Graduating from university is a momentous step for many students, and that’s where an alumni association comes in.
Once students graduate and leave university, it’s easy for them to become disconnected from the institution while they focus on their career.
Fortunately, alumni associations and their dedicated alumni relations departments can help these individuals to remain a part of their university’s community long after leaving!
Post-graduation, alumni associations aim to strengthen the relationship between students and their educational institutions. They can open doors for alumni by helping them to expand their professional network, and even provide them with access to fantastic discounts and tailored career support.
Here at Aluminati, we recognise the importance of these supportive and mutually beneficial relationships. This is why we developed the world’s most customisable alumni, student, and staff engagement platform.
Thanks to our invaluable experience working with educational institutions to create this platform, we’ve seen first-hand the many benefits of forming an alumni association.
What is an alumni association?
An alumni association is composed of former students or graduates of an institution.
In the UK, they are commonly linked with business schools, universities and colleges.
To be considered an ‘alum’, you’ll be a graduate of one of these and automatically become part of the institution’s student alumni association.
What is the purpose of an alumni association?
The aim of an alumni association is to promote the welfare of the organisation by fostering an atmosphere of loyalty and connecting former students with other graduates, current students at the university, and the institution itself.
By providing and creating a community platform for this network of individuals with a shared educational institution to connect, an alumni association presents many opportunities for current and former students.
Why is it important to form an alumni association?
As an educational institution’s most loyal supporter, an alumni association plays an important role in keeping a university operating smoothly.
For example, an effective alumni association can help generate donations that fund a university’s development. It can also act as a marketing tool, and even boost employment rates among your latest graduates.
Below, we explore just some of the reasons that make forming an alumni association essential for educational institutions.
To help your university flourish with new equipment, trips, and facilities, having access to funds is crucial.
With a helping hand from an alumni association, you can keep alumni updated about anything the university might need or upcoming fundraising events.
Many alumni are grateful for the services and qualifications that their university provided them with and are eager to get involved and donate money to further the development of the institution.
By staying in contact with your alumni, you can reap the rewards of their social and professional network connections in the form of free marketing.
Alumni can act as ambassadors by generating valuable word-of-mouth marketing and even shouting about your university’s successes online via social media, such as LinkedIn.
These actions can help your university and its efforts to gain more awareness in the professional world and build a more prominent, positive reputation.
Forming an alumni association can also support universities that want to recruit new students. While alumni can open doors into the professional world for universities, they can also connect them with prospective university students, too.
By obtaining positions of influence through their career and highlighting themselves as ambassadors for your educational institution, they encourage college students to consider which universities they want to attend.
The more notable alumni you can associate with your university, the more positive your reputation is likely to be among prospective students.
If you want to increase the number of students graduating with a job already lined up, it’s time to ramp up your alumni association efforts!
These alumni relations can be utilised to connect current students about to graduate with alumni that can introduce them to their professional contacts and help them to receive work experience, a training position, or even a full-time offer of employment.
These elevated levels of post-graduation employment can then be used as marketing statistics to promote the university and its courses, subsequently encouraging more students to apply to the university.
What activities does an alumni association organise?
An alumni association is often a hive of activity!
While the exact operation of an alumni association will naturally vary according to the size and interests of the organisation as well as the availability of funds, they are typically known for organising social events (such as alumni talks and charity events), fundraising, publishing and issuing alumni newsletters or magazines, and maintaining and updating their alumni database.
While some alumni association activities like maintaining and updating the alumni database are essential to all functioning associations, the type and frequency of other optional activities can determine how successful the alumni association will be with current and former students.
If you would like to find out more about forming a successful alumni association, contact us or take a look below!
What makes an alumni association successful?
Creating an alumni association in itself isn’t difficult but with a little time, effort and funding, it can be a massive success! Often, the top educational institutions have more impressive and well-connected alumni networks.
However, there are five prerequisites for successful alumni engagement that all universities and their associations should consider trying to adhere to.
Ensure alumni feel like insiders
One way to encourage your alumni association to be successful is to serve the interests of the alumni.
Universities should therefore strive to offer exclusive deals, discounts, and opportunities to their alumni in order to make them feel like insiders and to encourage them to get involved with the association.
