Engaging Recent Graduates & Young Alumni

Reaching younger demographics is growing more difficult every time a graduating class throws their caps to the sky.

Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash

Whether you’re going after recent letterwinners or alumni at any level, you’re fighting for a share of their time and mind.. against everything else in life.

The stress of having to look for a full-time job, (often times) move to a new city and create a fresh start normally takes priority over answering the call of the alumni association or letterwinner’s club.

Once the time is right for engagement between the recent grad and association, the message can easily fall on deaf ears if not delivered in an easily consumed & digested fashion.

Millennials are evolving in their consumption of information and so should the ways in which we communicate said information to them.


Through working with letterwinner organizations and alumni associations all over the country, we’ve found there are some challenges with engagement effectiveness and efficiency. Take for example this outreach strategy:

Once a month, we send out mass text messages, 50 at a time because we’ve been having issues with email open rates and content consumption.

— Unnamed Letterwinner Director in American Athletic Conference

Not only is this strenuous on the team sending out communication, but text message blasts don’t reduce the day-to-day bandwidth of managing this group.


It’s no secret that engaging alumni is crucial for the success of the fundraising arm of the athletic department or association. For starters, younger alumni present a real opportunity for associations to create increased life-time value for the university.

83% of millennials gave a gift to the university in 2012, up from 75% in 2011. Nationally, we estimate over 87% in 2018. via Blackbaud Interactive

The real question is, how do you tap into the giving potential of your younger alumni and letterwinners?


A few tips & strategies to engaging recent grads

No need to bite off more than you can chew, there are a few easy steps you can implement to get started.

Lower The Cost Of Engagement

Often times, graduates and young alumni don’t know how to give back and engage aside from making a donation to the university. Is signing up for an email list or following the association on Instagram enough?

A like or comment on a post might be for some parties, but for those directors and communication managers looking to take engagement to the next level, aim to capture real-estate on their mobile device. Having a presence on a home screen or secondary page whilst tapping into the power of push notifications can increase open rates and delivery by 3x.

Don’t Wait Until They’re Alumni

The key to long-term engagement is to connect with students on their first week on campus.

“If you are just reaching out when they become Alumni, the immediate reaction from them is going to be, ‘they want money’ ”— Chris Barrows of ecityinteractive.com

Make you presence felt, but still subtle. By engaging with them during their time on campus, it’s only natural to continue that relationship after they’ve left.

Create Value They Can’t Live Without

The network already exists, it’s your job to just connect the for the alumni. Provide the platform and ability to for younger alum’s to tap into it at any moment. To maintain mindshare and credibility in the minds of younger alumni, provide a level of access to the network of other alumni that they can’t get anywhere else but from you.

Alumni like to hire other alumni. You can also create value immediately for recent graduates and alumni by providing access to the career and job network among former student-athletes or alumni.


Connecting the dots is easy, but building the network isn’t. In taking full advantage of strategies and tactics to engage recent grads and young alumni, leverage existing technology and platforms that are built with your goal in mind.


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