Involvement in an alumni chapter is a great way to continue serving your fraternal organization and remain connected to members. Being an alumni leader, however, isn’t always easy. There’s always a lot to do and consider – yet you took on the role because you saw how it would continue to enrich your life as well as the members who are part of the organization.
The fact that you’re being proactive and looking for ways to manage your alumni chapter is great. Similar to having tunnel vision, some alumni leaders focus on one area, but overlook another, which can hinder their overall success. To ensure you’re being most effective, these five areas of focus are vital: an alumni website, social media presence, communication, dues collection, and events. With the right tools and some delegation, it’s not that difficult. Read on for fundamentals – and to avoid tunnel vision.
1. Develop a website presence
I’ve seen many new alumni leaders develop social media handles for their chapter yet neglect to update or even start a website. You shouldn’t skip the step of creating a virtual, official presence for your alumni chapter. Reach out to other alums to ask for a volunteer webmaster if you’re not comfortable maintaining a website. Make sure to use a memorable URL.
Your website acts as the public face of your alumni chapter and a hub for your members. It’s also a news feed that will allow members to stay updated on what is happening with the active chapter. This should be the official place to post alumni social events, activities, and updates. A members-only login is just as important – being part of an alumni chapter is a privilege, so your dues-paying members should have a personal login where they can access your members-only content and perks.
2. Create a social media following
Leveraging social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to amplify your reach and create a dedicated following for your alumni chapter. If you’re not sure what social media networks are most popular among your members, Facebook and LinkedIn (for job/career-related posts) are a good place to start. Facebook is still the reigning social network, boasting 2.41 billion monthly active users as of June 2019. You can create private groups if you would like to emphasize the exclusivity of being a member, but if your goal is to expand your reach, go for public pages.
Thirteen percent of global active Facebook users were women between the ages of 25 and 34, and 19 percent were men in the same age range – the biggest demographic of Facebook users as of April 2019. To promote your activities, philanthropy, and initiatives and create a following, use applicable hashtags and tags, engaging content, and eye-catching imagery or videos.
You can utilize other social networks too, but what’s important is that you (or your social media manager) engage your audience consistently. Once you get the ball rolling, your active members will help your social media presence become a vibrant part of your organizational routine.
While email is effective, some of your alums will prefer to receive text message notifications; comprehensive marketing tools will allow you to draft a message once and send via email and/or group text simultaneously. More robust software will let you segment and target contacts based on data, so you can send tailored messages to everyone who RSVP’d for an event for example. Use built-in metrics (opens, clicks, bounces, etc.) from your communication software to gauge how engaging your content is.
4. Take advantage of a dues program
Collecting dues for your alumni chapter can be a time-consuming headache if you’re doing this manually. Keeping track of who’s paid and who hasn’t, sending out reminders, and handling cash and check are just a few of the tasks that are prone to error. A comprehensive dues program allows administrators to automate the collection of dues and offer convenient payment options for members, so you and your volunteers can focus on driving value for your chapter. The right dues program will offer additional major benefits, including integrated payments for donations and other payments.
5. Plan engaging events
The best events are not only easy to promote, they’re the ones that appeal to both members and prospects to keep your alumni active and increase participation. Your events committee should plan a good mix of annual (Homecoming, sports, etc.), social, and philanthropic events. Alumni members might be busy with work and scattered across the country, but if you plan well in advance and use event management tools to make the experience as convenient and valuable as possible, they will be more likely to attend.
Keep in mind that events and activities can be virtual and be just as successful as a physical event. If you create meaningful opportunities for your members, they will recognize the benefit of staying involved.
Here are some event ideas that can be done online or in person:
These five core components are critical in managing an effective alumni chapter over time. At memberplanet, simplifying membership is our constant focus. Our software and solutions help alumni chapters manage membership, engage supporters, and grow their organization – all in one spot. To learn more, please schedule a demo with the team.
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.