Enhancing Alumni Engagement

Strategies for Connecting with Recent Graduates

The value of creating strong connections between recent graduates and their alma mater is pivotal in maintaining lifelong connections with alumni. Through personalized outreach methods and highlighting the array of services available, institutions can effectively nurture alumni involvement. In this post, we will share both the strategies and supporting data that shows how effective they are at engaging graduating seniors and fostering a sense of belonging within the alumni community. 

Industry wide, strategies should be set in place to ensure the first communication with recent graduates is not a solicitation. Establishing rapport with recent graduates is extremely important for institutions seeking to cultivate a thriving alumni network. To develop a better relationship with your constituents and increase their lifetime engagement and value, your institution must get beyond the perception of being transactional—or only contacting constituents when you’re seeking a donation. One of the key ways to build that relationship is by sharing with graduating seniors about the opportunities for ongoing engagement with the Alumni Association. By leveraging targeted communication and comprehensive support through Engagement Center outreach, universities can facilitate a seamless transition from student to alumnus. 

Personalized Outreach

  • Utilizing the Engagement Center for 1:1 Outreach: Personalized congratulatory messages via phone calls, voicemails, and text messages enhance the likelihood of engaging graduating seniors. Leveraging multiple communication channels ensures broader outreach and fosters a sense of connection. At a Legends Philanthropy property, data reveals a significant response rate among graduating seniors, with a 16% pick-up rate for phone calls compared to 5% across all alumni populations, and a 14% pick-up rate for those who have graduated between 2020-present. 
  • Importance of Updating Demographic Information: Ensuring accurate demographic information is vital for effective outreach. Encouraging graduating seniors to update their contact details enables institutions to maintain communication and provide relevant updates post-graduation. By keeping demographic information current, institutions can tailor outreach efforts to individual preferences and enhance the overall alumni experience. 
  • Harnessing the Power of Phone Communication: Despite the prevalence of digital communication, phone calls remain a powerful tool for engaging younger audiences. Graduating seniors exhibit a higher response rate to phone outreach, making it an invaluable avenue for establishing meaningful connections. 
  • Strategic Voicemail Campaigns: Compelling voicemails encourage recent graduates to save the Alumni Association’s contact information and explore opportunities for engagement. Voicemail messages serve as an effective means of diversifying communication and expanding outreach beyond solicitation efforts. 
  • Introducing Text Messaging: Integrating text messaging into 1:1 outreach initiatives enables institutions to capitalize on a burgeoning communication channel. Educating graduating seniors about the Alumni Association’s initiatives via text messages enhances engagement and facilitates ongoing dialogue. 

Emphasizing Post-Graduation Engagement

  • Addressing Alumni Association Benefits: Many recent graduates express a desire to stay connected with their alma mater post-graduation, yet may be unaware of the available resources. Institutions should elucidate the myriad benefits of alumni engagement, including access to career services, alumni tours, regional alumni clubs, attending events, and other opportunities that will resonate with recent graduates.
  • Highlighting Career Services: Positioning career services as a central component of post-graduation engagement is a leading tactic to help keep graduating seniors engaged with their alma mater as they embark on their job search. Data suggests that 92% of graduating seniors express interest in engaging with the Alumni Association after graduation, compared to an engagement rate of 74% overall. 
  • Facilitating Alumni Tours: Organizing alumni tours offers recent graduates an opportunity to reconnect with their alma mater and forge lasting bonds with fellow alumni. These immersive experiences foster a sense of nostalgia and strengthen alumni ties to the institution. 
  • Cultivating Alumni Clubs: Establishing alumni clubs based on shared interests or geographical locations cultivates a sense of community among recent graduates. These clubs serve as hubs for networking, socializing, and professional development, enriching the alumni experience. 
  • Attending Events: Encouraging recent graduates to participate in events such as game watch parties or webinars fosters continued engagement with the university community. These gatherings provide opportunities for networking, skill-building, and camaraderie, reinforcing the bond between alumni and their alma mater. 

Engaging recent graduates is instrumental in sustaining a vibrant alumni community and fortifying the bond between alumni and their alma mater. By implementing targeted outreach strategies and highlighting the myriad benefits of alumni engagement, institutions can effectively nurture lasting connections with graduating seniors, which will increase overall engagement and lead to a higher likelihood of giving.

