While it is totally understandable and commonplace for someone to have strong alumni passion for his or her university or high school, it is more unusual for a person to get fired up over a former elementary school. I mean, nobody is out spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on season tickets to a fourth grade intramural basketball game. And although I can’t prove it has never happened, I highly doubt people from one end of this country are purchasing clothing apparel from an elementary school on the other end. Does that mean, however, that elementary schools shouldn’t consider developing a proud alumni tradition within their own community? Of course not! For all of the reasons that alumni are important to high schools and colleges, they can be a vital part of fundraising, student recruitment, and organizational leadership at lower level schools, as well. I would argue that an elementary school that is not out actively recruiting alumni help is missing a fantastic opportunity.
In order to keep in touch with people as they grow older and move on from your elementary school, it is important to maintain accurate and current mailing addresses and email addresses, as well. If this has not been done at your school, start now to develop a database for your current students. It may be a big undertaking, but it would also be wise to 화상영어 go back through past student records and match them with current high school students. This way, you have a jump on those kids who will be the next generation to go out into the “real world”.
Since the Internet has become such a regular part of people’s lives, a website is the perfect medium to communicate with far-flung alumni. If you do not already have at least one page on your site devoted to alumni news and relations, you should create one right away. You can scan and post old pictures and maybe even do a “Can you name this person? ” contest. Use this site to announce upcoming events or important school news items, such as a community service project or excellent school test scores. This keeps alumni, even if they live in another part of the country in the loop, so to speak.
A printed newsletter shares the same objective as a page on your school website, but it is perhaps a little more formal and is for folks who do not visit you on the web. With the printed newsletter, you can also insert a returnable donation envelope. I would suggest coming up with an established name for your alumni news publication (more than just “The Alumni Newsletter”). By branding your website and newsletter, you are becoming more memorable to your potential alumni audience.
As with any fundraising effort, you need to pick the right place and time. It is wise to remember that an elementary school is probably going to fall lower on a person’s giving priority list than their university or church. The best approach with alumni is to appeal to their sense of nostalgia, the future promise for their children at the same school, and then simply present the need. Just lay it out there for them. If you push too much, you will possibly sever any sense of connection they had. If you play it right, however, you’ll get their brains and their hearts going at the same time, and they find a way to help the school.
In any important effort, it is smart to develop a group of people that is committed to leading it and growing it. As a school fundraising leader or administrator, you may be called upon to get this group going, but you should not be responsible for the long-term health of the group. Once you have a few solid members on the alumni committee, discuss the group’s mission and strategy and then get out of their way. Let them take the ownership.
If your school has any sort of intramural team or even something as simple as track and field day, I suggest that you keep accurate records and post them. Alumni love to come back and see if their records are still standing. Nothing does more for someone’s ego than learning nobody has been able to beat their record in twenty years!
Elementary school yearbooks can easily be lost over the years. Make sure you keep a few copies in your library from each year, going as far back as you can. Let the alumni who visit your school know that you have them on file to look at if they wish. Flipping through those pages could really spark a trip down memory lane and that could get them to make a donation. You never know…
If you don’t do this already, consider creating an annual student award based on citizenship or school spirit or both. Give the winners a trophy, but also engrave their names on a perpetual plaque that will be displayed in your main hallway for years. An award like this gives your school an instant tradition and something to proudly show off to a child of a former student. “Hey son, look at this. I won this award way back in 2008! ”
If your school has an annual auction or other large gathering, consider using the opportunity to honor a group of alumni or a class from 20 years ago. You could make a photo slideshow and display it during dinner time, for instance. Anyway that you can throw a spotlight on former students, the greater the message you send to current students: We Remember You!
Nothing draws a student back to an elementary school like a favorite old teacher. I know I can still name every single teacher I had from pre-school until 6 grade- and I’m almost 40! If there is a teacher at your school who is retiring after many years of service, consider throwing a huge community-wide blow-out party and inviting any person whoever sat in her class to attend. Tell them to be ready to share stories!
This kind of event could really draw alumni out, who might never have otherwise gotten involved. Advertise this event well ahead of time in the local paper and on local television and radio. Put up fliers everywhere. And, make sure to ask the media to cover the event as a “feel-good piece”. All this exposure is only going to help your school in the long run to get more alumni involved.
Another great way to get alumni involved is to recruit their children. If you have alumni living in your geographical area, be sure to make a strong advertising pitch for their young children. Mention how well the students are prepared academically at your school. Tell them about outstanding test scores and individual success stories. Let them know that the school in their dusty memories hasn’t stopped growing and striving for success. Show them computer labs and any other technological advances the school has made. Lastly, really sell them on the value of family tradition. This can be a strong pull in young parents. Remember, their kids have to go to school somewhere- you have a built in advantage with alumni kids!
Remember the theme song to the television show “Cheers”? The chorus was, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came”. This is a strong pull for human beings- a sense of belonging. If you want to grow your alumni presence at your school, make it a place where they are welcome and remembered. Find old photographs, school newspapers, any kind of memorabilia imaginable and put them on prominent display. If an alumnus walks into your school for the first time in 30 years, and he finds a picture of himself up on a hallway wall, he will feel connected and rooted there. You are much more likely to gain a strong friend this way than by making a verbal or written appeal for money to him.
This may be a small item, but it is wise to have a selection of school merchandise available in adult sizes, not only for the parents of current students, but also for alumni. It might even be beneficial to have a few sweatshirts or hats made up with the word “alumni” on it. Have them on display in the school office or at any public event you have. You can also put them up for sale on your school website. It is proven that people use these kinds of items to express their passion and loyalty. You should jump on that bandwagon!
Not too long ago, a Catholic school near my home completed a new addition. As a fundraiser, they widely advertised that they would be selling the naming rights for each classroom. My wife’s parents and all her aunts and uncles attended that school when they were children. About ten of them or so went in together and bought the right to name a classroom after their mother. It was a beautiful tribute. This can be done even without the expense of doing a major addition to the school. Your school can open up the naming rights to just about anything you want to!
This applies only to private schools with tuition, but a great way to get alumni to donate is to create and then advertise an alumni scholarship drive. For just a few dollars, alumni can make sure that any child who wants to attend the school, regardless of economic status, will have the chance. Gifts can be made in the name of a family member, a corporation, or anonymously. Regardless of how the gift is presented, it does give the alumnus a sense of true inclusion in the on-going development of the school.
When trying to raise money for a school, you need to look at every single avenue of support. Far too often, the alumni option is overlooked by elementary schools, because it has been so long since they attended it. However, for the many reasons stated above, I strongly argue that every school should be actively pursuing each and every person who ever passed through their doors. I know this is a big project, but definitely one that will pay great rewards.