The Alumni Trifecta: Association Best Practices for Engaging Rising Generations
Now armed with additional insights into new grads' needs, forward-looking institutions are responding to the new trifecta in several ways.
In my blog “This is Not Your Parents’ Alumni Association,” I shared recent research on what younger generations want most from an alumni organization. The findings revealed a noticeable shift in values and highlight an urgent need for organizations to adapt to the new “trifecta” of young alumni’s interests: social + career + learning.
Leaders of alumni organizations often inherit legacy programs designed for another era when both the methods of engagement and values differed. Now armed with additional insights into newer grads’ needs, forward-looking institutions are responding to the new trifecta in several ways.
New findings reveal a noticeable shift in values and highlight an urgent need for organizations to adapt to the new "trifecta" of younger alumni's interests: social + career + learning.
On the social front, alumni associations are engaging young alums in alumni relations planning efforts to ensure relevant programming and content. Several initiatives have stemmed from these collaborations including:
- Hosting student-to-alumni pathway events and programs connecting current students with young graduates
- Supporting alumni-originated dynamic alternatives to traditional clubs
- Supplying digital engagement platforms that enable alumni to find their tribes
Organizations are also partnering with career services to offer programs and assets to alumni, including adding alumni-populated online job boards and integrating networking functionality within online platforms. They are also evolving mentoring programs to be “higher value/lower commitment” and better at matchmaking and are working with local clubs and groups to offer industry-specific networking events.
Rising generations consider themselves lifelong learners and are interested in staying connected to their institutions on an intellectual level beyond graduation. In response, some alumni associations are using a “career relevant” screen on their alumni websites to identify digital learning content available across campus. They’re also identifying faculty stars to develop short, high-impact content features (e.g., key research findings, industry tips) and promoting online certificate and degree programs to alumni audiences.
In short, this is not our parents’ alumni association anymore. Organizational leaders are taking stock of the values and preferences of their young alumni populations and are innovating programs that promote long-term engagement with them. And it’s a win-win: Alumni are happier, and institutions have a platform for sustainable growth.