Many chapters deal with the big issue of alumni interest and support, and, unfortunately, many chapters are unsuccessful in their efforts. If your chapter doesn’t already have an established alumni network or association, it can be very difficult to stir up interest among your alumni. Of the alumni who show little interest, the majority simply feel disconnected from the chapter. If they don’t know an active member or what the chapter is doing, then what is the motivation for alumni to take an interest and become involved? And while every alumnus wants to see their chapter succeed and thrive, many believe they have nothing to contribute and there is no feasible role for them. Fortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The key to getting alumni interested and involved in your chapter is to find them a niche and give them a reason to stay. Whether by giving alumni responsibilities and roles, or connecting alumni of the same graduating class, if you give your alumni a purpose for their involvement, they’re more likely to stick around. While there are many ways to reconnect with alumni, we suggest the following four easy steps to improving alumni relations and involvement.
1. Gather contact information
Work with your chapter adviser and even fraternity or sorority nationals to gather the contact information of all known alumni from your chapter. This will be a tedious job but the work will pay off in the end. Also, if you’re interested in broadening your alumni base, consider including alumni living in the area in addition to alumni of your chapter. This is a great way to meet alumni of other chapters and learn about how other chapters and Greek communities function.
2. Contact your alumni
We promise, they won’t bite! Email or call your alumni to get complete and accurate information for your records. Have various members of the chapter do this so people other than you know who the alumni are. And remember: be relentless! In all probability, the alumni you’re trying to contact have full time jobs, families and other social networks. It might take more than one phone call or email to get a response.
3. Plan an alumni event
This is the biggest step of the four step process, and while it is time-consuming, make sure you complete steps 1 and 2 before (trust us, you’ll be glad you did!). Planning a chapter-hosted event for your alumni can be as simple as meeting at a bar for drinks or as complex as a sit-down dinner. You can choose to host an alumni-only event, or an event with both active members and alumni (you might want to save this one for after your alumni meet each other and reconnect). The choice is yours. Just remember, getting alumni out takes time and many, many events. While your first event may not be extremely successful, plan another one and see who else ends up attending.
4. Keep your alumni involved
Once you’ve made contact with alumni and gotten them out to a few events, work to maintain (or even increase) their interest. Chapter newsletters are a great way to keep alumni involved (and keep up-to-date contact information), as are alumni-specific newsletters. Make sure the alumni know what’s going on in the chapter and what the chapter has accomplished, as well as what other alumni are doing.
One final note: we all realize that one of the more prevalent reasons for alumni involvement is fundraising and financial contributions. While you can’t avoid this issue with your alumni (and they probably don’t expect you to), remember to stress that the chapter’s desire for alumni involvement extends beyond writing checks. Being part of an alumni network or association not only serves to involve alumni in chapter business, but it also provides alumni with a social community and network of support. The chapter should encourage alumni to reconnect with each other as this will not only create a tighter and more proactive alumni base, but benefit your alumni on a personal level.
This post was generously provided by ChapterBoard.