Tasked with balancing content that engages and functionality that drives donations, these alumni website examples are best in class.
By Lindsey Hency
At their core, the best alumni association websites fuel engagement, drive donations and serve as a selling point for their college or university. But achieving that desired outcome requires strategic content, seamless UX and compelling storytelling. Here are six sites to inspire your association’s next website redesign.
UC Berkeley’s Cal Alumni Association
Why it works: When Casual Astronaut was tapped to redesign the Cal Alumni Association’s website to boost alumni engagement, we leaned into what we knew to be true after years of building websites in the philanthropic space: Providing a clear and concise path to action is first and foremost.
For Cal, this meant incorporating three key conversion points into the homepage so that, as soon as users arrive, they are driven to either Join CAA, Give Back or Get Involved. To add a little heft to these calls-to-action, we tapped into the university’s reputation as one of the greatest schools in the world, reminding alumni that they are part of a truly special community. Messaging such as “Alumni are the Cal legacy. A gift in support of CAA keeps us all connected — to UC Berkeley and to each other” showcases the magnitude of alumni giving while also fostering a sense of community among former students.
The University of Kansas Alumni Association
Why it works: Compelling graduates to donate and support the university’s vision for the future is critically important for any alumni site. The University of Kansas Alumni Association site exemplifies a “show, don’t tell” approach by leaning heavily on storytelling to build connections between alumni and the campus community, reminding alumni of their gifts’ tangible results. The site’s rotating hero images place students at the center of it all, with calls to support the Jayhawk Career Network and other key programs that serve students.
The University of Notre Dame Alumni Association
Why it works: Home to one of the country’s most engaged alumni and fan bases, the Notre Dame Alumni Association offers a handful of “digital neighborhoods” where alumni can gather to pray, to learn, to network, to be inspired and to share their passions, such as traveling. These free online platforms, powered by HiveBrite, provide a distinct and valuable way for graduates to connect with their alma mater — and each other — in a highly personalized way.
Options include a distinct storytelling site that features both longform profiles of Domers doing good in the world and first-person perspectives from members of the Notre Dame family; an open online learning community featuring 1,000-plus free videos, podcasts, articles, virtual events, courses and series from faculty and industry professionals to give learners a deeper look at topics from across the University; and a digital hub for networking that features job boards, mentoring and coaching programs, industry group discussions and career resources.
The University of Arizona Alumni Association
Why it works: The University of Arizona is typically known for its athletic prowess and top-ranking business school, but former Wildcats know that the school offers an array of educational opportunities and career paths.
In our work for the University of Arizona Alumni Association, we made sure to tell the stories that reflect graduates’ lived experiences, from performing on Broadway to studying the impact of heavy metals on Indigenous communities.
We also supported the creation of the University of Arizona’s Career Lab, which help alumni make real-time connections with one another, and with current students looking for mentors. These sites help alumni feel represented and give them a tangible way to give back — not just financially, but with their time and professional talents.
Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Association
Why it works: The WashU alumni website leads with a poignant emotional appeal, highlighting how alumni are the heart of the school’s past, present and future, and utilizing people-centric images to drive that point home. Throughout the rest of the site, design features like rules connect different elements, providing a cohesive visual experience that prompts a user to continue scrolling. Call-to-action copy is specific and direct, urging alumni to “Help recruit and welcome prospective students” and “Share your time and talent with the WashU community.”
Howard University Alumni Relations
Why it works: As one of the leading historically Black colleges and universities, Howard University is well known for its STEM programs that prepare the next generation of mathematicians, engineers, physicians and scientists. With its storied location in Washington, D.C., Howard connects students with the nation’s capital and opens doors to millions of opportunities to make the world a better place. The university’s alumni website captures this emphasis well, fostering alumni engagement through a focus on events, community — and the strategic placement of some famous faces, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who can be spotted in the alumni photo gallery.