Celebrating a 50th Reunion: How UPenn helped the Class of 1973 reunite

October 2023 — By BrightCrowd

The University of Pennsylvania, located in the center of Philadelphia, is one of the country’s eight Ivy League schools. The university’s top-notch academic programs and research opportunities attract a diverse student body that consists of 23,559 undergraduate and graduate students making it one of the largest Ivy Leagues schools. As a result UPenn counts almost 300,000 living alumni.

With such an expansive network, keeping alumni engaged for decades after graduation can be challenging. Maintaining accurate contact information and encouraging participation in alumni events often requires extensive resources. So, how has the school worked to accomplish this in a unique and cost-effective manner?

The Penn Alumni Association turned to BrightCrowd to help improve engagement and participation of alumni celebrating milestone reunions.

How Technology Helped Foster Alumni Engagement

The alumni association found that communication with its alumni and connections among former classmates needed improvement. Traditional marketing tactics weren’t significantly moving the needle when promoting upcoming events. Rather than sticking to their current engagement methods, the school began to build a digital community outside the realm of targeted emails and Facebook groups and to do this they introduced BrightCrowd!

After witnessing the positive impact that BrightCrowd had on other UPenn organizations and affinity groups, the university chose to incorporate BrightCrowd into the Class of 1973’s 50th class reunion. Understanding the importance of this milestone, the university wanted to ensure that the event garnered significant attention from college alumni. Not only was this alumni event an excellent opportunity for the school to secure donations, but it marked one of the last “large-scale” events that many individuals are notably willing to attend.

Given the simplicity of BrightCrowd’s digital book, the University of Pennsylvania was easily able to set up and distribute the book to the members of the class. Although outdated contact information prevented the school from reaching out to all alumni, the book’s popularity had individuals contacting the university themselves to gain access to the book. Through the power of word-of-mouth, more participants created profiles—more alumni were able to reacquaint themselves with one another. Thus, a solid digital community was born!

The Impact of Brightcrowd’s Digital Community

The university's use of BrightCrowd's digital book was integral to its marketing and promotional strategy. Not only did the book bring classmates together and give them a chance to reminisce about their years at the University of Pennsylvania, but it helped create a sense of excitement about the upcoming 50th class reunion—it gave a sneak peek into what to expect at their alumni gathering.

In addition to the traditional questions often included in questionnaires and other reunion materials, the school sought more personalized alumni information. Topics of discussion included:

  • What songs and music immediately take you back to your time at Penn?
  • What are your most rewarding accomplishments or experiences since you left Penn?
  • If you could change anything you did at Penn, what would it be?

Using the digital book was an excellent way for graduates to learn about their peers and stimulate interest in personally reconnecting in a meaningful manner. The school received positive reassurance of its efforts, with nearly 500 participants filling out their unique pages.

Turnout at the Class of 1973’s 50th class reunion exceeded the university’s expectations. With a higher attendance rate than that of the 45th class reunion, the school believes that the success is largely due to the digital book. As a complementary marketing effort, BrightCrowd helped the University of Pennsylvania boost attendance and enhance alumni engagement.

Contact BrightCrowd today to learn how digital books can help you promote alumni engagement at your next class reunion.