Graphic image with the phrase 'Strategic plan to engage alumni'

Top Strategies for Engaging Modern Higher Ed Alumni

Graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between students and their colleges and universities. By gaining a new class of alumni, the higher education institution has the opportunity to foster relationships that can enhance its reputation and well-being. 

However, navigating the challenges and opportunities of alumni engagement requires strategic planning and innovative approaches.

Top Alumni Engagement Challenges


Keeping alumni contact details current 

As alumni progress in their careers and personal lives, they frequently relocate or change their contact information, especially their email addresses. This makes it difficult for institutions to engage alumni with relevant opportunities; often, they cannot reach alumni in the first place. 

Catering to diverse alumni communities

No two alumni have the same personal interests, communication preferences, or career challenges. This diversity makes it challenging to create engagement opportunities that appeal to a wide spectrum of alumni.

Finding the right balance in communication

Achieving the right balance in communication frequency and modality is crucial in engaging alumni effectively. Too much communication can overwhelm alumni and lead to disengagement, whereas too little communication can lead alumni to disconnect from their institution as a whole or even feel negatively about the prospect of alumni involvement.

Maintaining long-term interest

As your alumnus’ interests, habits, and lifestyles evolve post-graduation, it can be difficult to maintain their emotional connections and investment in your institution. As students' memories of their time on campus fade, so too might their interest in keeping up with current institutional news, events, and needs. 

Top Ways to Engage Alumni


Encourage alumni to provide updated contact information

Even the best communication efforts will be ineffective if those messages never reach their targets. If responses to an engagement campaign are low, consider: are your alumni even receiving your emails or fliers? 

You can incentivize alumni to provide their latest contact info through prizes offered via social media, by promoting events that require updated contacts, and by asking for updated contacts whenever an alumni attends an event in person or online. 

Additionally, you can reach students through a channel that is less likely to have changed since graduation: their cell phone. The University of Notre Dame found that students change those numbers less frequently than their email or home addresses. Better yet, texting outdated numbers often allows Notre Dame’s alumni engagement team to acquire the targeted alumni’s updated contact info—as an alumni’s parents will respond, explaining that the number is actually their own but that they’re happy to provide contacts for the alum.  

Tailor opportunities to diverse segments of alumni

Be sure to offer a wide range of activities, events, and alumni engagement programs that cater to different interests and demographics within your alumni network. As the blog post will expand upon shortly, alumni engagement data can help you better understand your alumni and, thus, design fitting opportunities that are advertised through the right channels.

Leverage a variety of communication channels

Alumni, as with current students, have a variety of communication preferences and habits. Using a variety of communication channels can help you expand your reach, prevent alumni from feeling overwhelmed, and make each message more engaging. Channels to consider include emails, digital newsletters, social media, and text messaging. 

Multimedia can also help engage alumni with different learning styles. Consider embedding videos and voice notes within emails, sending single-question surveys through social media, and inviting attendees to attend interactive web events. Advanced text messaging platforms, such as Modern Campus Message, allow you to connect alumni one-on-one with videos, photos, images, and gifs embedded within SMS messaging. 

Adopt technologies to fit alumni’s involving needs

Modern tools can help your institution develop personalized experiences and cater to diverse alumni interests. 

One such tool is a CMS that’s purpose-built for higher education. Modern Campus CMS, for instance, makes website personalization easy and rewarding. 

Though these tools are perhaps best known for allowing marketing and admissions teams to design digital experiences that cater to different prospective student personas, that same flexibility and customization can easily apply to alumni engagement. With creative personalization, you can design an alumni home page that delivers the right content to the right alumni segments.

Additionally, adopting a texting platform can allow you to simultaneously send hundreds or thousands of messages to alumni, scheduled at the right time. If you’re worried about responding to all incoming replies quickly and accurately, consider a Blended Messaging approach, which combines AI with human-generated conversations to enable smooth, personalized messaging at scale with minimal staff resources.

How to Adopt a Strategic Alumni Engagement Plan


Assess current alumni engagement

Evaluate your current practices, programs, and communication strategies to understand what’s working well and what needs improvement.

Set clear goals

Establish specific, measurable goals that align with your institution’s mission and vision.

Allocate resources

Dedicate sufficient resources—including staff, budget, and technology—to support the implementation of the strategic plan.

Gather feedback and involve stakeholders

The best alumni engagement plans aren’t determined by staff alone. You should involve current students (who will soon become alumni), faculty (who may still be in touch with alumni), and, of course, alumni themselves to develop a realistic plan that aligns with current alumni's interests, habits, and preferences.

How to Measure Alumni Engagement



Gather feedback from alumni about their level of engagement, satisfaction with the institution, and interest in participating in specific types of events or programs.

Event attendance and volunteer participation

Tracking alumni attendance at reunions, networking programs, career fairs, and other events—including webinars and other virtual programs—will allow you to see engagement trends over time and determine which sorts of programs interest alumni most. Similarly, be sure to track the number of alumni who volunteer their time to support the institution, such as by serving on advisory boards, mentoring students, or organizing events.

Social media metrics

Monitor engagement on social media platforms to see how many alumni are interacting with the institution's content. Most platforms make viewing real-time analytics related to likes, comments, views, and shares free and easy.

Alumni are notoriously difficult to engage. However, you can optimize your existing engagement strategies by securing accurate contact information, diversifying your communication channels to engage diverse individuals, and leveraging emerging technologies. Additionally, you can understand your successes and missteps by analyzing alumni engagement metrics to inform continual decision-making.


How Texting Can Help You Better Engage & Inspire  Alumni to Take Action - download now

Jodi Tandet

Jodi Tandet

Jodi Tandet is Modern Campus's Manager of Brand Content. She's holds a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing from Emory University and a Master's in College Student Affairs from Nova Southeastern University. As a campus professional, she's advised student organizations, planned co-curricular events, developed leadership programs and staffed trips abroad. Jodi lives in Riverview, Florida with her canine roommate, Maisi.

Connect with her on LinkedIn:

Last updated: February 26, 2024


We use cookies on this website to enhance your experience and improve our services and our website’s functionality. By continuing to use our website, which includes remaining on this landing page, you consent to the use of cookies and agree to our Privacy Policy.