Our alma maters give us the tangibles like degrees and certificates that alter the course of our careers and lives. They also give us human connections, friends, and mentors.
And, sometimes – for those of us who are extra lucky – they give us love.
This Valentine’s Day we’re giving you a step-by-step guide for how you can engage alumni by tapping into the power of love to deepen relations and strengthen ties to your institutions. We’ll talk about how to source, celebrate, and steward your alumni love stories through social listening, smart segmentation, meaningful mail pieces, and personalized video.
Read on for a step-by-step guide that will heat up your outreach to some of your most loyal supporters including…
- Story sourcing on social
- Building dynamic lists to monitor engagement
- Sending amazing direct mail on anniversaries
- Sending love-themed personalized videos
- SWAG, events, and other great ideas
- Cadenced outreach to deepen relationships
Step 1: Source alumni love stories on social
OK, let’s all agree that you’ve got to meet your alums where they’re at (online).
According to this report from London-based research engine GWI on 2022 social media trends, “Despite growing competition, Facebook isn’t going anywhere. It tops our global leadership board and most younger consumers use it each month.”
Facebook matters, and it’s a great place to share your school’s message and reach more alums., Plus, with EverTrue, all Facebook interaction is trackable.
We mined the social troves in search of institutions that are taking to Facebook to source amazing love stories.
They’ve got a memorable hashtag, they have a sweet video that represents love of all kinds, and they got some great traction on social. Check it out.
Our friends at UConn also do an incredible job of sourcing and celebrating alumni love stories on social. They source #UConnValentine stories every year, so it’s a recognized part of their social media strategy.
They keep it inclusive by sourcing #UConnLove and UConnFriendship stories, plus they pair the annual story sourcing with a UConn sweatshirt giveaway (everyone loves swag!).
After they collect stories of love from the Husky community, the UConn team shares them across their social platforms, uses them in annual appeals, and they highlight the best stories in their alumni magazine.
Step 2: Building dynamic lists to monitor engagement
After getting your alumni love stories buzzing on social, you have DO something with all that amazing engagement. How? By building dynamic lists and monitoring social engagement alongside giving information.
By sharing videos on Facebook, in EverTrue, you can monitor social engagement with your posts and view them alongside information like…
Which of your post engagers are assigned to gift officer portfolios?
Which ones gave a gift in the last 3 months?
Which ones are SYBUNTS, and just changed jobs, and are celebrating a milestone reunion this year?
You can search Facebook posts by keyword (that way, your Valentine’s hashtags can live on forever!) or search past contact reports by words like “couple,” “spouse,” or “partner.”
Step 3: Send amazing direct mail
So, you’ve created amazing content on social to capture the attention of your alums. And you’re monitoring digital engagers and comparing them alongside other data points. Now, you’ve got to celebrate these love stories.
An important note here: There are lots of opportunities to celebrate alumni couples aside from Valentine’s Day. Think gift anniversaries, Commencement weekend, Pride month, move-in weekend…
And just like people have different love languages, different alumni prefer to hear from their alma maters via different channels. Some want to engage with you on social. Some want to get the alumni magazine. Some want to see video updates from campus. And some alumni want to receive direct mail.
Check out some of these amazing direct mail campaigns that schools have sent to celebrate love…
The Alpha Chi Omega Sorority Foundation sent an amazing Galentine’s Day appeal: “Real, strong women supporting real, strong women.”
Western Carolina University held a month-long celebration of “I Love WCU.” If 1,000 people donated in the month of February, the board chair and three previous board chairs would donate an additional $100,000. So, they’re building legacy giving traditions with their leaders, running a micro-campaign (we love micro-campaigns), and building a community around love. Check, check, check!
Pro Tip: Direct mail is a great way to collect more valid email addresses. Try this!
- Identify some alumni couples you don’t have a valid email or phone number for, but who’s mailing address you DO have.
- Send them a direct mail piece with a QR code to sign up for a giveaway by driving them to an email sign-up form.
- Boom! More contactable emails in your database.
Step 4: Send a personalized video
After you engage more alumni couples into the fold with direct mail, well, you’ve just got to send them a video.
Did you know our brains process images 60,000x faster than text? And the average person spends 100 minutes per day watching video content?
Videos matter. AND they work. Check out some of our favorites.
Northern Arizona University (featuring their mascot and a lot of good lumberjack puns) Watch!
University School of Milwaukee (filmed on their iPhone and put together in about a day) Watch!
Oregon State University (A special Galentine’s Day message) Watch!
University of Lynchburg (Celebrating love, all year round!) Watch!
Drake University (featuring a very cute bulldog) Watch Below!
ThankView By the numbers:
- There were over 3.7MM ThankViews sent in the month of November ALONE.
- ThankView videos get over 2x the open rate of regular emails, and 12x the click through rate.
- Retention increases as much as 65% when donors received a ThankView.
Step 5: Send swag
People love stuff. And at EverTrue, we love sending stuff.
We send onesies to customers who have babies. Why not send onesies to alum couples celebrating their new arrivals?
Ashland University created limited edition Ashland University socks to give to donors who booked a meeting. Send matching socks to your alumni couples!
Step 6: Track engagement and deepen relationships
Across our customer base, we found that about ~9% of engaged alumni are ONLY interacting digitally.
Those 9% of digital engagers on social are raising their hands to tell you that they love you!
And you have GOT to follow-up with them in a politely persistent manner. Here’s one recent example of the power of polite persistence from one of our Donor Experience partner institutions:
After a number of outreach attempts, a Donor Experience Officer re-engaged an alumni couple. The couple had a lifetime giving of $9,000 and are now documenting a six-figure planned gift.
This is just one example of the philanthropic power of your alumni couples – you’ve just got to find them AND reach out to deepen engagement!