Do not discount the value of the most traditional form of alumni programming: social events. Your alumni strategy should revolve around fostering a strong and vibrant community that reflects your values, and individuals will want to belong if they view it as a fun way to engage in social activities with old friends, meet other like-minded peers and provide opportunities that reflect their interests.
- Know your audience. To ensure that your social events are successful, you need to know your audience. Communicate with your alumni, learn their likes and dislikes and identify individuals who are willing to volunteer to help spearhead social initiatives.
- Divide and conquer. The interests of your alumni will likely vary across geographic region and age group. By creating social activities that are specialized to these demographics, you will have the flexibility to tailor programming to the interests of different groups. Offering regional alumni events can be a great way to bring together intimate communities in different geographic areas and will also reduce costs by eliminating expenses for travel and accommodations.
- Plan strategically. Develop programming that will minimize costs and maximize impact. Take into account the budget and time needed to plan your events and develop your programming accordingly. Given the effort and resources that event planning requires, it is helpful to create events that can be easily replicated in the future. Encouraging alumni to help with the planning, promotion and execution of an event can reduce your workload and ensure its success. Possible alumni social events include Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations, service activities, in-person lectures and online learning opportunities (such as webinars or informal virtual chats).