The networks created within higher education last longer than the standard four years it takes to earn a degree. People can recognize a fellow alum anywhere in the world through Greek life apparel. A perfect stranger becomes an instant colleague because of the shared experience at a university.
Alumni chapter leaders should develop events that elevate and deepen this network, concurrently inspiring alumni to donate and support the mission of their fraternal organizations. If you’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas to fill your calendar, we’ve got your back. Here are 10 popular and easily customizable event ideas for alumni chapter leaders to better engage their alumni community.
1. Sporting events
It’s a crisp fall day, and thousands of people in matching jerseys and sweaters enter a stadium. They all know the same songs and cheers for their team. Alumni chapter leaders can easily tap into sports fandom. Find events that your members would already attend and promote your own event or get-together while they’re there. For example, a lot of organizations have events at Wrigley Field, and the Chicago Cubs hosted HBCU Day there in Sept. 2019. It would be easy to find out what events the university is hosting there and piggyback on it to have your own alumni event included.
2. Golf scrambles
Break out those plaid sweaters and trusty clubs! If golf is a shared interest among alumni chapter members, you can host a golf scramble to 1. get friends together, and 2. raise money for a cause. In a traditional scramble, attendees group together in teams of four. Each team member has a chance to tee off, but everyone plays from the spot of the best shot. This format takes the pressure off the individual score and allows forgiveness for frustrating shots into the sand trap. It all ends up being a lot of fun and enables your members to give back at the same time.
3. Happy hours
What could be easier than organizing an alumni happy hour? This low-maintenance activity is perfect if you’re looking to get your first event set up for your alumni chapter. If your members live in different cities around the world, pick a location that’s in proximity for the majority. To boost attendance, identify people from different eras or generations to act as event sponsors and encourage more people to come. Maybe ask the bartender to provide a signature drink in honor of your alma mater and promote the gathering on social networks to broaden your reach.
Homecoming weekend can be much more than one event. With current and former students returning to campus, alumni leaders can capitalize on a large membership base all in the same place at the same time. Work with the university ahead of time and coordinate your alumni chapter event with theirs — you’ll get a lot of freebies in terms of promotion, such as inclusion in the university’s alumni magazine, event calendar, email newsletter, and any other items they send out.
Another idea is to find out what’s happening at the chapter house (if you have one) and piggyback on that event. Make sure that, among the football games and parades, alumni chapters have their own smaller events for members to relive memories with friends from their era.
5. Chapter events
Most Greek communities and honor societies have longstanding events and ceremonies in which current and former members can share. Whether they’re initiations, galas, or graduations, it’s important to remind and invite alumni to return and participate in the customs and rituals of their communities. In the busy day-to-day of post-collegiate life, alumni chapter leaders can help increase member attendance by providing early notice and an annual calendar of major events.
6. Founders Day and anniversary celebrations
Founders Day is always a big deal whether it’s the 150th or 25th anniversary. Plan a special gathering to honor founders’ ideals and celebrate the continued commitment of membership. You can also tie in a fundraising campaign to benefit the undergrad chapter. Whatever you plan to do, make sure to invite headquarters and have someone attend and do a short presentation as a representative of the international organization. Kick event promotion up a notch by getting a steering committee together to get the word out through social media, emails, and calls. Anniversary celebrations for special dates should be hosted on location; reunion weekends can incite older members to return to campus and see how their legacy thrives. Small events can really decorate an anniversary celebration — i.e., a silent auction with campus memorabilia or a meet and greet with undergrad members.
7. Social media contests and holiday events
Holidays are great opportunities for alumni chapter leaders. The theme and décor allow for eye-catching festivities! If holiday decorating is popular among members, plan a photo submission contest – members can submit entries through the chapter’s social network. Featured finalists can be posted on your alumni website and everyone can vote on a winner. This also gives you the opportunity to boost social engagement and followers. Make sure you have an awesome incentive, and if you do decide to host an elaborate contest, post official rules beforehand.
Planning for colder weather? In-person events can include ski weekends, religious services, or maybe a polar plunge.
