How to Engage Alumni: Marketing Strategies & Tips

By Anne Lauth

How to Engage Alumni: Marketing Strategies & Tips


Remember that feeling of excitement and belonging you had on graduation day? Universities are realizing the power of keeping that flame alive for their alumni base. However, simply sending out a printed newsletter just won't cut it anymore. Like anyone else in this world, alumni face information overload, and capturing their attention requires a strong strategic approach.

An alumni network translates into real benefits. Engaged alumni become brand advocates, boosting your university's reputation. They can also become donors to your university. They can provide valuable career guidance to current students.

As Amélie-Anne Gauthier, Development and Communications Officer with the Alumni Office at Université de Moncton, puts it, “Our goal has always been to engage with the alumni base — keep them connected, make sure they have a positive experience with the university, and keep a relationship with the university after graduation.” But how do you achieve this in the digital age?

Here at Foleon, we've seen universities show incredible creativity in achieving alumni engagement and forging stronger connections with their graduates. From award-winning content to innovative outreach channels, the possibilities are (almost) endless. Let's have a look at some inspiring alumni marketing strategies you can implement to reignite the flame of your alumni network.

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Alumni marketing strategies: rekindle the flame with great content

Every good marketing strategy starts with great content. You've probably heard this before, simply because it's true. If you want your readers to come back to your publications you need to give them something to crave, something that will make them long for your next edition. Forget your printed magazine; offer them innovation. And remember: their time is precious. 

Digital alumni magazines, or how to rekindle the connection

Do you also have alumni magazines gathering dust on your coffee table? Or the PDF version of that magazine that you downloaded months ago but never took the time to open? Gone are the days of static PDFs. Take a cue from VU's (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) online alumni magazine — a shining example of fostering connection through engaging content.

VU Almini marketing magazine

Here's what makes it such a great example: 

  • They start with a quote to immerse the reader in the story immediately and make it personal. They also added a portrait of the quote's author to humanize it. 
  • With this digital version of the magazine, the reader gets the same experience as when reading a paper version of the magazine, only more immersive.
  • The content is digestible, and this is very important to keep the reader engaged. (remember what we said: their time is precious.)
  • They put the spotlight on other alumni by featuring them in blog posts. This is a great way to make other members project themselves in the online magazine as well.
  • They recommend readings and more to create a sense of community and sharing (more on that later).

Here's how you can reignite the flame through an alumni magazine:

  • Showcase university achievements and updates: keep your alumni informed about the university's latest advancements and research breakthroughs.
  • Feature alumni success stories: celebrate the achievements of your graduates and inspire current students.
  • Highlight faculty interviews and research: offer alumni a window into the university's ongoing intellectual pursuits.
  • Create engaging and immersive digital magazines: Craft visually appealing and interactive magazines that captivate your audience, with Foleon, for example. ;)

A need for transformation

We saw a great example of this transformation amongst our very own customers. 

"We knew that we were at the end of an era," explained Amélie-Anne Gauthier, Development and Communications Officer at Université de Moncton. "Our traditional printed alumni magazine just wasn't cutting it anymore. We needed to transition to something more interactive, a platform that would keep our alumni engaged."

Amélie-Anne also highlighted PDFs' limitations: "We knew that eventually, we would have to move to another kind of platform. PDFs simply weren't an option." PDFs lack the dynamism and interactivity needed to capture attention in today's digital world.

The Université de Moncton's decision to switch to Foleon for their online alumni magazine paid off in a big way. "In the first year, we even won a national Prix d’Excellence gold medal from CCAE," beams Gauthier. "It was a great pride and joy to receive this recognition, especially for a small team like ours."

Read more about how the Université de Moncton creates immersive content to engage with their alumni community.

Université de Moncton Alumni magazine 2

Beyond magazines

While alumni magazines are a great foundation, we suggest crafting a diverse content marketing strategy that goes beyond. Let's look at some additional ideas to keep your alumni engaged and connected:

Exclusive online content:

Create a hub for exclusive online content like informative webinars, thought-provoking video lectures, or even online courses. Your alumni have a dormant student within them that will always crave more knowledge, and this is what your university is here to bring them (even after they graduate). This fosters a sense of community and provides valuable resources your alumni will appreciate. Consider topics relevant to their careers or current interests.

