Engagement leads to giving, and one of the best ways to engage alumni is through in-person events. Whether your school’s events are large or small, frequent or rare, there are some great ways to ensure that you are engaging your alumni base. Here are 5 ways to improve alumni engagement with events:
1. Go Digital With Invites, Promotion, and Registration
It’s likely that you are already sending out email invitations, but you may not be making the most of them. Look into tools that can automate the processes of sending out initial invites, re-sending invites to those who haven’t responded and sending reminders to those who have registered to increase responses. Beyond the invitations, make sure your online registration process is quick and easy. Your registration form should also be viewable on mobile devices, allowing alumni to register from anywhere. If attendees need to purchase tickets to your event, or if you are asking for donations with registration, allow registrants to pay or donate right on the form.
You will also want to promote your event across multiple social media channels. There was a time when social media outreach was only considered as a way to engage young alumni, but a recent study by Pew Research Center shows that 71% of adult internet users are now on Facebook. Social media is now a viable strategy to reach a broad range of alumni. Pick an event hashtag for Twitter to allow alumni to tag their tweets and easily find all event-related tweets in one place. This will help you promote your event and engage attendees before, during, and after the event.
2. Find The Perfect Venue
We have all attended events in boring locations. A stuffy conference room is not the best place to engage with your alumni and inspire them to give. If your event is local to your campus, using an on-campus venue is a great way to save on costs while emotionally engaging with alumni through your campus. When on-campus isn’t an option due to the size or location of your event, think outside the box for booking a venue. Consider interesting locations like museums, stadiums, roof decks, parks, or boats that will be fun and memorable for your attendees. With outdoor locations, remember that weather can be unpredictable and always have a backup plan. Using tents will allow attendees to enjoy your outdoor location even if it rains.
3. Hire The Right Speaker
Having an engaging speaker at your event is great way to motivate and inspire an audience of any size. How do you choose a speaker that will resonate with your audience? First, think about the main goal of your event. If you are hosting a fundraiser, you may want your audience to be inspired to give by a powerful keynote. If you are running a seminar or workshop, you will want your audience to interact with an expert (or experts) in a particular subject area. Whether you want to entertain, educate or motivate, make sure that your speaker and their topic or presentation corresponds with your main event goals. Don’t assume your speaker knows your event objectives.
You should determine your event speaker as soon as you begin the planning process. A good time frame for securing a speaker is about six months in advance. Certain types of speakers like successful executives or authors may require as much as 9 to 12 months’ notice. Have a few possible dates for your event to suggest for your speaker to increase your chances of booking. Be sure to have a backup option for a speaker in case you are unable to secure your top choice.
4. Survey Your Attendees
Asking for direct feedback from alumni, both before and after your events, is a great way to make sure that your events are hitting the mark. Pre-event surveys can help you fine-tune details for upcoming events such as speaker topics, venue or food and beverage options. Post-event surveys help determine the success of your event and show you what can be improved for next time. To cut down on the manual effort involved, look into event management solutions that will allow you to automatically email a post-event survey to all attendees. Surveys are also a great opportunity to update any demographic data from your alumni and help keep your database accurate. A good practice is to ask for demographic and contact information at the end of your survey since your participants are more inclined to answer such questions after they have already invested time in filling out your survey.
5. Collect And Analyze Attendee Data
In order to determine the ultimate success of your events beyond direct alumni feedback, you need to record all event attendance data and analyze it after your event. Without data, there is no way to truly measure the impact of your events on engagement and giving. This data should include information on registrations, attendance, and no-shows and walk-ins, which can be easily recorded and accessed through your event management platform and synced with your larger alumni database.
Keeping track of which events individuals choose to attend (or not attend) is important for identifying the target alumni demographic for specific events. For example, if you have a donor who gave your organization $10,000 last year, keeping track of the events he or she chose to attend allows you to make changes to the events that the donor skipped, in order to attract that donor (and other similar donors) to more events. If you are able to bring that $10,000 donor (and his friends) to more events this year, how does that affect his giving? These are very important questions for your organization to answer when determining the success of particular events.
This post originally appeared on eCampus News.