By organising a variety of social networking events and creating a constant stream of alumni communication, universities can ensure former students stay connected to the university and invested in their endeavours.
Collect and measure feedback
To determine how effective an alumni programme has been, it’s important that regular surveys are conducted, and crucial feedback is gathered directly from alumni using focus groups, questionnaires and other means. These efforts to invest more time, effort and money into feedback research can help to shape future programmes and increase their efficacy.
Take a sustained and focused approach
Due to the wide range of activities and initiatives that alumni associations can host and take part in, adopting a strong and focused approach is essential. In the midst of new and exciting ideas or difficult economic periods, the programs with the greatest potential impact can be used only briefly and quickly disregarded. It’s therefore important to opt for an approach that can not only be sustained through tough times but is focused on certain key initiatives for a set duration.
Act with candour
Alumni associations will always want to publish positive contributions about the university and its organisation. However, in order to build an atmosphere of trust and loyalty, you’ll need to act with a degree of candour. This means being honest about potentially negative alumni and university stories, too.
By way of illustration, this might include any accusations of university discrimination.
This creates an opportunity for alumni associations to issue apologies, reflect, and offer support to current students and alumni. Controlling and limiting the information that gets through will only damage the association’s reputation and create distrust between alumni and the institution.
Open communication channels
While receiving feedback is important, many alumni associations tend only to be open to receiving this feedback when it benefits them. To avoid former students feeling as though their thoughts and opinions only matter when the university wants to hear from them, creating various two-way communication channels is crucial.
Alumni associations should therefore provide email addresses, social media contacts, and contact forms that allow for easy and straightforward communication between parties.
Quick and professional responses to any enquiries will also help to build a better alumni relationship.
How to create an alumni association
If the wide and varied range of benefits have you convinced that building an alumni association is the best route for your educational organisation, then you’ve come to the right place.
Below, we’ve outlined the most important building blocks that you can use to create a successful alumni association.
Before you can create an alumni association, you’ll need to ensure there’s enough interest in joining.
Regardless of whether you opt for an informal or formal meeting with individuals that show potential interest in joining, you’ll need to accumulate a list of interested persons that can provide guidance, opinions, and support.
Once you’ve determined that there’s enough interest in your alumni association, you can begin to assign key staff with initial roles and responsibilities. This includes creating a senior leadership team that can delegate tasks and deliver strategic plans. Schedule regular meetings to ensure every member of the team is aligned with your overall goal and understands the day-to-day duties that will help you to achieve this goal.
As any organisation knows (regardless of its size), extensive planning and preparation are vital to succeeding. When organising your alumni association, we suggest analysing your university or college’s calendar and highlighting key dates for events. From here, you can fill out the year with a range of attractive activities to boost alumni engagement and interaction.
Invest in infrastructure
While great activities certainly play a part in encouraging alumni involvement, they’re of no use if you have no means of contacting and communicating with your alumni audience. This is why we recommend investing in the right infrastructure that can support effortless communication. This includes essential tools like an alumni database, an emailing platform, social media pages, and even customisable engagement platforms – just like the solution we offer at Aluminati.
Contact Aluminati today!
Here at Aluminati, we aim to encourage and strengthen new meaningful relationships between alumni, students and organisation staff using our dynamic alumni engagement software for the education sector.
Designed to meet a wide range of engagement requirements across your institution, this platform combines interaction modules, content tools, and administrative functions.
Featuring everything from fluid and intuitive interactive chat messaging to an impressive online library of protected digital resources and a selection of management tools that can only be accessed by authorised staff, we keep your alumni association connected. So, why not contact us today to book an online demo?
Sit back and relax from the comfort of your own desk as our expert advisors guide you through the platform’s various tools and show you how to customise the platform to suit your specific requirements.
Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form to arrange a suitable time and date for your bespoke online demonstration.
Eager to find out more about the world’s most customisable alumni, student, and staff engagement platform?
Luckily, we’ve made it easy to get in touch with our team! You can either speak directly to a member of our team by calling us on 01638 676 232, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hopping onto social media – you can find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.