Tips For Planning Alumni Events

Best Practices

  • Be sure to appoint a committee 6 to 8 months in advance of the event.
  • Conduct meetings to decide the specifics of the event; promotion to be used, speaker and location choices, assignments, etc.
  • Identify alumni or other main speakers 3 months in advance (or earlier) to acquire a featured speaker.
  • Notify your university alumni office of your plans. See if they will provide additional publicity and promotion through the college alumni magazine.
  • Arrange for a block of seats at a college sporting event or another special event.
  • If spouses/special guests are not invited to attend certain events (such as initiation), arrange for their meal and/or entertainment while alumni are occupied. Put this information in the invitation and program.
  • Select and reserve the location for the event. It is good to have some events at the chapter house and others at a different location, for better parking, variety, etc.
  • Arrange for the newsletter to be sent before the event. Build interest.
  • Involve as many alumni as possible in the planning, promotion, and hosting of the event, so that it appeals to all members. Participation builds interest.
  • Invite a representative from the university and Fraternity’s Executive Offices. The more significant the event, the more prominent the special guests.
  • Capitalize publicity on particularly prominent alumni and other dignitaries to be present before and after the event.
  • Determine the necessary registration fee based on probable attendance and cost of meals, promotion, souvenirs, awards, etc. Income should come from those attending unless in the early years of establishing alumni tradition, that chapter wants to subsidize the event until attendance builds.
  • Recruit and instruct key brothers in major cities to promote attendance and arrange for cooperative transportation.
  • Arrange for a welcoming committee to handle registration, handing out programs, tickets, and hotel registration, etc.
  • Arrange for a cocktail hour (with some non-alcoholic beverages) prior to the event.
  • Arrange for a souvenir or favor to be given out if it is a special dedication or anniversary.
  • Arrange for a golf outing or other participant sports tournament (alumni vs. undergraduates softball, etc).
  • Be sure that all chapter members and associates are aware of the event, attendance expectations, and responsibilities.
  • Arrange for a group photo of all alumni attending the event. Be sure to promote when the picture will be taken and where in advance.
  • Arrange for a write-up of the event in your chapter’s newsletter, the Laurel, and in your university alumni magazine.
  • Arrange for the selection and presentation of a distinguished alumnus award, if applicable.
  • Arrange for an open house tour of the chapter home for alumni and spouses/guests at specific hours.
  • Update and clean up the chapter scrapbooks, archives, trophies, composites, etc. Make an appeal in advance of the reunion for alumni to send objects that could be displayed during the event.
  • Publicly and privately thank all alumni who have helped.
  • Allow for some reminiscing. It’s always a good idea to ask brothers from different eras to speak about some of their best Phi Tau memories.

A Few Thoughts Regarding Programming….

Beyond setting up programs, sending out newsletters, and staging homecoming celebrations, a very basic question is “how do the members of your chapter treat alumni when they return?”

Whether they drop in unexpectedly or return for a large alumni event, you and every brother in your chapter should treat each alumnus as you and your parents would treat a guest in your home. Too often undergraduates mysteriously disappear when alumni walk through the door. You should greet them, extend a firm handshake, help them with their coats, and introduce yourself and other brothers close by. You and your brothers are hosts and you should endeavor to make the alumnus comfortable. Be friendly and give him a tour of the chapter house. Remember, he is a Phi Tau brother.

Another important point is keeping the house clean, particularly the bathrooms. In instances where a chapter does not occupy a house, this holds true for the lodge, dorm floor, or suite that serves as official meeting place. Nothing shows more lack of consideration, self-respect, or Phi Tau pride than a dirty house. Put yourself in the position of an alumnus coming back to the house after being away anywhere from one year to ten or more.

He really doesn’t know any of the current undergraduates, but he knows and loves the Fraternity enough to take time away from his business and family to travel sometimes hundreds of miles to visit the chapter. If he is slighted or not treated as a guest, he may never come back; but if he is treated with brotherly love and respect, and has a good time, his feeling for the Fraternity will be rejuvenated and enhanced. Make sure your alumni get what they deserve.

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