. 

Running an alumni event, while exciting, can be daunting for even the most seasoned fraternity and sorority leaders. Let’s explore how you can simplify the event planning, execution, and follow-up stages to engage your alumni members better than ever before.

Why is alumni engagement so important?

Before we dive into our tips, it’s important to understand why connecting with alumni should always be a priority. Alumni engagement can improve:

  • Fundraising outcomes. According to Pennington, studies have shown that donations to higher education institutions are rising, and much of this revenue comes from fraternity and sorority alumni. Keep them involved in your chapter’s philanthropy efforts so they’ll be inspired to donate and spread the word about your campaign to their own networks.
  • Networking opportunities. One of the biggest benefits of chapter membership is the networking opportunities. Alumni are more established in the professional world and can make valuable connections when engaged with your chapter. 
  • Chapter legacy. Your chapter is built on a legacy of excellence and can only be cemented if as many alumni as possible uphold your values. Engaged alumni are more likely to be invested in contributing to your chapter’s legacy.
  • Member support. From acting as career mentors for current members to advising chapter managers about leadership, alumni can provide crucial support to your chapter.

Now that you know the potential benefits of alumni engagement, let’s review the top strategies to invigorate your events. 

1. Use unique marketing and outreach media. 

While sending a simple event email to your alumni is a standard event outreach strategy, it’s more likely to get lost in their inboxes. However, using these unique outreach media, you can add some pizzazz and visibility to your messages:

  • Video. There’s nothing quite as dynamic and attention-grabbing as a compelling video promoting your event. You could include clips of previous gatherings, testimonies from other alumni, and moving calls to action that motivate alumni to RSVP. Consider embedding a video within a marketing email or on a social media post to maximize visibility.
  • eCards. eCards combine the character of a stylized direct-mail event invitation and the convenience of email invitations. You can easily personalize and custom-brand eCards to make them visually appealing, but that’s not all. The right online invitation software will also track open rates and instantly gather RSVPs so you know which alumni are attending and how to optimize future messages for engagement.

While these two ideas are a great place to start, you should try unique outreach strategies that align with your alumni community’s communication preferences. For instance, if you have a significant senior alumni population, you might adapt these digital materials to be accessible via direct mail so you can meet them where they are.

2. Host the events your alumni want to attend.

It goes without saying that your alumni are more likely to attend events that intrigue them or offer them value. Rather than playing a guessing game with your alumni, just ask them directly which types of events they’d like to attend via surveys or other feedback mechanisms. Some popular options include:

  • Networking events
  • Alma mater-related events, such as a reunion or sports tailgate
  • Banquets or galas
  • Educational webinars or panels with guest speakers
  • Volunteer outings
  • Meet-and-greet with current members

Ensure you store responses in the appropriate solution, such as chapter management software or volunteer management software, so you can easily plan the event when it comes time.

3. Enhance the event experience.

Once you know which events your alumni want to attend, aim to surpass their expectations with a truly unforgettable event experience. Consider leveling up your event by incorporating:

  • Hybrid elements. Adding virtual elements to your in-person event increases your potential attendee pool and makes it more convenient for everyone. For example, you could livestream a panel discussion so alumni can join from home and ask questions via the chat.
  • Offer exclusive benefits. Who doesn’t love an event with guest perks included? You could offer anything from branded chapter merchandise to VIP seating to small goodie bags to your alumni to encourage attendance.
  • Encourage alumni to bring guests. Meeting new brothers or sisters can sometimes feel daunting. Inviting plus-ones helps your alumni feel comfortable at the event. Plus, if it’s a fundraising event for your chapter, more attendees can mean more revenue.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when brainstorming ideas. As long as they’re within your budget and align with the event’s theme, try it out and see what your alumni think!

Next Steps

Even after the event ends, you still have work to do! Send feedback surveys to your attendees to gauge what could be improved and kept for future gatherings and (if applicable) thank donors or volunteers. Double the Donation recommends sending multiple messages to maximize authenticity and retention; first, send an automatic thank-you receipt, followed by a personalized thank-you card.

Also, track attendance data for each attendee and monitor how their engagement changes over time. If a significant amount of attendees engage more with your chapter after the event, plan more iterations of the idea. That said, as long as you plan with your alumni in mind, you can connect with brothers or sisters throughout the generations!

Ira Horowitz
Founder, Cornershop Creative

With 15 years’ experience, Ira is an expert in nonprofit online communications and online fundraising. His work has resulted in increased funds and resounding supporter engagement for hundreds of organizations.

Ira oversees our project management team and works with clients to provide our clients with the best possible final product. He also manages all of our strategic engagements and helps guide nonprofits to determine their long-term strategy goals for online communications.

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