Retaining rugby alumni — are you using the right channels to reach them?

Front of postcard

If your rugby club is like many around the world, retaining and engaging with your alumni can be a challenge.

Many clubs reach out regularly on email or Facebook. But depending on the age of your club and it’s alumni, these channels may not be the best tool for engagement.

For example, when I joined the Milwaukee Westside Harlequins (now the Barbarians) in 2007, I inherited a list of contacts for our alumni. As the club migrated primarily to email lists we tried a few times to engage the alumni via email.

Although some people responded, the vast majority never replied. I am certain some of the the emails were outdated, especially for those folks using very old email services. But we also had a hunch that many of our alumni simply didn’t check email all that often, or were not comfortable joining a mailing list

And in addition, many of the contacts on our list didn’t even have an email address in our records.

So we tried a different approach: postcards.

As you can see above, we used an old picture of some of the existing and active alumni members of our club and put a big caption at the top to grab their attention.

On the reverse side (see below), we added an invitation for people to connect with us via our website. We also included the phone number for one our active alumni.

Rear of postcard with a link to a mailing list signup and a phone number associated with our club.

We used VistaPrint to prepare and mail the postcard for about $0.75 per person. Critically, we used their “Return To Sender” option so that undeliverable mail would come back to us. This allowed us to remove the old address from our records so we could focus on other communication channels for that person.

As a result of just a single postcard, we’ve so far connected with about 5% of our inactive members and removed addresses for another 15%.

The remaining 80% now have validated mailing addresses and are primed for a follow-up phone call, email, or letter inviting them out to a club event.

In short, remember that a quick one-off email is not likely to reach many of your older past members. Instead, use a variety of age-appropriate communication channels when trying to engage your rugby club alumni.

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