Career resources and workshops:

Partner with your career services department to develop engaging content tailored to alumni needs. Offer workshops on career development topics, interview skills coaching, or access to alumni career mentorship programs. This not only supports their professional growth but also strengthens the alumni network. University of Waterloo alumni handbook Foleon example


Alumni spotlights and interviews:

Shine a light on your graduates' inspiring journeys! Create captivating interviews and profiles that showcase alumni achievements. This will celebrate individual success, motivate current students, and foster pride within the alumni community.Université de Moncton Alumni magazine


Cultivating donor loyalty through impactful storytelling

While fostering a strong alumni network is valuable in itself, universities also have fundraising goals, and engaged alumni make for more receptive donors. And what better way to engage with alumni than to use captivating storytelling techniques?

As Amélie-Anne Gauthier, Development and Communications Officer at Université de Moncton, puts it, "We love to share success stories with our alumni, and storytelling is mostly what we do… it’s really at the center of our strategy." 

Building a case for donations (focus on emotional connection)

Alumni are often the most passionate and invested supporters a university can have. They understand the value of the education they received and the impact it had on their lives. Because they've been through it themselves. 

The key to "unlocking their generosity" lies in showing them the tangible impact of donations. Donors want to see how their contributions are making a real difference.

Showcasing impact through storytelling

Take a look at the UNLV Foundation's annual report, it's a great example of using storytelling to connect with alumni on an emotional level.

This report doesn't simply list numbers and statistics. It tells stories. 

It features students whose lives were transformed thanks to scholarship support and showcases cutting-edge research advancements made possible by donations. By introducing these narratives into the report, the UNLV Foundation creates an emotional connection with alumni, inspiring them to invest in the future of the university.

UNLV Yearly report

Here are some practical tips for incorporating impactful storytelling into your fundraising efforts:

  • Highlight student success stories: showcase how scholarships and financial aid have helped students achieve their academic goals. Feature interviews and testimonials from scholarship recipients allowing them to express their gratitude and the impact the support has had on their lives.
  • Connect with alumni values: tailor your stories to resonate with your alumni's values and interests. Does your university have a strong focus on social justice or environmental sustainability? Showcase how donations are supporting initiatives that align with these values, demonstrating how alumni can contribute to a cause they care about.

Content Strategies for effective alumni donation requests

Now that you've established a strong emotional connection with your alumni through impactful storytelling, it's time to make the ask. The good news is that digital content offers a significant advantage: clear calls to action (CTAs).

Impactful CTAs

Gone are the days of relying solely on mailed brochures with vague donation requests. Digital content allows you to integrate clear and compelling CTAs in your alumni content. These CTAs can direct alumni to dedicated donation pages or include embedded donation forms right within the content itself.

Here's a short checklist of how to make your CTAs impactful: 

Clarity: use strong action verbs like "Donate Now," "Support This Initiative," or "Invest in the Future."

Impact: reinforce the emotional connection by briefly mentioning the impact of donations within your CTA. For example, "Donate Now and Help Deserving Students Achieve Their Dreams."

Urgency (optional): in some cases, creating a sense of urgency can encourage action. Use phrases like "Limited Time Matching Gift" or "Help Us Reach Our Goal by [Date]." However, be mindful of using urgency tactics too frequently, as it can backfire.

Test: don't be afraid to experiment with different CTA wording and placement to see what resonates best with your alumni audience. Track your results and refine your CTAs over time for optimal, effective

Explore: Creative brochure examples for students

Making donations easy

Take advantage of Foleon's capabilities (or similar digital publishing platforms) to incorporate donation forms or buttons directly within your alumni Foleon Doc, like the UNLV Foundation's annual report. This eliminates the need for alumni to navigate to a separate website, making the donation process quick and convenient.


Remember, alumni are individuals, not a generic audience. Personalized communication goes a long way in boosting your donation success rate. Consider segmenting your alumni base by interests, graduation year, or areas of study. This allows you to tailor your donation requests and storytelling to resonate with specific alumni groups.