8. Super Bowl/March Madness
Beyond campus sporting events, national teams garner strong ties and enthusiasm. Would a friendly March Madness pool or Super Bowl bet be of high interest among your members? These are typically free to organize and need little effort to manage. Alumni chapter leaders can easily promote engagement among members without needing to host an event. A pool could act as an online fundraiser as well. If your members would like to meet up, coordinating watch parties for the big games is also fun and highly engaging.
9. Fantasy leagues
Continuing along the vein of sports-related activities, alumni chapters can participate in their own fantasy leagues. These are simple to set up and have built-in leaderboards and discussion boards for some friendly squabbling. Moreover, members can participate no matter where they live. Even those with busy schedules can usually take advantage of auto-draft functionality and mobile apps.
10. Feature alumni speakers and artists
It’s essential to celebrate the successes of alumni chapter members. Inviting them to speak or present can be a great way to honor them, inspire current members, and get more of their communities involved. Whether this is part of a larger event like Homecoming weekend or a standalone event, alumni have a chance to gather to celebrate and learn from one of their own. Encourage speakers to highlight how their experiences on campus and as alumni have augmented their achievements. Artists can showcase at a gallery-like event with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. After the event, consider posting a recording or pictures of highlights from the get-together on your website and social networks – leverage past events to garner buzz for the next ones.
Planning engaging events for your members helps keep them active and entices others to join your alumni group. All of the aforementioned events can be tied to your organization’s mission, fundraising goals, networking initiatives, or celebration of member accomplishments. Try out these events or use them as a springboard for more ideas for your alumni chapter.
About Matt Arnold
As our Vice President of Business Development, Matt is dedicated to serving member-based organizations and small to mid-sized associations. With over 10 years of experience wearing various leadership hats as an Alpha Tau Omega alumnus, Matt specializes in all fraternal organization matters. Whether a group is challenged with growing membership or struggling to engage members, he's got a solution.
Engagement. While the term means different things to different organizations (we have our own definition, too), you’re probably reading this because you understand how essential it is. Broadly defined, engagement is activity, and for your association, the activity between your organization and the member, as well as the member-to-member interaction your association provides that drives membership value.
When it’s time for a member to renew, engagement can mean the difference between leaving and staying. An engaged member is an active member, and the effort to keep members active is ongoing and ever evolving. Every organization is unique, so we’ve put together six different tactics any organization can try to ensure members don’t become stagnant.
Engage their brains
Discovering ways to engage your members in the electrical synapses of their brains isn’t as challenging as you might think. Members are already interested in going beyond their day-to-day activities since they’ve been moved to join your association.
1. Host a Ted Talk-type event
This can involve reaching beyond the normal social circle of association leaders as you look for engaging speakers on a local level. You don’t have to book a professional speaker to create an engaging event. The primary aim of a Ted Talk is to spread ideas, and your association’s membership is an excellent resource. Consider using your members and their social circles when searching for speakers. You can even create a spotlight on a featured member series. This type of event is great for sparking inspiration and thought-provoking ideas among your members. Your local library or civic center is another resource for potential speakers – check recent events for special guests.
2. Host a partner event
Another way to engage your members’ brains is to host an event where your association and a partner or like-minded organization combine efforts. You can celebrate a milestone, a recent launch, or host a fundraising event. An example is a medical association partnering with a children’s hospital for an ice cream social. Think about other local organizations whose missions are similar to yours and reach out to them. These shared events are great ways for like-minded people to network and socialize, while also learning what other organizations are working on. Perhaps your members will discover new reasons to be dedicated to your mission, or maybe you’ll add some new members, but either way, everyone will feel engaged and a little more supported.
Engage their hearts
Speaking to the core values of your members is a tactic for engagement that can work wonders.
3. Organize philanthropic activities
Volunteer opportunities can increase member interaction on several levels. Association leaders can utilize heavily involved volunteers with the opportunity to organize the event. Taking on a leadership role deepens their connection to the association. Philanthropic activities don’t have to be fundraisers. Options like organizing a trash cleanup at a park or a care package drive for soldiers are excellent examples of philanthropy that bring members together for a cause larger than any single person. The kinship members experience after being part of something unerringly good will resonate amongst them long after the event has ended.
