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Blog > Building Your Community > Five Ways to Engage your Alumni Community During COVID-19

Five Ways to Engage your Alumni Community During COVID-19

COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected people, jobs and industries everywhere. Traditional methods of communication, events, and engagement can no longer be performed in parts of the world due to social distancing. However, that doesn’t mean they have to stop altogether. Many schools and organizations have turned to the online world in order to keep connected to their communities and to keep planned events on the calendar. Below are five ways to keep your alumni communities engaged during COVID-19.
 
1. Go Traditional with Letters
In a period when many of us are social distancing, why not break up all the online communication with some tangible letters! Here’s how it can work:
  1. On your Alumni site, use your software to create a group for those who are interested in receiving letters. 
  2. Ask members to list topics they are interested in writing about. These can be recipes, fitness routines, career advice, favourite books, etc. 
  3. Have members introduce themselves to a member they are interested in learning from. 
  4. A member will receive a request (via email) from another member and can then choose to respond with their postal address - and the writing begins!


 
2. Virtual Reunion Events
Have your events been canceled due to COVID-19? If this is the case, you can still create an online community where you can host pub quizzes and virtual coffee meetups to stay connected. If a school reunion was due for the year, you can still create a portal where people can share posts and photos. That way old classmates can still catch up with one another.
 

 
 
3. Online Auction
Many spring auctions have been cancelled but that does not mean you can’t move them online. One school who has been doing this particularly well is St. James School. Eleanor, Development Officer of SJS, explains how they have moved their art event online:
 
“Every year we put on an Art Sale, exhibiting and selling artwork by Sixth Form artists, alumni artists and other friends of the school. We take 25% commission all of which goes towards the Sixth Form Ball. When the Art Sale had to be cancelled this year due to COVID-19 we decided to move it online and the shop function on our Toucan Tech site worked really well for that. We hadn’t used the shop function before but with some help from the team, we got the Art Sale up and running. We put up photos of the artwork with information and prices, and parents, alumni and members of the public were able to pay via PayPal. In the current situation, it has felt particularly good to be able to support the alumni artists and whilst the 6th Form Ball has been cancelled the money will be spent on a reunion event before they all head off to university in September. We were unsure as to whether anyone would want to buy art in these uncertain times but it has been very successful and a really nice way for the St James Community to support each other.” -Eleanor, Development Officer, St James School.
 

4. Stay Engaged Forum
Create a new discussion forum for people to share ideas and chat. In fact, if you’re interested in joining one, check out the AROPS forum for alumni officials to share ideas here: https://arops.org.uk/homepage/forum.
 
"Although schools are under huge financial pressure, this is the time to show alumni how much you value and support them. We produced the #StayEngaged Guide and Members Forum. and opened up our #AROPS LinkedIn page, and Facebook page @SchoolsAlumniUK to all schools to share best practice, creative ideas, and innovative solutions to staying engaged while working remotely." - Jane, AROPS


5. Social Distancing News Series
Now that many social activities are cancelled, some people may find themselves with more time on their hands. This is the perfect time to share new blog posts or create news series to keep your community engaged and informed! Lady Eleanor Holles School (LEH) has recently started an alumni news series on the 'Joy of Staying In'. Alumnae Communications Officer of LEH, Susanna Frayn, talks about the impact it has made on the alumni community: 
 
"If these challenging times have taught us anything, it is about the power and importance of community. We’re thankful that our ToucanTech community site, Holles Connect, has enabled us to look for ways to add value for our members and seek out solutions to bolster community spirit. We’ve had a great response to our ‘Joy of Staying In’ articles, which have prompted some alumnae to offer online services to benefit others. They have demonstrated LEH’s cherished attributes of resilience, courage and kindness and, as always, we are proud and ever grateful.” - Susanna Frayn, LEH
 
 

And over at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, they have started sharing thought pieces from students. It's a great way to let your final year students relate and talk about their feelings of leaving school early and moving to online learning.
  

ABOUT TOUCANTECH: 
ToucanTech is a community database software for schools and companies to manage their alumni, marketing, development and careers activities. Learn how you can use ToucanTech software to engage your community online by requesting a demo here. 
 

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