Even though campuses empty out over the summer, it’s probably the best time to schedule fun events that excite your alumni – it’s easier to take vacation time, the kids are out of school and the weather makes it much easier to hold functions outside.
And so, in honor of the heatwave that recently struck Boston, we decided to create a master list of the 10 best alumni events of the summer:
1. Beach PartyRutgers Young Alumni capped off their beach party with a water ballon toss.
This event is pretty self-explanatory, and works especially well if your institution is close to a great beach. Get some food, drinks, and frisbees together, and have some fun in the sun and sand.
There are many ways to hold a beach party: Rutgers, for example, had an event exclusively for young alumni at a beachside bar, while Georgia Southern had a family-friendly affair. No matter how you jump in, everyone loves the beach!
2. Music Festivals
Enjoying live music was a big part of my summers growing up, and latching on to an existing music festival is a super-simple way to get a big turnout from alums during the summer.
For example, Amherst College alumni groups from around the country plan excursions to music festivals and concerts throughout the summer, sometimes to see Amherst alums perform. Amherst also smartly works with venues to occasionally offer discounted tickets to alums – another great way to drive up attendance.
Checkered table cloths, wicker baskets, watermelon – pretty self-explanatory, but totally awesome – throw a picnic just for alums, either on campus or at other sites nationwide.The UTEP Alumni Picnic
Many schools already embrace picnicking: Oberlin College holds picnics throughout the summer at different alumni’s houses around the country, while UTEP has one right on campus (see right). On the high school level, Poway High School in California has an awesome alumni picnic complete with awesome alumni guitar performances.
4. Beer Pong Tournament
Technically, a beer pong tournament could be held at any time of year, but why not take advantage of the sunshine and have it outside?
That’s exactly what the Harvard Club of Princeton did earlier in the summer. The group organized a summer barbecue during the day at an alum’s house, and then an Ivy League beer pong tournament for the adults at night.
Obviously, an event like this is 21+, but the logistics are pretty easy, and it’s a great way to hype school spirit and attract young graduates.
5. International Trips
This idea may be limited to high ed institutions with somewhat larger budgets, but organizing international trips only available to alumni and parents is a great way to deeply engage older constituents. There are also a zillion vendors in the industry (like AHI, Gohagan & Co. or GoNext) that make it easier, albeit expensive, to set up a trips program.
This concept has gotten more popular over recent years, especially among larger higher-ed institutions – for example, check out what Yale, Dartmouth, and UCLA have to offer.
6. Golf Outing
There’s a seemingly endless list of schools and other groups that have alumni golf tournaments and outings. But to get really innovative, try holding a putting contest prior to the tournament, as UCLA does, or selling mulligans as an easy way of raising more money (check out more great ideas here).
For other examples of great alumni golf tournaments by independent schools, check out St. Paul’s, Hopkins, or Rivers Academy (or Christian Brothers Academy).
7. Sporting Events
Many pro sports teams offer group tickets at a discounted rate, so it’s simple to organize an outing to see the most popular team in your area. For added fun, set up an event before the game with some ballpark food and drinks so your alums can socialize.Whether it’s Fenway or even a minor league stadium, a pro sports game is always a great summer event for alumni.
Tufts does exactly that with alums at a Red Sox game every year, while a regional chapter of Colgate alumni in San Francisco go to a Giants game and meet up at a bar beforehand.
8. Summer Send-offs
The idea is simple – get together the incoming freshmen from a certain area and give them a chance to meet some of your institution’s most active alumni.
Many schools have embraced the concept, and while it’s not exclusively an alumni event, it’s an excellent way to create some school spirit and make incoming freshman aware of the power of alumni connections. For example, check out how Fordham and the University of Arizona have organized send-offs all over the country.
9. Sports Competitions
Frisbee, croquet, corn hole, kanjam – you name it, we’ve championed all the lawnsports. And in general, sports competitions are a great way to use your constituents’ competitive drive to get them thinking about your institution.
One of our personal favorites is a Bocce Ball tournament: San Diego State has held one for the last seven years, complete with an engraved trophy, sudden-death bracket play and pizza and drinks for all the participants.
10. Boat Cruises
Boat cruises are always super-popular events with lots of different groups, and your constituents are no exception. Some schools host their own cruises just for their alumni, but my personal favorites are the cruises where grads from many schools participate, like the NESCAC Young Alumni Cruise in New York. That way, the opportunities for networking are endless, and your alums can still connect with classmates from your institution.
Want more strategies to maximize alumni engagement? Download our whitepaper, “Why Fundraisers Should Care about Involved Alumni”:
Have more ideas for great events? Let us know in the comments below.
Wondering how you can provide more value to your alumni? Mike Troiano of G20 Ventures has a few ideas.