4. Let members host a social media takeover
On a more direct level, each of your members has a personal journey and perhaps a strong reason for connecting with and joining your association. Increasing interaction by allowing them to share and promote those personal stories through a social media takeover for a day. This provides them with a way to feel the impact of their role within the association, as well as simply having fun controlling the messaging. Human interest stories are the most compelling, and there may be members who are unaware of each other’s story. Creating more natural bonds within your membership provides value in letting members connect with each other. This is a wonderful chance to mix the heart and humanity of your members with the mission of the association to create something long lasting.
Engage their fun side
Everyone wants time to kick back and relax. That may mean something different for each of your members, but there’s almost always fun angle. Create some icebreaker activities that make it easy for members to interact in a group setting and let the good times roll.
5. Host a book club or game night
Book clubs are often successful among members because they create a goal and a deadline while building itself into the routine of the participants. They also offer the added benefit of creating an online discussion. Members can interact via a forum or discussion board about each book. You can facilitate book selection using online polls. It’s an activity with multiple opportunities for engaging members. If books aren’t a good fit, try a local game night (or day). Members can vote on a game, or you can have a selection of classic games available like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit that don’t require a lot of rules learning time; even charades are fun for keeping the entire group entertained or fostering team building. A variety of games that have broad appeal, like Jenga and Apples to Apples, are a blast for when splinter groups want to play on their own. Looking for something outdoors? A scavenger hunt during the day creates the perfect opportunity for members to interact in teams.
6. Offer members-only giveaways or awards
Spice up those game nights or any other event by including members-only giveaways and contests. Association leaders can gamify initiatives with awards and friendly competition. For example, a member is awarded for being the first to reach a goal for volunteer hours. If you really want to do something special, host an awards show with customized award names to speak to your membership. Volunteer Hero and Donation Champion are sample award ideas. You can choose to hand out awards for all membership activities during an annual or quarterly meeting to highlight the period.
We know there are many more tactics that lead to improved member engagement. Let us know what’s worked for your organization in the comments below!
When a new school year approaches, back-to-school time is without a doubt one of the busiest times for a PTA. There's the stress of adjusting to early mornings, new routines, and the withdrawals of summer. On the flip side, it's rewarding to see PTA efforts in full swing, and it can be a ton of fun when they're effectively orchestrated. To help you get a head start, we’ve put together the three best ways to organize your fall fundraiser, the first major event for many PTAs. Learning your 1, 2, 3’s has never been so easy.
1. PTA member with a plan: plan ahead
Organization is your golden ticket to running an event smoothly, and you not pulling your hair out. Create a checklist with basic items (budget, timeline, materials, etc.). Your fellow PTA members will look to your leadership to steer the planning process and keep them in the loop of what their roles are. Using online surveys to gather feedback, consolidate detailed information that’s pertinent to your event, and ask for volunteer signups can help cut down time on the back-and-forth correspondence between you and your members.
2. Keep it inviting: Send event invites
The sooner you get the word out about your event the more likely it is you’ll see a high turnout. We suggest sending invitations six to eight weeks before the event (or right at the beginning of the school year) so attendees can mark their calendars. It's also a best practice to send a second round of invitations a couple weeks later to those who have not RSVP'd yet. Our event module allows you to create an event site and send invitations. (You can even add your own PTA logos and images!) We recommend using our Smart List feature to target people on your guest list. Smart Lists let you generate email lists for a specific set of people based on platform data. For example, if you sent out an invite to get RSVPs, your next email can target those who replied “Maybe” or those who didn't reply yet. As your event date draws near, you can use the event site to post updates and answer any questions guests have. Increasing your engagement efforts beforehand is a great way to build anticipation so everyone is as excited about the event as you are!
3. Sharing is caring
Social media is one of the best marketing tools around, and best of all, it's free! After you've created your event page, use the social sharing icons available to share your event directly from the platform. Ask your PTA members to share on their social pages as well. Each member has a personal and varied network that will increase awareness of the event, and likely boost attendance. The more people share, the more free publicity you get for your event and your PTA efforts. Along with social media, make sure to ramp up your marketing efforts and spread the word via email flyers, posting information around your community, and publishing announcements on your school or group's website.