Through ongoing support and personalized communication, Legends has consistently helped our partners in higher ed cultivate a culture of lifelong affiliation, enriching the alumni experience for generations to come. Connect with us to learn innovative strategies and best practices that ensure every graduate becomes an active, contributing member of your alumni community.

Expanding Alumni Magazine Audiences

Enhance magazine readership with digital ads

Alumni magazines serve as a vital link between universities and their graduates, telling stories that foster pride, connection, and community. Yet, the evolving landscape of content consumption presents a challenge: ensuring these stories reach the eyes of the current readership and the broader alumni network. We explore one approach to expanding the audience for these cherished publications, turning pages into pixels and impressions into interactions.

Expanding Influence: Why Magazine Engagement Matters

Enhancing alumni magazine readership goes beyond mere numbers; it’s about deepening understanding of the institution’s mission and fostering a sense of community. Engaged readers become more aligned with university values and are more likely to contribute, both in terms of participation and philanthropy. Moreover, increased engagement opens doors to retargeting opportunities, allowing institutions to tailor further communications and invitations based on reader interests and behaviors. This strategic approach amplifies the reach of alumni stories and strengthens the alumni network, creating a more vibrant, interconnected community.

Precision-Targeted Digital Engagement

With paid media, alumni associations can bridge the gap between content and consumer. This approach isn’t just about casting a wider net; it’s about crafting a smarter one. By leveraging the detailed demographic data and online behaviors of alumni, universities can:

  • Spotlight special features and historical milestones, bringing significant events to the forefront of alumni consciousness.
  • Highlight niche areas and unique programs, illuminating the lesser-known corners of the institution that spark surprise and interest.
  • Enhance philanthropy education through immersive storytelling, illustrating the tangible impacts of alumni contributions.
  • Showcase alumni spotlights, leveraging the compelling narratives of distinguished graduates to deepen the sense of connection and pride.

Strategies to Elevate Magazine Readership Through Ads

  1. Data-Driven Targeting: Utilize alumni databases to create targeted ad campaigns on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google, reaching alumni with high precision based on their interests and online behaviors.
  2. Highlight Must-Read Content: Create ads that showcase intriguing articles, exclusive interviews, or compelling stories from the latest issue, sparking curiosity and encouraging clicks.
  3. Retargeting Campaigns: Implement retargeting strategies to re-engage visitors of the magazine’s online platform who didn’t subscribe or explore content during their first visit.
  4. Event and Milestone Promotions: Use digital ads to promote magazine content that highlights upcoming events, significant milestones, or achievements within the alumni community, creating a buzz and fostering a sense of pride and belonging.
  5. Engagement Tracking and Optimization: Monitor the performance of ad campaigns in real-time, allowing for quick adjustments to messaging, targeting, or creative elements to maximize engagement and readership.

A Case of Success: Transforming Impressions into Impact

The proof of this strategy’s effectiveness lies in a campaign that propelled one university’s digital magazine article to unprecedented visibility. By serving an additional 88,000 ad impressions, the campaign catalyzed around 11,000 new interactions—from article reads to video views—at a remarkably efficient cost of just $0.09 per interaction. This approach yielded 30% more pageviews than the magazine’s e-newsletter and attracted a significantly younger readership, expanding the magazine’s reach and relevance.

Discover how to harness the power of digital ads to magnify your magazine’s reach. Download our case study to learn how you can apply these strategies at your institution. Begin transforming your alumni magazine’s potential today and watch as the pages of your university’s story unfold in the hands of alumni across the globe.

Turning Absense into Attendance

Digital Strategies to Engage First-Time Event Alumni

Universities and alumni associations stand at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, constantly seeking ways to strengthen their bond with the alumni community. Amid this quest lies a group often overlooked: the unengaged alumni. These individuals, despite their lack of interaction, hold the potential to become active, contributing members of the alumni network. This narrative unveils a strategic approach to capture their attention and transform them into enthusiastic participants in the university’s vibrant life.

