Alumni: Your Booster Club’s Sleeping Giant – Part 1 of 2

by Michael Garcia on April 25, 2014

Alumni: Your Booster Club's Sleeping Giant  - Part 1 of 2

3 reasons for WHY you need to stay in touch with alumni:

This is the first of a two part article series, with the first covering the topic of WHY you must stay in touch with alumni, and the second being HOW your booster club can go about doing that.

Over 90% of the schools that I talk with do not keep track of their alumni. And of the schools that do have those loose relations to their alumni network, none have athletic or arts specific connections with past participants, which turns out to be fatal when trying to maximize fundraising and build sustainable programs.  

There are 3 main reasons why the Alumni connection is vital to your programs’ futures.

1)      Alumni = $

If I were to ask you what were the best memories you had in high school, I’m guessing that the majority of responses would not revolve around that geography test that everyone failed, but would heavily index more toward the successful experiences brought on by the arts, athletic and extra-curricular activities. The bus-rides, the buzzer-beaters, the camps, the practices, the stories…all of these things have a special place in our lives and memories and is one of high school’s greatest exports. So why shouldn’t high schools capitalize on the memories and experiences that only high schools can provide?

If you talk with any public school, 9.9 times out of 10 alumni are lost to the annals of the yearbook and have not been communicated with, solicited, or cultivated until reunions occur. Private schools, for financial survival, do a great job at soliciting their alumni for general purposes, but could garner much more sustained support and involvement, both financially and otherwise if they would specifically tie the arts and athletic activities that the alumnus was involved in with scheduled communications and solicitations. Alumni would feel a stronger, deeper connection to their alma mater via their past extra-curricular activities involved in, and in 20 years, after that all-star athlete or 4-time lead in the play have families of their own, that connection and relationship has not been severed. What happens is when those same alumni, no matter their giving past, are ready and able to give, or maybe give a major gift, they will not feel like their school forgot about them and will be more than willing to support their school and, even more specifically, their interests that house the fondest memories.

2)      Alumni Parents = $$

While alumni are crucial, alumni parents are probably even more critical for two reasons:

  • Parents of alumni have money…or at least more of it. A recent high school grad or college student does not have the amount of discretionary income that their parents do, and in 4 years, when their son or daughter is now out of college, those parents will now be reaching or in the middle of their peak earning years, making it a perfect time to solicit and solidify those relationships.
  • They gave a lot. While they were not out practicing, playing or sweating, parents of alumni were in the stands cheering, volunteering, giving money to allow their kids to play, driving and scheduling to make sure their kids got to where they needed to be, and feeding, sheltering, comforting and celebrating with their kids as they reached their goals. This is powerful stuff that lasts a lifetime so it makes a lot of sense to capture that love and support and have the parents of alumni adopt your school as their own (especially since their high school has probably lost touch with them already).

3)      Tradition = Success, Community and Culture

Celebrating alumni, bringing them back and connecting them to today are other ways to improve your program in the win column and help current participants perform to the best of their abilities. Everyone likes being part of something bigger than themselves. Knowing that you, as a current player or participant, are part of a lineage of individuals before you that excelled in their art or athletic activity in high school and went on to become professionals in that craft, or a completely different craft, but are very successful nonetheless, forces the current students to do things the right way, listen to their coaches and strive for excellence, just like their predecessors did. And if they do that, their aspirations of becoming successful after high school, like the alumni they emulate, will eventually come true. The important thing here is that the alumni need to be present and connect with the current program and participants, otherwise that separation will fail to be relevant for both parties.

From an alumni’s perspective, being invited back for events, to speak, or just to come out to the game or performance is a wonderful form of flattery and cultivation and will do nothing but create meaningful relationships with all who attend or simply receive that letter, phone call or email. If you think this would also help donation and fundraising efforts from your alumni, you would be absolutely correct.

Part 2 - Next week: HOW your booster club can easily cultivate, connect and build lasting relationships with alumni and their parents.

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