Remember to make a plan, send your invites, and spread the word. Most importantly, have fun. The hallmark of a successful event is being able to enjoy yourself alongside your guests.
Our event functionality, donation and email campaign features, and online payment options make it easy to plan for your entire year. So, what are you waiting for? Happy planning!
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of a powerful association management system – to manage, engage, and grow their membership all year long.
Updated since original publication on 10/12/17.
Organizing a successful event is never without its challenges. Lucky for you, part of being a group leader means pulling it off without breaking a sweat. Whether you’re creating more membership value, recruiting new members, or hosting a meeting to communicate your agenda, use an event as a time to showcase your organization at its best. Event planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Following a few key steps (and taking a few deep breaths) can make the whole process more enjoyable.
1. Commit to a committee
Planning an event is much easier if you have a team to support you. If your group doesn’t already have an event committee, consider asking at least one or two people to volunteer. It will allow you to delegate tasks and benefit from the input and expertise of others. Establish a committee in the early stages of planning your event. This way, everyone can be on the same page from day one.
2. Plan ahead
Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, start planning at least four to six months in advance. If you already know you’ll be doing an annual event, put it on your event committee’s calendar. This will give you time to lock down a venue, a caterer, a keynote speaker, or any details that are critical for your event. Give yourself an adequate buffer between planning and execution. Don’t be afraid to multitask, but anticipate event overlap, so separate committees can work in tandem.
4. Make a checklist
Once you know why you’re hosting an event, you can start planning everything else. Organization is crucial to making sure the event runs smoothly, so create a checklist before carrying out your plan, and make sure you stick with it. A discussion board can be a valuable tool because it will keep your event committee on track and informed of how plans are progressing.
Here are some basic items to help you start your list:
Creating an event page allows you to post updates and pictures as well as answer questions that guests may have. Increasing communication and member interaction is a great way to build anticipation and boost attendance.
6. Stay organized
This is the most important thing you can do to avoid mistakes and limit the stress of event planning. Keeping track of RSVPs, their plus-ones, meal selections, food allergies, and add-ons like raffle tickets and more can be a daunting task. Member management software streamlines this by allowing guests to RSVP and purchase tickets online. Event organizers benefit by having all of the necessary information in one location that they can access from virtually anywhere. A month before your event, plan a weekly check-in with your event committee. Increase it to daily check-ins the week before the event to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
7. Have fun!
You’ve worked hard to create the perfect event, and now it’s time to profit from a job well done. Remember to make a plan, set a goal, and stay organized. Most importantly, have fun! The hallmark of a successful event is being able to enjoy yourself alongside your guests.
Our event functionality, donation and email campaign features, discussion boards, and online payment forms make it easy to plan for your entire year. Ready to get going?
Updated since original publication on 5/05/2017.
Effective PTA leaders have many duties. They have endless parenting obligations, and must commit to becoming a resource to other parents in the community. PTA leaders focus on fundraising because they firmly believe their altruism will help not just their children, but all the children of that school community. As a PTA leader, you might find it challenging to balance these responsibilities. Take the time to understand the online tools at your disposal, and your local PTA will reap many exciting and lucrative benefits.
Social media reaches more people
The number of social media users is growing exponentially. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social, there are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, or 45 percent of the world population.
It makes perfect sense for PTA leaders to consider how using social media can boost fundraising by targeting specific audiences. For example, The Balance Small Business claims that millennials prefer online and social giving. Take a look at how connected to technology your PTA members are. Using smartphones have become a way of life for most. Utilize and mobilize your social media presence to spread the word about fundraising events.
Mobile and online payments simplify the process
Offering online and/or mobile payment and donation options do more than just help you broaden your reach. They remove the need for donors to have cash and checks on hand. Accepting online payments leverages today’s tech with potential donors - it’s only a few clicks from decision to completion of payment. That’s why online donation campaigns see more overall dollars collected. It’s not just easy, it’s a familiar process that donors feel innately comfortable with. According to a Cone Communications study, 48 percent of American adults are likely to use an app to make a donation. What are you waiting for? You can broaden your reach (and increase your donations) by using mobile and online payment methods.