Boosting Alumni Event Attendance: A Strategy for Engagement

Events serve as the heartbeat of alumni relations, offering unforgettable experiences that resonate with attendees long after the curtains close. Yet, the challenge of drawing in those who have drifted away remains. How do you engage alumni who have never attended your events?

Boosting Event Attendance with Digital Ads

Traditional communication methods like email can’t always reach the alumni we most want to engage, leading universities to turn to more effective solutions. Digital ads offer a unique opportunity to connect with these alumni, presenting a chance to promote university events in a way that’s both eye-catching and targeted. These ads can reach alumni where they’re most active online, from social media to browsing their favorite websites, and offer customization options to ensure the right message gets to the right people. By leveraging the power of digital advertising, universities can increase awareness of their events and significantly boost attendance, re-engaging alumni in meaningful ways and fostering a stronger community connection.

Targeted Strategies to Reach Unengaged Alumni

To engage alumni who haven’t attended events, universities can dive deep into audience analysis, tapping their CRM to segment alumni based on their engagement levels. This data enables the creation of targeted ad strategies across display ads for visibility, social media for engagement, and search ads for direct interest capture. Tailoring messages specifically for this group ensures relevance and resonance. Additionally, deploying lookalike audiences on platforms like Facebook and Google Ads expands reach to similar profiles, potentially interested but previously unengaged individuals, significantly increasing the likelihood of event attendance and active participation.

The Proof is in the Participation: A Success Story Unfolds

The impact of this type of approach is both measurable and profound. At one partner institution, we launched a 12-week campaign that saw more than 429,000 impressions served, leading to 82 previously unengaged constituents stepping through the doors of an event. This remarkable achievement, attained at a cost of $52 per attendee, underscores the latent interest among alumni. They are not disinterested; they simply await the right invitation.

This strategy transcends mere attendance, laying the groundwork for deeper engagement. It’s about enriching the alumni tapestry with diverse threads, from those attending their first event to future advocates for the university. By extending the invitation far and wide, universities can transform the narrative of alumni relations, turning silent observers into active, passionate participants.

Build strategies to increase your engagement

Learn how targeted digital advertising can revitalize your alumni events and open doors to untapped potential. Dive into our case study and discover the keys to unlocking the hearts and minds of your unengaged alumni. Together, let’s create a future where every alumni feels connected, engaged, and inspired to participate in the life of their alma mater.

Revolutionizing the Student Experience in Engagement Centers

An Innovative Model for Recruitment, Retention, and Student Development  

In the dynamic landscape of higher education, the challenges of hiring and retaining talent are ever-present. Legends, however, has seen success in attracting, retaining, and developing student talent unlike anyone else in the space because our approach not only addresses retention rates and the time-consuming hiring process but also places a profound emphasis on the holistic development of students involved in Engagement Centers.  

How to build thriving student engagement teams

1. Streamlining Time to Hire

We recognize the urgency in building effective teams for student engagement centers. To combat the time constraints of traditional hiring processes, we approach it as follows: 

  • Efficient recruitment pipelines: Develop streamlined recruitment pipelines that leverage technology and timing to identify and attract suitable candidates swiftly. 
  • Targeted outreach: Proactively engage with potential candidates through targeted outreach programs, creating a talent pool ready for quick deployment. 
  • Turnkey onboarding: Implement flexible onboarding processes that prioritize the most essential training, allowing new team members to contribute meaningfully from day one.  

Employee referrals have proven to be a top 3 recruitment method for identifying talented candidates at Legends. We continue to prioritize our employee referral program due to its efficacy.

2. Increasing Retention Rates

Retaining talent in student engagement centers is a persistent challenge. We have worked to create an environment that fosters commitment and longevity through: 

  • Comprehensive training programs: Provide ongoing, comprehensive training that not only enhances job-related skills but also instills a sense of purpose and passion for the mission. 
  • Recognition and rewards: Implement a robust recognition and rewards system that acknowledges individual contributions, fostering a positive and motivating work culture.  

Small, goal-oriented incentives such as opportunities to win gift cards and bonuses for performance in areas such as volume of attempts or free meals for picking up additional hours are a simple way to align students with the mission while keeping them motivated and striving for better results by attaching incentives to things such as performance, showcasing leadership, white-glove treatment to constituents, etc. 

