Punahou’s Online Engagement Platform Galvanizes Vast Alumni Network, Gains National Recognition

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, alumni offices are constantly seeking innovative ways to foster connections and maintain relationships with their alumni. Email inboxes are overflowing, schedules are full and time is limited, so cutting through the clutter to make a meaningful impact can be difficult.

For Punahou’s alumni office, one of the answers has been Ka ‘Ohana Punahou, an online directory and alumni engagement platform, which the Alumni Relations Office introduced in spring 2023. Since the platform launched, an average of 7,000 alumni have used the site each month – that’s about one-third of the alumni that Punahou has contact information for. About 70% of contactable alumni have visited or viewed content from the site, and there have been more than 30,000 views on alumni profiles in the directory.

The platform’s success has garnered attention beyond the walls of the School, recently being recognized at the CASE/NAIS conference in Austin, Texas, a gathering of advancement professionals working for independent schools. Members of Punahou’s alumni relations team were invited to share a presentation about Ka ‘Ohana Punahou to peers at independent schools across the country.

Ka ‘Ohana Punahou, found online at ohana.punahou.edu, includes a directory of all living alumni – defined as anyone who attended Punahou for at least one semester – that includes their home city and state, Punahou Class year, and an option for private one-on-one messaging. The site requires a login, which verifies users as alumni of Punahou. Ka ‘Ohana Punahou includes private Class spaces, which can only be viewed by verified alumni in the cohort, as well as message boards for Punahou Alumni Association regional chapters, a job board, business directory and buy/sell/trade page. The annual Punahou Alumni Holiday Gift Guide was also hosted on Ka ‘Ohana Punahou.

“This digital initiative not only reflects the School’s commitment to staying connected with its alumni, but also serves as a testament to the power of technology in building and preserving a sense of ‘ohana among a community that is spread across the world,” said Director of Alumni Relations Doug Rigg ’84. “Ka ‘Ohana Punahou is a user-friendly platform that is accessible to alumni from all generations of classes.”

There are plenty of examples in which the platform has gained traction and is being leveraged for various alumni efforts. For instance, the Class of 1969, celebrating its 55th Reunion in 2024, has adopted Ka ‘Ohana Punahou as a way to stay in touch with classmates and provide regular updates on Reunion planning. A small, but enthusiastic team of committee members living in Hawai‘i and the continental U.S. helps to maintain their Class page. They regularly send updates on Reunion events and activities and have even used the platform to promote the new podcast they are recording. About one-third of the Class of 1969 has engaged with the site since the committee began posting in the fall, and committee members are continually encouraging other classmates to join in advance of their June celebration.

“We thought we could start by inviting classmates to sign on and provide feedback about the site,” said Susan Au ’69 Doyle, a reunion committee member. “I used the electronic directory to send personal messages to a few early subscribers, and a number of them got on the site and provided helpful feedback. I love how easy it is to email classmates through the online Ka ‘Ohana Punahou directory listing.” 

The directory filters easily for location, higher education and professional industries. Alumni interested in relocating or networking professionally can easily find alumni to reach out to. Allowing Academy students to harness the alumni network even before they graduate is another way for Ka ‘Ohana Punahou to reach more people, and Punahou is considering how to include high school seniors in a safe and age-appropriate way.

“As we learned from the pandemic, nothing beats a face-to-face connection. But with alumni scattered across the globe, Ka ‘Ohana Punahou allows us to bridge the distance between people and easily connect alumni for personal and professional purposes,” said Rigg.

Ka ‘Ohana Punahou is hosted by Almabase, a third-party vendor, and is monitored and maintained by Alumni Relations staff. Questions about Ka ‘Ohana Punahou should be directed to alumni@punahou.edu.

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