Photos improve engagement
Email drives donations
Email is a powerful tool for driving PTA social media presence and donations. Just ask the people behind the M&R Benchmarks Study who found that for every 1,000 fundraising emails delivered, a nonprofit organization raises $44. When you make emails engaging and fun, you might even pick up some email subscribers.
Keeping your email contacts organized in an online platform makes it seamless to communicate with your whole audience and track their responses. You can test and target your messages to specific recipients, and optimize your fundraising efforts to meet your goals every time.
Beyond emails, organizing your contacts on the platform into customized distribution lists drives engagement in a specific way most suited to your needs. Set them up to send thank-you messages anytime someone donates, or send donation campaign details to any new contacts. Your options aren’t limitless, they’re better: They’re specifics built exactly for you and your local PTA.
By making the most of online tools such as social media, electronic payment options, photo sharing, and email, you can be more successful in your fundraising efforts. memberplanet's integrated platform makes it easy to use these tools, and offers local PTAs an edge that will make managing fundraising events more effective and engaging.
Learn more about fundraising.
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of a powerful association management system – to manage, engage, and grow their membership all year long.
Updated since original publication on 9/22/2017.
Contrary to popular belief, you really don’t need a big budget or a celebrity cameo to successfully market your event. Save the big bucks for other areas of your event planning and hosting – you can still effectively get the word out with an impeccable, multi-channel marketing strategy. Read on for suggestions on how to ensure your next big event is well promoted and attended.
Reach out to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with engaging content. Create posts that will create an emotional connection with your audience. Now’s the time to be bold, exciting, and buzzworthy. This is where quotes from your speaker interviews and videos can be repurposed. If you don’t have a graphic designer, Canva is an easy and free tool to use to put together digital posters and flyers. A social media scheduler like Buffer can also help you plan posts in advance.
Another way to elicit engagement is to post polls and surveys pre- and post-event. You can get feedback on venue suggestions, what type of upcoming events your followers are looking forward to, and awards-related topics – nominations, recognition, and prizes.
Additional tip: When you publish your posts, don’t forget to use appropriate hashtags and actively like, comment, and share others’ posts. Doing this helps boost your own posts’ visibility!
Take advantage of paid promotion on social media. Running a pay-per-click ad on Facebook or LinkedIn is an affordable way to reach your target audience, and you only pay when users take action. Before doing this, set up an event landing page where visitors can find out all about your event and purchase tickets. Aside from social media, don’t disregard creating paper flyers to distribute in your community as well as traditional advertising with your local radio, TV stations, and newspapers. If buying an ad isn’t an option, send a press release with details on how your event can be covered with a free press pass or two to your event.
Email and Text
Email marketing is still one of the most efficient and cost-effective channels to reach a target audience. If you have an email newsletter, give your upcoming event prime placement. Or, set up a separate email campaign solely dedicated to sending event invites. Craft attention-grabbing subject lines, and keep an eye on email stats such as opens and clicks so you can further optimize each email. Most email marketing systems provide these standard metrics so you can track what’s working and what isn’t.
Pro Tip: Email event reminders and invites three times (on different days of course). The average office worker receives 121 emails every day. Because emails are so disposable and we’re all easily distracted due to multitasking, everyone needs multiple reminders.
Sending text messages is by far the most effective means of communication. According to Forbes, 95 percent of all texts are read within three minutes. If you want to make sure your members are aware of your event, text them. Keep in mind that SMS marketing is heavily regulated to protect consumers and marketers alike (users can opt out). Use common sense, send messages when appropriate, and don’t sound spammy.
Marketing is just one component of orchestrating a successful event. The right tools can help you effortlessly plan, promote, and manage an event for your association. Our online membership platform is fully integrated with event management, communication, and social media tools and features, so tracking member activity, participation, and financials can be done in one place. Streamline online event management and let your staff and volunteers spend more time on your mission – contact memberplanet to learn more about how we can help you manage, engage, and grow.
Updated since original publication on 1/19/18.
