Two dominant themes of successful alumni programming that we have identified are: 1) Creating programming that is customized to resonate with your alumni; and 2) Empowering your alumni to be leaders in your community. With these concepts in mind, consider establishing a framework that your alumni can use to design their own vision-aligned programming.
- Establish a Do-It-Yourself framework. As your organization grows and matures, the composition of your alumni community will become increasingly diverse. Alumni at different stages of life and levels of desired time commitment will show interest in different types of opportunities. By empowering them to create and engage in specific, “Do-It-Yourself” (D-I-Y) programming, you can meet the wide-ranging needs of your alumni community.
- Empower niche interest groups and geographic cohorts. A Do-It-Yourself approach offers creative ways to meet the demand for specialized alumni programming that you may not otherwise have the capacity to offer. Programs that are created and organized by alumni themselves present compelling options for niche interest groups or individuals in cities with smaller alumni presences. For example, providing alumni with the resources to form their own gatherings, giving circles or discussion groups can be an effective way to forge connections in your community and ensure that your message is consistently deployed. You may not have the capacity to focus on these groups, but an effective D-I-Y framework allows you to significantly expand your reach at a low cost.
- Publicize eligibility criteria. To effectively drive this model, establish criteria for the types of opportunities you are interested in supporting, the resources you want to provide and the qualifications your alumni must meet to receive these resources.