Refs, umps and apps: Mobile apps for school sports
From area school districts and technical schools to colleges and universities, alumni are an essential piece of fundraising for many educational institutions across Canada. Some fundraising efforts are more ambitious than others: from small campaigns to fund new sports equipment at an elementary school to the University of Toronto’s “Boundless” fundraising initiative, which aims to raise $2 billion, with alumni among its prime target audience.Even for seasoned fundraisers, there are still hidden opportunities. One unique audience includes recent graduates. Often overlooked, this group knows how to stay connected. It’s likely you recognize their potential and have already begun to tap your “young” alumni market, but here are a few more ideas to add to your toolkit:Stay in touch
Grow your alumni connection by staying connected from the very beginning with your recent grads. If you haven’t already, you will want to think about creating a page on your website or through social media channels showcasing their achievements as they progress in their professions! According to Netwits Think Tank blogger Frank Barry, “Schools have a unique opportunity to build their Facebook® following and stay connected with alumni due to the captive audience and deep relationships that are built with students, families and faculty.” A few methods Barry recommends to get students and alumni to interact with you is to entice them with a competition, discount or video only accessible via social media.

Start early
Recognize bright young alumni early. It is a gesture they will remember for the long-run, one that will likely secure their support in the future. Draw attention to them now instead of waiting until they have become CEOs or receive a prestigious award. Indeed, chances are, their affinities likely started early, maybe even with you! Recognize those accomplishments now, and when they’re looking to give back, they will be more than willing. Here are some examples of ways to recognize young alums:

  • An elementary school can recognize the accomplishments of athletic alumni that competed at province- or nationwide competitions by inviting them to come and talk during gym class or perhaps participate in a field day. Get the younger crowd excited by distributing rally towels or emblazoned baseball caps to support the returning alumni. Then, the alumni can demonstrate some of their skills and help students develop their own. The event will be a morale-builder for students and staff, and the alumni will appear as a role model to the students.
  • A junior high school could honour the accomplishments of an alumnus in high school who may have recently achieved a Girl Greatness Award in Girl Guides or the Chief Scout’s Award in Scouts—some of the highest achievements for those respective clubs. Use them as examples of leadership at a school rally and present them with a reflections photo frame with a picture of them when they attended your school and one of them now to show your pride in where they’ve come from and where they are going.
  • Did your high school help influence a couple of science whizzes along the way? Invite an alumni studying science to speak to a special physics section or ask engineer alumni to lead a robotics class. You could give them school hoodies to wear as a token of your appreciation and then afterwards, they could distribute promotional laser pointers to the students as a reminder to stay focused!

Maybe you know a group of alumni who attended your university and have now formed a band that plays at local events and dreams of scoring a record deal someday. Tell them they’re awesome by inviting them to play at a school social or during the half-time show at a game. Give out something fun like pennant to cheer on your school—and the great-sounding alumni it turned out. Print the band’s YouTube® or Facebook® page and Twitter® handle (and yours) so you can grow your support together!

High schools, school districts, colleges—there are opportunities for each to exhibit the successes of their talented “young” alumni. Don’t wait for them to make it to the Olympics or Big Screen. Show your alumni that you care about their successes now and they will be more likely to care about yours down the road!

University of Toronto. Boundless: The Campaign for the University of Toronto Surpasses $1 Billion Raised. 30 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 Sept. 2012.

Barry, Frank. “22 Ways to Stay Connected with Your School’s Alumni on Facebook.” 22 Ways to Stay Connected with Your Schools Alumni on Facebook | NetwitsThinkTank.com. NetwitsThinkTank.com, 11 July 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2012.

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