Coordinating a large event, such as a conference or annual meeting, where you’ve got multiple vendors, speakers, and a lot of eager attendees is plenty to deal with. While you might get a kick out of running the show, making sure everything goes smoothly (at least from the member perspective), and crossing off items on your to-do list, accurately tracking attendance is not something you need to stress over. Our recent tech update simplifies RSVP sharing and events check-in.
Enable RSVPs and let members share their event invites
Enabling RSVPs has awesome benefits – you can get a headcount ahead of time, generate event buzz by letting guests see who else has RSVP’d, and send tailored messages targeting people on your guest list based on their RSVP response. It’s a great way to promote online event registration and increase operational visibility on the days leading up to your event.
Previously, some guests would forward their personalized invite to a friend. When their friend RSVP’d using the link from the invite, it registered as an RSVP from the initial email recipient. You can imagine how that would create a lot of confusion on the reporting side. Our recent fix added an option to verify whether the person’s name matches the name on the invite. If it doesn’t, they can log in with their own credentials and continue to RSVP.
Here’s what your members will see when accessing an event invite:
When clicking the RSVP Now button from the email, the name on the invite will appear on the next screen. If it’s not their name, they can click the link to RSVP for someone else
Members who click the link will be directed to the RSVP page where they can enter their basic information and click Continue to complete their RSVP.
Record accurate attendance at your event by enabling check-in
While RSVPing lets you track attendance before your event, the new check-in feature gives you the ability to accurately track and record attendance on the actual day of your event. On a smaller scale, this is also critical if your organization requires members to be physically present for an activity, such as a community outreach, weekly membership meeting, or a study session.
Event check-in lets you:
Admins can record a check-in by requiring members to use a system-generated passcode or manually checking in attendees. Admins can also customize the start and end times of the check-in window and edit the check-in status of a member.
Follow these steps to enable check-in:
2. Click on an upcoming event you want to edit
3. On the top right of the event dashboard, click the Edit button
4. Scroll to the area below your event description, then click Yes to enable check-in
5. Select whether you want to use a passcode or manually check in attendees from the dropdown
6. Customize check-in start and end times if needed
7. Save your changes and continue editing your event details by clicking the Save and Customize button
Add a participation tracker to your event
If you are on an Enterprise plan, or belong to a chapter or club whose national or headquarters level has a partnership with memberplanet, you can automatically award and record credits for members when they check in. Admins can do this by linking an event check-in with a participation tracker.
2. Select Yes to add a tracker
3. Select the tracker you wish to add
4. Type in a Participation Label, which will appear in your records
5. Type in the value of points (or credits, hours or any other unit) you wish to award for check in
6. Click the Save & Customize button to save your changes and continue editing your event
Learn more about the Participation Tracker feature, or click to view the full support documentation for enabling events check-in.
If you would like to take advantage of this feature on our Enterprise plan, please schedule a chat with me.
When you’re planning an event, are you the kind who likes to roll up your sleeves, set wheels in motion, and plunge headlong into details (logistics)? Or are you more of a visionary, a big-picture thinker who likes to paint with broad strokes (strategic)?
Whether you prefer event planning logistics or strategies, or dabbling in a bit of both, these nine milestones and list of pro tips that go along with them are not to be overlooked. We’ve categorized the to do’s as logistic and strategic items, so you can delegate them out to your team members according to their strengths. Note that the milestones may vary for the type of event you’re hosting, but the general rule of thumb is, the earlier you can do them, the better.
12 months out
Some organizations create separate event pages dedicated to planning for their upcoming fundraisers.
For Delta Gamma Phoenix Alumnae Chapter, this lets administers get a head start for their “Tables that Bloom” annual fundraiser that benefits the Delta Gamma Foundation and its philanthropic endeavors.
Tony Marmo, president of the Ulster County Italian-American Foundation, dedicated to advancing and preserving Italian heritage in the Kingston, NY, area, hosts 130-plate dinners each month to raise money for scholarships, cancer treatments, and charities. Each dinner raises as much as $5,000.
“You have to create buzz,” Marmo said. “You need an interesting topic or speaker – something to draw a crowd.”
Six months out from your event date might seem like a long time, but remember, you can’t move forward in other areas until after you’ve made many of your creative decisions.
2) Invitation (include a calendar attachment and set a reminder/alert).
