Engaging Young Alumni in Meaningful Conversations

Posted on 04/01/2020

One of the most significant predictors of the long-term health and sustainability of an educational institution’s advancement program is young alumni engagement. A great way to achieve this is to reach out to young alumni directly and to meet with them one-on-one. Whether these meetings take place in person, over the phone, or through video chat, the key to having a successful conversation is to ask engaging questions—ones that can help you get to know a prospect and inform the potential ask. 

Here are five questions to ask young alumni that will get them talking and equip you with significant insights about them:

  1. How was your student experience? Something as simple as asking them to share their “school story” or “favorite professor” can give you a sense of their interests and feelings about your institution. Reflecting on meaningful memories will also help build rapport for the conversation and stimulate positive feelings and nostalgia. 
  2. How has your alumni experience been so far? Asking how the transition from student to alumni has gone can provide understanding about capacity as well as their feelings about your institution’s engagement strategy. It is also a great way to get feedback on communication and event efforts.
  3. How would you like to stay connected with your alma mater? Many recent grads are still defining who they are as a person. Presenting ways for them to stay connected through activities, events, publications, volunteer opportunities, or even giving can offer a meaningful experience for them while providing help and support for the organization.
  4. What can the institution do to be helpful to you? The more you can find opportunities to add value to young alumni, the more likely they will stay connected and feel gratitude down the line. Career support, networking, and continuing education offerings are just a few examples of resources recent grads could find helpful. Make it about them first and foremost. 
  5. Are there specific organizations or “causes” you see yourself supporting in the future? This type of inquiry can help gather insight about their orientation towards giving. Understanding perspectives on philanthropy can also frame the level of your ask.

Preparing the right questions will help guide your conversations with young leaders to build meaningful relationships. As these relationships grow and young alumni deepen their engagement, there’s no question you’ll be priming the next generation of major donors for your institution.

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