should be the number one objective and goal for your web development team.
Interesting, compelling and depth of content will fuel the growth in web
site traffic and will end up promoting the ongoing use and revisiting of
constituents to the site.
To a great extent your web site content will also reflect the depth and
offerings of alumni and friends programs in general. Your web site will help
to enhance the marketing of these programs and benefits.
Effective use of these ideas will also depend on your constituents, staff resources, technical ability, management
acceptance, budget, and other considerations.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some content may have a much
greater life than that of a traditional print piece. If you set up a photo
gallery for example, this content can be more or less permanent and provide
a place for visitors to return to for many years.
Here are some content ideas, gleaned from visiting thousands of alumni and
advancement web sites:
- Subscribe with e-mail address to a list to receive site updates, weekly
electronic newsletter, copy of on-line magazine.
- Address update forms some with contests, some with an
automatic reward for filling out and submitting, look up your own address information
using a direct tie to the alumni database and password login so you can
correct and update your own information.
Many forms designed to collect additional information such as class year, degrees, spouse
information, salutation, nickname, employment, additional comments.
Sample forms and some hints on
how to make
your forms effective.
- Alumni College – weekend reunion program with a number of
courses presented by school faculty.
Other continuing education opportunities such as class auditing. Some also tied in to a
university lecture series. Combination of registration on the web, and
some sites offering web based learning.
- Alumni house tours, and Campus photo tours.
Particularly good if updated regularly and if there is a section for
current campus photos. i.e. Photos right after a snow storm.
- Alumni house fund raising projects such as bricks campaign.
Some with a searchable database where you can actually view a picture of
your own brick.
- Alumni house on-line form for booking rooms for events. Cost
and setup information. List of approved caterers. Costs for different services.
- Alumni house history, alumni association
history and school histories.
- Alumni in residence program – Alumni with specific expertise
stay on campus for a 2 to 4 day period to advise current students.
Alumni mentoring programs that also involve collecting of alumni volunteers with expertise,
- Alumni that make a difference with pictures and stories.
Notable alumni, famous alumni. Detailed alumni profiles.
- Anniversary celebrations both for Alumni Associations and
Schools. Some include photos, video clips and songs.
- Art Exhibition by Alumni (on-line) – Good for art and design
schools or those that have a strong arts program. Lists of where alumni would be
displaying art. Design a home page and have a link to it from the main alumni
association page as part of an art design course.
- Athletic Alumni Hall of Fame – Good tie to athletes.
Athletics can often be very separated from Alumni activities or marketed jointly with
them. i.e. tailgates, skybox seating.
- Awards for distinguished alumni and friends with on-line
award nomination forms, and awards criteria. Pictures and bios of recipients.
Past award winners. Lists of award winners generated directly from the
- Bed and breakfast guides – good information for those
attending 1 day events, golf tournaments and other such activities.
- Bibs for new babies of alumni – fill in an on-line form and
a bib will be sent to you.
- Board listings, some with pictures and bios.
- Book club – interesting use of an on-line email discussion
group with the topic of books. Other book club ideas may include faculty reading
lists, faculty authors. Can link directly to on-line book vendors to
promote sales of books by constituents.
- Campaign summaries, directions, accounts you can give to,
progress reports. Some progress reports with graphs and statistics. Reunion giving by
class. Membership by class. Endowment listings, naming opportunities.
- Career services and employment. Many with links to the
Institution’s main career development office. Links to www job finding and resume posting
services. Jobs available on campus, and within individual Association or Development
offices. Internship programs. Resume posting. Candidates listings.
- Cemetery – only saw one of these. You could actually buy a
plot and be buried on campus.
- Chapter and club listings, some with clickable maps, many
with their own chapter or club home pages, chapter profile and officer update forms, outstanding
chapter and club awards. Getting chapters or constituent organizations to build their own
pages is a great way of adding additional site content and building traffic.
Chapter how to manuals. On-line chapter report or event information
- Chat rooms. A few sites with scheduled times for chats with
specific individuals such as the institutional president. Different topic rooms.
Chat use has flattened out over the last few years, and unless a site has
a very high volume, chat rooms may no longer be as appealing except
possibly in special cases such as where a president chat is set up at a
- Class Audit Programs – benefit for alumni to be able to
audit a class for minimal or no cost.
- Classified advertising provided as a service, or as part of
an on-line community.
- Class gift programs – participation as an emphasis,
statistics on how classes compared.
- Class notes – many online forms to update class note
information. Class notes listing sorted by year. Some online forms also asked for a topic,
and class notes were presented by topic. i.e. Job Change. Searchable class notes. Class
notes separated into national and international. Class notes tied
directly into database.
- Commencement. Photos, commencement professions. On-line
commencement survey. Parent information for commencement. Commencement timetable and
commencement events. Commencement speeches in streaming audio and/or
- Connections – Alumni to students. Networking opportunities.
Businesses with internship opportunities.
- Cookbook, cookouts, tailgates – Bring alumni back to campus
to cook and eat. Cooking contests.
- Databases utilized to provide dynamic content to web pages,
or to allow looking up individual information. Prevalent in on-line communities, most of
which require registration in order to utilize the lookup features.
- Deer hunting. Get together with a group of
alums and hunt for deer. Only saw one of these.
- Distinguished Alumni listings with pictures and biographies,
- Donors making prominent or trend setting gifts.
- Donor honor rolls with giving levels and gift clubs.
- Elections – on-line ballot for electing alumni board
- E-mail directories with web page addresses, including
on-line addition and modification of information. Some searchable by a variety of
parameters. Some require registration. On-line e-mail information submission form with
specific permission check box. Some required the filling of of a form with specific
signature permission form, and the form to be sent back before an e-mail address could be
- Events calendars – some searchable, and some with the
ability to add events, events on-line registration, events on-line survey to find out what
people thought of events they attended, and to get optimal times, days, and other
information for future event planning. R.S.V.P. forms for events.
- Experts – alumni submit on-line form listing their area of
expertise or interest, so that others may contact them. Experts
networking with students.
- Faculty reading list for alumni – good link to faculty who
have had books published. Lists of faculty authors.
- Faculty staff campaigns, donors, participation percentages.
On-line payroll deduction authorization forms.
- Family weekends. Prospective students bring parents to
campus. Some with on-line registration form, and information request form.
- Famous alumni, notable alumni, famous graduates.
- Fellowships – information on special fellowships available
- Frequently asked question pages on benefits, giving, what
are Alumni, membership. FAQ on school questions. "How to" FAQ i.e. how to join,
how to give.
- Gift certificates for the school bookstore, or for alumni
- Giving – gift types, how to give, on-line pledge and gift
commitment forms, what to give to, how gifts had made a difference, projects being worked
on, gift committees.
- Golf tournaments – on-line registration, pictures, scores.
- Graduate handbook, parents handbook, and other sets of
information designed to help you on campus, and post graduation.
- Guest Books – many themes, bulletin boards, discussion webs.
Multiple theme guest book with entries classified by entry type.
Searchable guest books.
- History pages for both Alumni and schools, PowerPoint
presentation of history for both school and association, one very good tie in with history
was an oral history of the institution with anecdotes contributed by alumni with links to
their pictures and biographies.
- Hospitality information, hotels, restaurants, dining on
campus, and community information.
- Hot links for Alumni i.e. sports, other areas of interest.
- Hot Dog Day (A 25 year tradition!)
- Institution’s President’s home page, or President’s office
page. Trivia questions on the presidents. Past school presidents with
bios and history. President feedback form.
- International Alumni directory sorted by language and
country. Many of our institutions are multi-cultural and this serves as a good reminder to
collect language and citizenship information. Some web sites presented in multiple
- Internet Services – e-mail directories and lists, listservs,
dial in access and home page provision, low cost internet access as an Alumni benefit.
E-mail forwarding. With so many ISP’s now competing for the same
business this may no longer be as viable a benefit as it once was.
- Junior qualifying exam – a recreation of a 1964 junior
- Legislative advocacy – On-line survey for legislative
advocacy to help raise awareness of institutions and education issues to government,
on-line forms to volunteer as a legislative advocate.
- Links – general links of interest, community. Theme related
links, i.e. if a school specialized in some field, related links were there. Links to www
people finding services to help Alumni keep in touch.
- Listserv for Alumni so they can join e-mail discussion
groups. Many institutions with multiple listservs covering specific topics.
- Location, maps and directions, links to www sites that
generate maps and directions. Clickable location maps. Parking information since this is
often confusing on many campuses it’s nice to have the information available in advance.
- Lost Alumni listings by alpha or by class year – so you can
find out if you’re lost. Ability to look up and see specifically if you’re
lost with direct tie to database.
- Magazines on-line, back issues, sample articles, ability to
subscribe to receive an on-line version of the magazine as opposed to a mailed copy,
e-mail newsletters, on-line student magazines.
- Magazines – how to advertise in, policies on advertising,
meet the magazine staff, advertising rates. Letter to the editor form.
Submit a news story or idea for a news story form.
- Mascots, pictures of dogs, tigers, and even a banana slug.
Mascot animations, graphics, and other mascot information tied throughout pages.
- Membership benefits, on-line membership application forms.
Some with secure credit card transaction forms.
- Memoriam pages with obituaries, lists of in-memory, lists of
gifts made in memory of.
- Merchandise – pictures, prices, descriptions, on-line
ordering forms. Some with secure credit card transactions, and shopping cart technology.
- Messages and welcomes from both the institution’s president,
directors, vice presidents and others. Some with on-line feedback forms.
- Message boards in the format of a bulletin board.
- Minority alumni network, minority clubs and chapters.
- Minutes of meetings, by-laws and
constitution. Usually not that interesting for external visitors.
- Movie reviews on one site.
- News releases – Current campus events, news releases on
staff, news releases on prominent alumni. News of large gifts.
- News with births, deaths, marriages, engagements, class
- Night out at the pops – Alumni events at the symphony or
opera. Some with box seating. Nice tie in with a music department or school. Night at the
opera in another city.
- Notable alumni sorted by category i.e. politics, industry,
faculty and others.
- Officer nomination forms for board.
- On-line communities. They are feature rich, particularly in
interactive types of activities, and provide varying degrees of database access.
These should be branded as indistinguishable from the main alumni site.
- Organization charts – staff, volunteers, board. Campaign
volunteer organization charts.
- Parents – Parent information, parent campaigns. Parent’s
handbooks. Separate parent’s web pages and in some cases web sites. Parent’s council.
Parents newsletters and listservs.
- Photo Galleries, current and historical pictures. Add your
own pictures and photo captions forms.
- Planned giving pages, some with on-line planned giving
newsletters, on-line information request form. Tax policy and gift examples. Terminology
glossary. Planned gift stories. Links to IRS forms and policy pages.
- Policies and procedures – gift policies and procedures,
board policies and procedures, commonly used forms, chapter policies procedures and
- Portraits of distinguished faculty – nomination for the
teacher that most affected your life. The faculty member with the most nominations would
have a portrait done, which would be hung in a prominent location.
Faculty gram – send a message to your favorite faculty staff or
- Post cards – send an electronic post card to another Alum.
(Creates a HTML file which you go back to the Alumni web site to pick up.
- President’s Reflections – periodic writings by the
university president reflecting on life and work within the institutions. Many sites also
have a message from their president or chancellor, and the ability to send a message to a
- Psychological counseling – at a reduced rate at the school
clinic – Alumni benefit.
- Quizzes, some with prizes some without. Teasers and trivia.
Word search and other games. Pictures of campus where visitor has to guess where the
location is. Pictures of notable alumni where visitor can guess who they are.
Hangman with institution specific words (may not be the most appropriate
- Reunion weekends, reunion class listings with photos, events
calendars, who was likely and not likely to attend, on-line reunion surveys to collect
information on current, past, and future reunions, on-line reunion registration.
