Customer Relationship Management

Fostering Alumni Connections With a Digistorm App

March 9, 2021

Key points:

  • Staying connected to students once they’ve completed school is difficult, however, your school should have an alumni engagement strategy in place.
  • Having an alumni module within your school app can really support your alumni relationship-building efforts.

Engaging alumni can be incredibly tricky. You’ve spent years building relationships with your students, but it can be easy to lose that connection once they’ve left your school and stepped out into the big, wide world.

Not only do alumni have the potential to be great representatives for your school, but they also go on to achieve amazing things — after all, they were educated by the best! In this post, we’ll dive into the reasons why keeping in touch with former students is so important, and how you can use a school communication app to do just that. 

 

Why do you need an alumni engagement strategy?

There are a number of reasons you’ll want to continue engaging alumni that go far beyond financial contributions. An important one is their network. Alumni can tap into potential markets you may not currently have access to, creating a new generation of prospects as they begin to associate with different circles within their community.

Not only that, but eventually many alumni will become parents themselves, making it even more important that you keep them connected with your school (and all of the great things you're doing!). This helps you create a foundation to nurture future enrolments. 

Other reasons you’ll want to keep in touch with alumni include:

  • Mentorship opportunities — alumni can offer career and life advice to current students
  • Volunteering — former students are often happy to act as volunteers for school activities
  • Event attendance — former students are often more than happy to attend school functions and even contribute financially.


Now that we’ve talked about why you need an alumni engagement strategy, let’s talk about how you can implement one using your school app.

 

1. Open the lines of communication

This is often the biggest challenge. Former students move away, change their contact details and slowly but surely lose contact with your school. Luckily, in the age of technology, your school has a number of tools at your disposal to reconnect. Two of the most common marketing mediums used by schools looking to engage alumni are social media (specifically Facebook and Instagram) and email. 

However, an even better way to connect alumni back into your school community is to create an Alumni module on a school app. In this module, you can post school updates, achievements from alumni students, and even upcoming events that may interest your past students. 

Apps are the perfect way to keep your school top of mind because you can nudge users to check the app by sending out notices or events through push notifications. Push notifications are short messages that pop up on phone home screens to deliver news and encourage users to open a particular app. This feature ensures that your alumni continue to return to your school app, again and again, to keep up with the latest school news.

 

2. Keep up with their achievements 

As we mentioned, your alumni are out there doing amazing things! Keeping track of and celebrating their achievements will help position your school as a destination for successful people, and will also give them a little exposure in return.

One way schools successfully do this is through ‘past student shout-outs’ that you can share directly on your app, email newsletter and across social media. Here's an example from Muskegon Community College, calling out the graphic design career achievements of an alumni student:

 

Screen Shot 2021-03-10 at 9.34.39 am

Source: Muskegon Community College Facebook page

 

Alumni shoutouts are a great way to encourage communication — after all, people love sharing their success! Be sure not to put limits on what kind of ‘success’ you accept, either. Showing a good balance of potential pathways demonstrates to current students that there’s a variety of routes that can be taken to achieve success.

 

3. Invite them to special events

Alumni may not be too inclined to turn up to school functions when invited, but special events? There’s your drawcard! Many alumni are drawn to attend sentimental functions such as milestone reunions, big sporting matches, musicals, anniversary celebrations and fundraisers. 

You can host all of the information about each event, including the date, time and venue within your school app. From there you can promote the event to alumni by sending out push notifications and garnering RSVPs or ticket sales.

 

4. Create the opportunity to give back 

Keeping up communication with your alumni will help them to feel like an important part of your school community, even years after they graduate. In certain cases, alumni may want to give back to your school in the form of gifts or donations. 

These donations could go towards updating school equipment, lowering school fees, or renovating school grounds, to continue to provide students with the best possible educational experience. If you nurture a relationship with your alumni there is a higher chance that your school will be top of mind for boost giving.

To make giving easy for your alumni, first consider moving your donation process online. To learn more about this, make sure you check out our post Powerful Ways to Encourage More Online Donations For Your School. Once you have an online donation portal set up, you can prompt alumni to visit it by writing personalised messages and pushing them out to alumni using your app. 

 

5. Connect them to their peers

The final way that an app can help your school build a relationship with former students is by connecting them with each other. After all, it’s only natural that they’ll want a place to chat with their former peers about the good old days! 

A common way of facilitating this is through an alumni portal. A portal can easily be implemented onto your school’s website and can be divided by year level, house, and more. This means that various groups have the opportunity to reconnect. You can then link out to the portal on your Digistorm school app so Alumni know where to find the portal link at any time.

 

Getting started 

School apps can be incredibly helpful when you’re looking to build relationships with former students. If you’d like to chat more about what an app can accomplish for your school, the friendly Digistorm team are more than happy to have a chat. You can easily book a demo to see the alumni module in action today! 

But that’s not all a school app can do for your school! To learn more, make sure you check out these Digistorm resources: