Schools are debating between hosting a virtual reunion this year or just postponing their in-person reunions until next year. Here’s what’s at risk if you postpone till next year without including a virtual reunion this year:
There is no guarantee what next year will bring. There are so many unknowns swirling around possible vaccines, immunity, testing, and depth and duration of the economic fallout. Even if large gatherings are permitted, alumni may still be reluctant to attend or travel. And sadly, not all alumni will still be with us next year. A virtual reunion will give you and your alumni certainty, a feeling that is quite elusive right now, and something that alumni, who are hungry for connection, can look forward to this year.
Your reunion classes ending in 0 and 5 know that 2020 is their reunion year, not 2021. There’s an intrinsic rhythm to a reunion schedule that is set by time, past and future. Postponement throws the internal reunion clock off-kilter. Not all alumni in classes ending in 0 and 5 will want to celebrate in 2021, resulting in a smaller turnout, and you don’t know whether a 2021 reunion will negatively impact turnout for your 2025 reunion. By providing a virtual reunion this year, you will have the opportunity to capture all your alumni and acknowledge their actual reunion year.
If you postpone your reunion to next year without holding a virtual reunion this year, you will lose a valuable touchpoint with your alumni and the opportunity to reap its benefits, such as reunion gifts in the door this year and valuable job and networking opportunities for your current students facing an uncertain job market.
How do I know? I am working with a Class of 1970 undergraduate committee that wanted to postpone its 50th reunion until it is safe to gather again, “in 2021 or 2022 or whenever.” We said that there could be an in-person reunion when life settles down, but their school doesn’t want this year to go by without celebrating their milestone reunion. We proposed a virtual reunion. They loved the idea! They began to spontaneously suggest ideas for programming and even a class gift. They were so appreciative of the chance to get together virtually. Had we just accepted their strong desire to postpone, the call would have ended on a very down note, leaving these engaged alumni disappointed and unengaged. Instead, all were enthusiastic and looking forward to reconnecting with their classmates this year and even working on a class gift!