From one of CASE’s discussion lists for alumni relations professionals, Dr. Mary Kay Cooper, Director of Alumni Relations for Trinity University in San Antonio, writes “As I think we all know, affinity reunions are a best practice in alumni relations. Research and our experiences tell us that graduates often gravitate toward other graduates who have like interests–often more so than gravitating toward classmates.”
And from Dr. Jim Flynn of Harford Survey Research, “We have also found that affinity groups are a good strategy for bringing alumni together. However, our approach has been to build on the student groups, organizations, teams, and activities that alumni were affiliated with as students. This information is either pulled from the school’s archival records, or it is collected with surveys. We try to build a core group of alumni within these different affinity groups who will recruit their friends and classmates to attend events. When schools develop local/regional alumni clubs, we use a similar approach realizing that this social network may not be established as well as the existing networks (fraternity brothers, athletic teams, etc). It’s always easier if you have a core group of people, e.g. a group of fraternity brothers, living in the same region; they can drive the recruitment efforts.
This effort really came about because alumni reported that they did not attend campus or regional events because these events were not well attended by classmates and friends. There was a concerted effort to obtain some sort of critical mass at these events. For the reunion and campus events, there was an effort to strengthen the local alumni clubs, and get these people to come back to campus (they had less of a problem with travel, etc.).”