Every year your school farewells some of your best and most loyal customers – your graduating students (and their families)! It makes sense to retain a connection with your alumni, as they can be an untapped source of donations as well as customers for future fundraising events.
While high schools and universities might maintain contact with graduated students, primary schools can still facilitate an alumni program by continuing to communicate with parents of children who have left the school.
Why you should stay connected with alumni
Graduated students and their families are already familiar with your school community.
Graduates often have a sense of nostalgia or curiosity associated with their school.
High school students might be willing to volunteer at their old primary school for community service credits.
Families often stay in the same area and have a connection with the local community.
Your database of potential customers will just continue to grow every year, and if you use a free or cheap mail service such as Mailchimp, you can classify graduates into different groups (year of graduation, special interest groups etc), and it is quick and simple send hundreds or thousands of emails at a time.
How you can involve alumni with your fundraising
Send them invitations to special events or community fundraisers such as farmers markets, school fetes or art auctions.
Reach out to graduates if you are raising money to send a sporting team or musical group interstate for a special event or competition.
If your school does an annual fundraiser like the Entertainment Book or ongoing passive fundraising with IGA, it is easy to send alumni an annual reminder and encourage them to continue supporting your school.
Invite graduates back to your school to give talks about their careers or inspiring events that have shaped them.
If you are raising funds for a new building, ask alumni to ‘buy a brick’ or ‘sponsor a chair’ which will have their name on it.
Invite the parents of the previous year’s graduating students to a parent quiz or bingo night so they can reconnect with old friends.
Invite alumni families to support your fundraising efforts by sponsoring events or donating prizes in return for promotion and advertising to the school community.
Create a regular alumni networking event such as a Fun Run, dinner or retro quiz night which gives graduates the chance to catch up and re-connect as well as raise funds for the school. Invite successful or well-known alumni to open the event, give a speech or perform at your event.
Invite them to contribute to a crowdfunding appeal.
Set up a Facebook group or page for alumni for networking purposes. Ask alumni to share social media posts when promoting a fete or other community event.
Alumni might be willing to donate to a special scholarship for a current student.
Remember that you need to cultivate and respect your school’s relationship with graduated students and their families. You cannot simply treat them as an endless source of income. Celebrate their successes, promote their businesses, hold free community events or offer graduates discounts to attend. Don’t let the only time you contact alumni be when you’re asking for money – remember, it is a lifetime relationship.
“There is evidence of a strong association between student achievement and the way in which a school engages with its parent and broader community. We believe alumni are an essential part of a school’s community, who are uniquely placed to inspire current and future students and staff and provide much needed funds and other philanthropic support to disadvantaged schools.” SchoolsPlus https://www.schoolsplus.org.au/