3. Emphasis on Student Development

Recognizing that students are not just employees but young professionals who are looking to develop themselves and their careers, Legends’ model places a strong emphasis on their holistic development: 

  • Skill enhancement opportunities: Offer opportunities for skill development beyond the scope of their current roles, encouraging a culture of continuous learning.  
  • Networking and exposure: Facilitate networking opportunities and exposure to various industries, careers, and opportunities. Showcasing the engagement center as not just a job, but a career beginning. 

Hosting a résumé-building and mock job interview workshop, opportunities to shadow other positions, or networking events with professionals across a variety of industries.

4. Embracing a Student-Driven Culture

Acknowledging the complexities of student life, including managing rigorous schedules and diverse priorities, as well as recognizing their unique workplace needs compared to traditional staff, Legends champions a culture led by students via: 

  • Empowerment and feedback loops: Encourage students to take ownership of their work and establish mechanisms for soliciting and acting upon student feedback. 
  • Flexibility and adaptability: Provide flexible work arrangements and schedules and be willing to adapt policies and preferences to better meet the evolving needs of student workers. 

Sending out engagement surveys each semester to gather direct feedback and establishing action plans based on the results or offering a wide range of scheduling possibilities including afternoon, evening, and weekend shifts, daily operations, and policy adaptations that fit student lifestyle (e.g., a casual dress code or flexible attendance policy). 

Legends’ commitment to a positive and innovative student experience within the engagement center represents a paradigm shift in how we and our partner universities approach recruitment, retention, and student development. By prioritizing efficiency, fostering a supportive culture, and recognizing the unique needs of student team members, the Legends’ model not only meets the challenges of the present but lays the groundwork for an impactful future. As universities navigate the complexities of engagement centers, alumni connectivity, and student employment, Legends welcomes the opportunity to partner and support student-led efforts in engagement strategies. 

Ready to build a dynamic & results-driven student team? Download our guide and discover how an engagement center can boost your institution’s outreach and relationship-building efforts. 

The evolution of outreach: How engagement centers are redefining alumni engagement 

Engagement centers fill the gaps left by traditional call centers and transform your alumni engagement strategy. 

Evolution of Outreach: Engagement Centers - Alumni Engagement

As the demands of higher education advancement centers evolve and change, leaders are facing an important decision: to continue investing in traditional call centers or to explore new strategies for alumni and donor engagement. Many are facing pressure to produce immediate ROI, and many universities are moving away from alumni participation rate as a measure within the university ranking system. As a result, it’s time to rethink the call center—not as a relic of the past—but as a springboard into a future of more dynamic, effective engagement and fundraising operation. 

Understanding the challenges of traditional call centers: 

  1. Student recruitment and staffing struggles: Traditional call centers often grapple with high turnover and continual training demands. This labor-intensive model struggles to retain full-time and student staff, leading to inconsistent outreach efforts.    
  1. The decline in engagement rates: University leaders have observed a worrying trend: decreasing engagement rates from alumni and donors, questioning the call center’s value in today’s digital world. 
  1. Perception of a negative ROI: With substantial operational costs and dwindling engagement, traditional call centers are increasingly perceived as generating a negative ROI, leaving many leaders puzzled about how to stimulate engagement and giving.  
  1. Stagnation and lack of innovation: On re-evaluating strategies and priorities, leadership often finds themselves facing a stark lack of innovation within this area of engagement and advancement. The same traditional approaches, without any significant evolution, leave them questioning the future viability of call centers. 
  1. Shifting priorities in US News & World Report rankings: US News & World Report recently eliminated alumni participation rate as a means to rank universities. As a result, many in university leadership are taking a more critical look at the value of these student-led operations and considering where to invest resources. 

Introducing the Strategic Opportunities of Engagement Centers: 

Enhancing ROI with data-driven outreach: 

With so many distractions competing for their attention, it is crucial to understand what information will resonate with your constituents, and how/where to share it so that they’ll engage with it. The call center model simply cannot compete with the strategic use of data analytics that we use in engagement centers, to help us send targeted and efficient outreach. Using technology to help us monitor interests and interactions, engagement centers are able to create a curated 1:1 connection for each constituent and deepen a constituent’s passion for the university by focusing on what they already care about.  