Are you looking for inspiration on what content to create to entice donations? Explore the content compass and find your next content destination. 


How to build a community through alumni marketing strategies

Strong alumni communities benefit graduates, provide a valuable network for current students, and strengthen the university's reputation. As Christine Goucher, Creative Director at the University of Waterloo, puts it, "Maintaining strong relationships with alumni requires a sense of community to encourage continued engagement and philanthropy." Let's explore strategies for building a strong alumni community.

Strategies for alumni community building

Alumni want to feel connected to their alma mater and fellow graduates, not just after graduation but throughout their lives.

Build a resource hub:

The University of Waterloo's alumni handbook is a perfect example. This resource provides valuable information and keeps graduates connected to the university, fostering a sense of belonging. From career counseling to networking, this handbook is a true content hub for alumni to find what they're looking for. 

University of Waterloo alumni handbook Foleon example 2

Here are some more tips to build a thriving alumni community:

Develop an alumni app or portal: create a dedicated online space for alumni to connect and engage. This platform can offer exclusive content like career resources, alumni directories, event calendars, or even job offers. It's also a great place to include an inbox for alumni to stay connected or get in touch with current students. Audencia Business School is a great example of that. Also, think about incorporating social media features to facilitate interaction and a sense of community.

Alimni marketing strategy example - Audencia

Organize online and offline events: offer a variety of events to cater to diverse alumni interests. Host online networking events for alumni working in specific industries, organize virtual webinars on relevant topics, and plan in-person reunions for local chapters. 

Take a page out of the University of Waterloo's playbook; they excel at organizing a wide range of alumni events, including alumni weekend events!

University of Waterloo alumni events

While online events offer convenience and accessibility, there's something truly special about meeting in person. Face-to-face interactions create a deeper sense of connection and shared experience. Alumni reunions, local chapter gatherings, or even social events built around shared interests provide a platform for alumni to reminisce, build new relationships, and strengthen their bond with the university. Don't underestimate the will of your alumni to reconnect with their classmates. 

Establish mentorship programs: Connect alumni with current students through mentorship programs. This not only benefits students by providing guidance and career advice but also allows alumni to stay involved with the university and give back to the next generation.


Two-way communication, or the art of keeping alumni engaged

Just like any relationship, fostering a strong alumni network requires consistent communication. Regular interactions keep alumni connected, informed, and engaged with the university throughout their lives.

Here's how to maintain a steady dialogue with your alumni base:

Regular email newsletters

Don't let communication fizzle out after graduation. Send out periodic email newsletters featuring university updates, alumni spotlights, or upcoming events. Be careful not to send too many communications, though.

Acadia University's newsletter, for example, comes out every 4 months. This way, they don't overcrowd their alumni's inboxes and ensure they always have something to share in their newsletter. They created this newsletter in Foleon, which allows the reader to access previous editions of the newsletter easily!

Acadia university newsletters

Celebrate milestones

Graduation jubilees are a perfect opportunity to reconnect with alumni. Organize special events that celebrate their time at the university and encourage them to reminisce and reconnect with classmates. 

Use social media

Be where your audience is. Use social media platforms—Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the best—to connect and engage with your alumni community. Share interesting content and stories of workshops happening, host live Q&A sessions with faculty, or encourage interaction through polls and discussions. UC Merced is a great example of how to build a strong social media strategy.



We've explored a range of strategies to reignite the flame of your alumni network. From compelling content to fostering a sense of community, the possibilities are endless. 

As you implement these strategies, monitor your results closely. Track engagement metrics, analyze what resonates with your alumni, and adapt your approach accordingly. Building a strong alumni network is an ongoing process, a continuous conversation.

The ultimate goal? Creating a thriving community where alumni feel valued, connected, and inspired to give back. A community that not only strengthens your university's reputation but also empowers future generations of students.

Anne Lauth

Anne is the Customer Content Marketer at Foleon. She loves chatting with customers and discovering the secrets behind their content. Anne's extensive experience in content creation fuels her genuine passion for all things content-related.

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