3) Reminder message.
On your calendar invitation, don’t forget to set an event reminder. Include directions and link to a map if that’s not already on your dedicated event site.
On memberplanet, you have a ton of email features at your fingertips, from templates, to targeted distribution lists, to tracking reports. Use them to optimize every email send.
In publicity, reminders are essential. Digital Marketing Ramblings reports the average office worker receives 121 emails every day. Because emails are so disposable and we’re all easily distracted due to multitasking, everyone needs multiple reminders.
Marmo agreed: “One email sent one time just isn’t going to do it. You’ve got to promote the event and sometimes do it in more than one way.”
The logistics of strategy
We’ve just taken a look at strategy and logistics tasks in planning your event. By understanding which types of planners you and your team members are, you can up your game in any of the areas that need work.
Log in and get started with your next event.
Updated and Refreshed since original publication on 12/1/2017
Hosting a successful social function is never without its challenges. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you pull it off without breaking a sweat. Whether you’re thanking members, gathering the community, or recruiting new members, use an event as a time to showcase your club at its best. Event planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Following a few key steps (and taking a few deep breaths) can make the whole process more enjoyable.
1. Commit to a committee
Organizing club programs and activities will be much easier if you have a group of event planners. If your club doesn’t already have an event committee, consider asking for volunteers. Ask spouses, family members, and any authorized guests to join in the process. This will allow you to delegate tasks, save time, and benefit from the input and expertise of others. Establish a committee in the early stages of planning your social function. This way, your servicemen and volunteers can be on the same page from day one.
2. Plan ahead
Depending on the type of event your club is hosting, start planning at least four to six months in advance for big gatherings like Airman Leadership School graduations and dinner galas. Make sure to put all recurring annual events on your committee’s calendar. This will give you time to prepare the venue, a caterer, a keynote speaker, or any details that are critical for your event. Give yourself and your team an adequate buffer between planning and execution. Don’t be afraid to multitask, but anticipate event overlap, so separate committees can work in tandem.
3. Create a game plan
Set a goal for each of your events and clarify your intentions. Are you looking to recruit new club members? Are you organizing a membership drive? Or maybe the Cinco De Mayo party? Use each gathering as a publicity opportunity to elevate the exposure of your club if your goal is to attract new servicemen. Share your RSVP with other servicemen to generate buzz and entice them to attend. Knowing exactly what you want the event to achieve will help you plan the necessary details to attain your goals.
4. Make a checklist
Organization is crucial to making sure the event runs smoothly, so create and distribute a checklist before carrying out your plan, and make sure you stick with it. Once you’ve outlined your goal for an event, program, class, or drive, you can start planning everything else. A discussion board can be a valuable tool because it will keep your event committee on track and informed of how plans are progressing.
Here are some basic items to help you start your list:
5. Send invitations
It's important to get the word out to club members and their guests early, within six to eight weeks of the big event, so invitees can save the day and make any necessary arrangements. People are more likely to decline last-minute invitations if they don't have enough notice to set aside the time. This may also make the event seem unorganized.
Creating a web page for the event allows you to post updates and pictures as well as answer questions that invitees may have. Increasing communication and member interaction is a great way to build anticipation to boost attendance. Your event page can include: images, branding, ticketing, and a location map.
6. Stay organized
This is extremely important to avoid mistakes and limit the stress of your event planning. Keeping track of RSVPs, their guests, meal selections, food allergies, and add-ons like raffle tickets, prizes, and more can be a daunting task. Our member management platform streamlines this by allowing guests to RSVP and purchase tickets online using the events module. Event committees benefit when all the necessary information is organized in one location that they can access from virtually anywhere. A month before your event, schedule weekly check-ins with your team. Increase it to daily check-ins the week before the event ensure that everyone is ready-to-go and on the same page.
7. Have fun!
You and your team have worked hard to create the perfect function and now it’s time to profit from a job well done. Remember, in order, to make a game plan, set a goal, and stay organized. And most importantly, have fun! The hallmark of your successful event is being able to enjoy yourself alongside your servicemen.
Our event functionality, donation and email campaign features, discussion boards, and online payment forms within the event module make it easy to plan for your entire year. Let’s get going!
