5 Events Your Alumni Will Love

Events are a critical component of alumni engagement. Event attendees are 120% more likely to have donated in the past year. But over time, programming can feel a little stale. Here’s 5 ideas to help mix it up:

1.     Young Alumni Bar Mixer

Hosting events on campus can be great, but many young alumni who stick around the local area want other ways to engage with other recent grads. Rotate on campus alumni events with takeovers of top local bars. Choosing exciting locations will draw in young alumni and keep people excited about event attendance. You can sponsor drink tickets or food platters to further incentivize participation. Be sure to have development representatives there to help stir the crowd and talk about low cost ways that young alumni can support initiatives. The goal is encouraging durable participation.

2.    Startup Expo

Without doubt, your alums are out in the world doing big and exciting things. Though many campuses have job fairs and employer events that sometimes feature alums, it is often cost prohibitive for alumni involved with startups or small companies to participate. Consider hosting a startup fair where alumni are invited to represent their small business or startup at no cost to them. This could take the form of a free job fair for students, a panel that current students and alums are invited to attend, or a mixer with an open bar for alumni representatives and current seniors. And it’s no small prospect research benefit to, in this way, find out who is working on and founding startups. These could be your next major donors in 24-60 months.

3.    Alumni Speaker Series

One way to engage alumni is to identify specific alums excelling in their fields and tap them for speaker events. Whether these events are on campus and aimed at current students, or are held in a speaker series at reunions or meetups, honoring alums with speaking opportunities will help to both create community and rally alumni around common causes.

4.    Festival Takeover

If your campus is located near a city, identify major festivals that happen in the area. Maybe there is a big annual music festival, or a wine tasting weekend that draws thousands of outside visitors. Contact the festival organizers to see if you could purchase a tent and maybe even get discounted passes for your alumni. By investing in a fun event beyond run of the mill reunions, alumni can feel excited about returning to the campus area and meeting fellow affiliates. This is no different than having an active Facebook page. You want to be and complement where your alumni are.

5.     Affinity Meetups

Mixers based on class year or geography alone can be boring. If you identify the major cities where your alumni live – likely around the university and in major urban centers around the country – you can host meetups related to specific alumni affinities. Perhaps a semiannual event for LGBT identified alumni in New York, or a monthly film screening for alumni in the entertainment field in Los Angeles. If you understand where your alums live and what their interests are, it is easy to build up events from there.


Planning events is easier said than done. If you want help identifying what your alumni have in common in a geography, publicizing specific invites to the right alums, managing event logistics, and converting event attendance to fundraising, QuadWrangle can help.

Rachael Stein