“Alumni relations.” For many alumni, their first thought when hearing the department name is that they’re about to get hit up for donations. But many alumni relations departments want to go well beyond the annual giving campaign and build real relationships with their alumni. Keeping ties to the alma mater strong pays off in more opportunities for students, rewarding feedback for faculty, networking for the alumni, greater prestige for the school… and of course, hitting those fundraising targets. For the alumni relations department looking to solidify ties, webcasting is your friend. And all of the following projects may lead easily to greater engagement… and additional opportunities for fundraising in the future.
1. Webcast behind the scenes
The fans cheered for the thrilling layup, the Hail Mary pass, the dazzling halftime show. But in today’s world of behind-the-scenes access and special features, give your fans a little more. Invite them into locker rooms and out onto practice fields. Watch the point guard practice that layup, the receiver run that pattern in drills, the band members warm up. Give athletes and their fans a chance to interact. You can do a webcast that brings together the school’s top athletes and supporters, sharing behind-the-scenes vignettes and letting fans ask their favorite stars questions.
2. Updates from scholarship recipients
Every college has scholarship recipients who are up to amazing things. Whether doing a science project on the side, organizing an activist group, or taking a crazy class, they have stories to tell. In a webcast, a professor can ask them the questions that unveil their days.
3. Students abroad webcast
Students abroad are getting exposure to landmarks, sites, and things that usually only residents can see. Basically, they are experiencing what alumni want to experience when they go on their trips. Um, webcast?
4. Weekly, monthly, or quarterly events on campus
There are always groups of students who want to keep the rest of the world aware of what’s happening on campus. Line up this group to give regular updates to alums on what’s happening.
5. Faculty seminars webcasts
We’ve all seen videos of faculty giving lectures. What if professors were to sit in front of a video camera and hold a 1.5-hour interactive seminar based on a reading distributed beforehand? Alums would gladly patch in for some edification.
I’ve gone through just five ways that colleges and universities can keep a good relationship with their alumni via webcasting. All of these webcasts can be followed up with a call for funds. And all of them involve bringing alums closer to the action on campus. That may be the best way to build “alumni relations.”