4 Ways to Engage Diverse Alumni

Your alumni come from every walk of life. 12-15% of current college students identify as LGBTQ, and 37% are non-white racial minorities. These differences only scrape the surface of diversity on college campuses today, but an increasingly varied set of identities and interests for college students mean that your alumni are rapidly becoming more diverse than ever. In order to continuously engage diverse alumni, it is important to appeal to their affinities.  Here are 4 ideas on how to connect.

1.     Diversity Channel Newsletters

Through an engagement portal or a sidebar in your existing development newsletter, you can provide a centralized space where alumni can decide to subscribe to specific supplementary newsletters. For example, if I am a Jewish alum, I may be interested in the Jewish Alumni Newsletter. This could be a quarterly or semi-annual engagement channel that compiles blogs, relevant news, student blurbs, and throwback photos. Some possible diversity newsletters include Race Relations (can further segment into Black Alumni, Asian/Pacific Islander Alumni, Hispanic/Latin@ Alumni, and Native American Alumni), LGBTQ Alumni, Women’s Empowerment List, Alumni in Nonprofits, Religious Affinity List, etc. Whatever supplementary lists you decide to create, if alumni specifically elect to receive targeted engagement, they will be more likely to open and click through relevant emails.

2.     Affinity Event Takeovers

Work with local alumni chapters to identify relevant diversity events in local areas. For example, if you have a lot of alumni in San Francisco, it may have made sense to think about sponsoring a university mixer connected to the Lesbians Who Tech conference. If order to increase attendance at these adjacent events, you can publicize on localized alumni email lists, affinity specific lists, and your alumni events portal / app. It is important that the right people see these event takeovers, without necessarily publicizing excessively to groups outside the target audience. Many of these events exist – religious conferences, open forums on Black liberation, Latin@ professional meetups, and more. Building on top of local events can be an easy way to connect with diverse alumni without taking on massive event planning expenditures.

3.     Targeted Meetup Groups

Whether specific diversity events are going on in local areas or not, it is easy to plan meet-ups that invite alums to come to a drinks or brunch event to connect with others over an affinity topic. For example, you could host a Young Black Alumni event every year in your major alumni geographic congregations, or could deliberately host diversity meet-ups at your on campus reunions that allow for alumni of different groups to meet. You could host assorted Affinity Hours that provide light drinks and snacks. It’s easy to host LGBTQ, race, religious, ethnic, or other diversity related gathering points alongside mixers that may cater to more generalized professional / class year crowds.

4.     Diversity Call-a-Thon

One easy way to get alums engaged is to have alums sign up for a “call-a-thon” to welcome admitted students. On your call-a-thon signup form, you can allow alumni to check identity related boxes to connect with admitted students from marginalized backgrounds. Since things like race, financial background, parent educational level, and extracurricular interests are indicated on the applications of incoming students, you can ask alumni to check boxes that represent their own experiences or interests – things like LGBTQ, Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American, First Generation, or Low Income could be included alongside fields of academic or extracurricular interest. That way, alumni can be sure that they are calling to congratulate people of shared background / interest on their admission. Admitted students get a value add of being welcomed to your university community by an alum who can serve as a role model, and alums will happily partake in furthering diversity related outreach.

By providing channels of connection for diverse alumni, you open up the door to deep engagement across a breadth of backgrounds. If you want to chat about how diverse engagement can work for you, we’re always here.


Rachael Stein