Virtual reunion weekend using web cams so those not attending the reunion could look up
and see on the web site.
Reunion listing separated by living and deceased so prospective attendees can see who is
still living in their class years.
Special reunion web pages with a wide variety of reunion information.
- Reunion testimonials from people that attended previous
reunions and photographs of past reunion weekends.
- Scholarships – purposes, how to give to, honored recipients.
Scholarships for children of alumni. On-line scholarship application forms.
- School songs and band tunes – both words, and in some cases
- Screensavers for downloading. Wallpaper,
and computer desktop icons.
- Senior alumni awards, senior’s programs.
- Server statistics for web servers, technical environments,
lists of pages hit, current web site users.
- Sharing knowledge programs – list of Alumni specialists
students can contact.
- Site maps – useful navigation aid for displaying indexes of
some of the larger more comprehensive sites.
- Sounds of campus, songs, band, football games. If you have a
sound load on your page don’t have it keep looping automatically.
- Send a message to the President (of the institution), the
- Senior class gift with tributes to some of the senior class
- Speaker’s bureau – Speaker’s pictures, biographies, dates,
and costs for attending.
- Sports scores, and links to sports information. Some
RealAudio sports broadcasts.
- Staff listings, some with pictures, homepages for each
staff, clickable e-mail addresses, some with brief point outlines of what they do in
addition to their job titles. Some with brief bios. Staff contacts by
area of responsibility.
- Statistics on Alumni – by state, by sex, proximity to a
chapter, by country. Male/female by class, number of known addresses by class.
Clickable demographics maps.
- Student Alumni association – a subset of Alumni used to
involve students from the start. Some with student alumni pages.
- Student – host a student at your home while they are
- Student recruitment – link to registration, on-line forms to
submit information on a potential student.
- Surveys – web surveys, alumni surveys about the school
experience, volunteer skill surveys, event surveys, graduating student surveys, surveys
about benefits and other services provided by the alumni association. Comprehensive alumni
- Tailgate recipe contest. Tailgate pictures.
- Testimonials – about the experiences alumni had while at the
school. Get board members to write a short paragraph or two. Make this a tradition of
board membership. Stories from famous or notable alumni.
- Tickets for athletic events. Discount tickets as part of a
membership benefit. Tickets as prizes for filling in a survey or updating address
- Top 50 Alumni to Watch – Bios with pictures on the top 50
alumni who are the shakers and movers. This might be a high maintenance item, but connects
you to the best graduates, and helps to publicize success. What happens
when someone falls off the list?
- Transcript ordering and requests – good tie for people back
to association. Transcript ordering instructions. Some associations provide free
transcripts as a membership benefit.
- Travel programs – some with links to country pages where the
trips would be going, lists of those already signed up.
- Treasurer’s report – good for showing how budgets were
applied. Annual reports with financial statistics.
- Trivia – trivia listings for schools, or for associations.
Trivia question of the week, month, etc.
- Tuition raffle, low cost tuition or discounts for tuition as
- Vanity e-mail. Lifetime e-mail forwarding. Often an on-line
- Video and animation. Some custom designed
Use with care. Gets tiresome if you access the site a lot and this has
to run before you access
the first page.
- Volunteer skills inventories, community service programs.
On-line volunteering forms. On-line volunteer experience survey. i.e. how the volunteer
perceived that their experience was. Lists of notable volunteers, and volunteer stories.
- Web sightings – home pages of alumni where the home page has
personal business information, or information on the area of expertise.
- Weddings – usually in alumni houses or on campus, some had
on-line form to send for more information, or confirm an available date.
- What’s new, feature of the week – for web sites, for campus,
and for associations.
- Women in business. Women in philanthropy
and as philanthropic partners.
- Yearbooks on-line. Scanned yearbooks, and
- Young Alumni pages – Giving clubs, activities and events,
young alumni roommate network – find a roommate by filling in an on-line form.