These data points also allow the engagement center to pinpoint the optimal timing and methods for connecting with alumni, resulting in improved participation and engagement rates.  Engagement rates go beyond traditional ROI, evaluating how effectively alumni and donor interactions translate into lasting relationships and advocacy. It’s a crucial indicator of the long-term impact and sustainability of alumni relations, which yields an increase in the number and size of major gifts, increasing the long-term ROI. 

Using a data-driven engagement approach, Legends recently implemented a campaign targeting young alumni and saw a 90% engagement rate. 

Revitalizing the work environment: 

Engagement Centers revolutionize the traditional call center workspace by introducing a 1:1 outreach strategy and using multiple channels to amplify the traditional phone model, including email, video content, social media, and more. By leveraging multiple means of outreach, students are connecting with constituents in a manner that meets the constituents where they are, leading to increased positive interactions.  

Further, the variety of channels allows for increased job variability and lowers burnout among our staff. Student staff, whom are an extension of the full-time advancement professionals, must have the resources and content to establish meaningful connections with the constituent base. This not only provides them with better work experience but also increases their efficacy in driving engagement and donations.  

Providing top-tier professional development opportunities to allow team members to develop verbal and written skills is key to their success, and in turn, the success of the engagement center.  

Across Legends partnerships, we are seeing an average retention rate of 81%.  

“Our student-focused approach has significantly altered the landscape of the engagement center, creating an environment that fosters development and a positive culture.” 

Riley Fenter, Student Staffing Associate

Redefining alumni interactions: 

For years, the approach to call centers was transactional and strictly solicitation-focused. Shifting the focus from a solicitation-only approach to an engagement focus leads to a far more positive constituent experience while resulting in strong alumni interactions and overall giving participation rate. Institutions adopting engagement centers have seen up to a 30% increase in positive alumni interactions. 

Breathing innovation into alumni engagement: 

Leveraging our background and success in premium curated experiences, amplifying the customer experience, and maximizing revenue, Legends’ engagement centers are redefining the industry and setting a new standard.  

Legends has brought cross-industry best practices, seeing a rise in engagement levels by implementing cutting-edge techniques that utilize data and analytics, new media, and a multichannel approach. At a time when many schools are seeing a decline in donors and dollars, engagement centers that have implemented Legends’ constituent-first process are seeing an increase in both dollars and donors while focusing on the overall constituent experience. 

“The engagement center gives us the ability to personalize messaging across our entire donor base, quickly and seamlessly adjust our approach based on events, priorities, and opportunities, and build preferred, trusted points of contact for thousands of our constituents.’

Thomas Lenneberg, Executive Director of Development, Air Force Academy Foundation

Leveraging advanced technology for custom solutions: 

Legends pairs its innovative approach to fundraising with industry-leading technology. Legends believes in finding the right solution and approach to each partnership. Whether the partner has 10,000 records or 10,000,000 records, Legends works to bring a custom solution to life that allows the Engagement Center to work efficiently while augmenting and enhancing the existing tech stack with the partner. 

  • Legends introduced top tech platforms at a Northeast university and realized 75% growth in new/long-lapsed donors and 13% growth in donor retention.
  • A Midwest university has realized 155% growth in engagement center participation since incorporating Legends and industry-leading technology. 

Fostering lifelong community and support: 

Despite shifts in collegiate ranking criteria, engagement centers underscore the timeless value of building a robust alumni community. By facilitating genuine personal connections, they help sustain and enhance the vital support network that underpins every successful institution. Further, with the ability to be constituent-focused, institutions employing Legends’ engagement center model are realizing a whole new pool of major gift donors that are ready to engage and make transformative gifts now. 

The solution isn’t to abandon the call center; it’s to reimagine it as a vibrant, multi-faceted engagement center. By addressing the inherent challenges of traditional models and embracing the opportunities presented by engagement centers, universities can enhance their student experience and significantly enhance their connection with alumni and donors. The future of engagement and advancement is here, and it’s time to be part of this transformative journey. 

Ready to revolutionize your alumni and donor engagement? Download our guide and discover how an engagement center can boost your institution’s outreach and relationship-building efforts.