How the Epsilon Rho Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Uses memberplanet’s Events Features to Boost Revenue by 247%
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is one of the nation's largest African American women's organizations. The sorority is predicated on the ideals of scholarship, service, sisterly love, and finer womanhood. The Epsilon Rho Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta is the Northern Delaware Graduate Chapter, and has served the New Castle County area since 1955. Despite the chapter’s support of Zeta Phi Beta’s work on prominent community initiatives, Epsilon Rho Zeta struggled to raise the funds needed to efficiently plan its own events. Its administrators spent too much time chasing after bounced checks and outstanding dues. Since partnering with memberplanet, the chapter has streamlined processes, improved fundraising transparency, and increased online revenue for its top three events by 247%.
Epsilon Rho Zeta was actively involved in prominent initiatives on headquarters’ level, including March of Dimes and American Cancer Society. However, chapter administrators found it challenging to raise the funds needed to support their own operational functions. “It was difficult to plan events and fundraisers as we never knew exactly what resources we would have available — only what we expected to have,” Michelle Mack-Williams, the chapter’s First Vice President, said. New and existing members paid their dues by check or cash, which created a number of hurdles. “We’d have to keep manual records of who paid and who hadn’t, so we could follow up on outstanding dues.” Time that could be spent fundraising or planning events went to chasing down members with an outstanding balance. Bounced checks led to uncomfortable conversations and funding delays, Mack-Williams admitted.
Members and donors expect line-item transparency for financial transactions, and Greek organizations that have fallen behind on technology often struggle to help members and supporters understand how and where their dues and donations are being used. Not only does this impact people’s willingness to give, it also affects an organization’s ability to understand the effectiveness of its initiatives, making it difficult to determine what events are most successful in raising funds.
Once the chapter teamed up with memberplanet, the ability and convenience of making donations and paying dues electronically, rather than only accepting checks or cash payments, drastically boosted event revenue. Chapter administrators could easily promote and manage events online with mass emailing and tracking tools, online RSVPs, and the mobile app. In fact, revenue for its three most significant annual events has increased a combined total of more than 247% since 2014.
Increase of Efficiency Leads to Reduction of Cost
Mack-Williams and the executive board of Epsilon Rho Zeta originally chose memberplanet to streamline fundraising for its youth and chapter activities.
“I am always looking for new ways to stay organized, and when I first found memberplanet, that was the driver,” Mack-Williams said. “We have been able to streamline our processes, and this has yielded time savings in both manpower and efficiencies. Having the ability to track payments for individual youth activities and to export those reports for reconciliation was a huge bonus. We recently implemented online registration packets, like our youth application and debutante application, which are completely electronic. This has allowed us to get everything completed in one shot.”
Promoting the chapter’s up to 11 annual fundraising events online has improved the chapter’s reach and member engagement, resulting in both increased collections and reduced costs for the chapter. And memberplanet has allowed the chapter to go completely green for dues, event tickets, and applications.
Improvements in Transparency and Reporting
As Epsilon Rho Zeta’s fundraising initiatives have increased, so has its reporting requirements. At first, the sorority only used the platform for a few events. As it ramped up on activities, administrators also increased their use of memberplanet. Mack-Williams lauds memberplanet for its scalability and credits the support team for getting to know the chapter’s unique needs.
“I believe improved transparency and reporting accuracy have allowed us to track our data more efficiently,” Mack-Williams said. “We are a more agile chapter because of the technology that is at our fingertips at any given moment, and that is satisfaction that you cannot measure in dollars and cents.”
A Closer Look at Epsilon Rho Zeta’s Online Results
An All-in-one, Scalable Fundraising and Membership Solution
The Epsilon Rho Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta implemented memberplanet at the end of December 2013. Since then, the platform has helped the chapter to increase revenues, cut costs, and has provided transparency into its fundraising efforts. The platform’s regular tech upgrades and enhancements have aided the chapter in meeting its increasing needs – and Mack-Williams sees the platform as a toolkit that’s integral to Epsilon Rho Zeta’s continued success and growth.
Contact memberplanet today if you would like to see how the platform can help your organization succeed.