Your chapter newsletter is a direct pipeline to your alumni. It is the best way to stay in touch with your alumni and keep them up-to-date on how their chapter stands on the campus. Newsletters do not need to be costly or printed on expensive paper or even printed at all. Nor do they need to be sent first-class, as third-class mail will get it into the hands of your alumni at a fraction of the cost and most alumni have reached the digital age and emailed newsletters can work well. Although, many alumni still appreciate the receiving of a paper newsletter. The two most important factors in a successful alumni newsletter are:

  1. How often it is sent out?
  2. What is the content?

All of the other variables you can decide for yourself as to how they can best be handled, but these two important points must be adhered to if your newsletter is going to be successful and worth the effort.

How often should we send out a newsletter?

Common sense will tell you that you have to publish a good newsletter often enough to keep your chapter fixed positively in the minds of your alumni. An advertising and marketing professional would use the term "saturation." You must saturate your alumni with just the right amount of exposure to the plans and accomplishments of your chapter. For most chapters, this means three newsletters a year, and certainly, no fewer than two a year. Even two newsletters is a half-hearted effort, and clearly, one newsletter a year will have little, if any, cumulative effect on your alumni whatsoever. If you feel you need to send more mailings as part of a special drive or anniversary event, go ahead. The more contact the better, so long as all the pieces are well written and edited. See example newsletters at

Should we send out newsletter bulk rate?

If you are mailing your newsletter to more than 200 alumni, it makes sense to use a third-class bulk rate mailing permit. Perhaps your chapter or campus IFC already has a bulk permit that you can use. You can save 12 1/4 cents on each letter you mail over first-class, and those savings really mount up. On a mailing to 350 alumni, first-class mailing at current rates would cost you nearly $130. Third-class bulk rate would only cost around $90. When using third-class mail, you must remember that it will take up to two weeks longer for your letter to arrive, so you must plan accordingly. Full details on applications can be obtained from your local post office.

Can we just send out our newsletter by email?

Doing a digital newsletter is of course a great way to achieve alumni communication without incurring printing or mailing fees. Think about how many emails that you get every day: Do you read all of your emails? Do you read half of them? Would you sit and read a full Alumni newsletter in your email? Will the file size be too big? These are questions to consider because of the over-saturation of emails that we receive. If you plan to use email to send out a version of your newsletter, know your audience. Your older alumni may want a printed version, or you may want to consider a printed fall newsletter with email update newsletters in the spring.

When should we send our newsletter?

It does no good if an alumnus receives his invitation to Homecoming two days after the event or even two days before the event. Alumni with family and business responsibilities must plan their travel months in advance, so an invitation to a specific event should be in the mail no later than six weeks prior (if not earlier) to the date of the event. Timing of your newsletters is also important to the success of your program. In general, one should be sent early in the fall as an invitation to Homecoming, listing early term news; another sent shortly after the first of the year, listing fall term accomplishments; and one right at the end of the spring term, summing up the year and listing Homecoming plans for next fall. You may want to modify this outline to suit some special needs of your chapter, but in any case, make sure your newsletters are well spaced and contain timely news.

Where should we print our newsletter?

With the proliferation of "quick print" franchises around the country, a good-looking newsletter with pictures can be printed for you by professionals at a very reasonable cost. You may have the printing capabilities to do the printing on your own printer, a chapter printer, or at the university library or simply a Kinko’s. Use editing software such as Adobe publisher or Microsoft Office, they are simple, but you can create a professional newsletter very easily. Anyone in the chapter with high school newspaper experience or journalism major will be able to help you work out the technical details of publishing your newsletter.

Should we include graphics?

The use of pictures and good artwork can really add to the attractiveness and reader response of your newsletters. First, you need an eye-catching masthead, which is the banner at the top of the first page carrying the title of your publication. Using good branding techniques means you should not change the name of your newsletter or its graphic masthead. has official graphics in electronic format to assist you in your efforts. Also, you may want to pick a catchy title, using your chapter’s Greek designation or traditional name. Some examples include "The GO Gazette" at Gamma Omicron Chapter (Cal-Fullerton) or "The Muse" at Mu Chapter (Lawrence). Why use a dull name like "Phi Tau News" when a little imagination will cause alumni to sit up and take notice of your efforts.

Should we include pictures?

You should remember the following items in using pictures:

  • Color photos add to printing costs and file size if emailed
  • Use pictures of Alumni and Alumni events
  • Be careful as to what kind of pictures you use. You should concentrate on pictures of:
    • Alumni groups
    • Your new associate class
    • New officers
    • New house improvements
    • Charitable projects (such as The Hole in the Gang Camps)
    • University events (such as Homecoming)
  • Do not use pictures of parties, drinking, or beach shots from Florida; these make a very bad impression on alumni
  • Always project a positive image with your pictures and artwork
  • Remember that your newsletter is for alumni and not for undergraduates to see their pictures published

What should we include in the newsletter?

What do your alumni want to read? What you put in your alumni newsletter is even more important than how it looks and how often it is sent. Here are some ideas for articles you may want to consider:

  • Homecoming and other alumni gatherings
  • Alumni updates solicited from your alumni
    • New Jobs
    • Marriages
    • Births
    • Moves and address changes
  • Recruitment results with the names and hometowns of associates
  • An article by the President on recent chapter accomplishments
  • A chapter advisor’s column
  • Chapter charitable projects
  • Feature on an alumnus with unusual talents, skills, or accomplishments
  • Graduate school acceptances of chapter members
  • Recent alumni visitors to the chapter house
  • Recent improvements to the chapter house
  • Graduating seniors, their majors and what kind of jobs they are seeking
  • Forms for recruitment recommendations from alumni
  • Thank you to specific alumni who have recommended potential members
  • Lists of alumni who have attended the chapter’s last alumni function

What sections of the newsletter will appeal to alumni?

The news alumni will always read, that will always spark their interest and loyalty, is news about other alumni. Short capsule reports that tell of new addresses, marriages, new jobs or promotions are the best ways to keep alumni in touch with their fellow brothers from the same era. The best way to get this kind of information is to write or call alumni directly and interview them about their lives and try to get information about their pledge brothers with whom they are still in touch. Many chapters devote a special section of their newsletter to alumni news. Some of the following subheadings might be helpful:

  • Phi Tau Updates (marriages, births, etc.)
  • Phi Tau’s on the move (new jobs and addresses)
  • Phi Tau’s in the news
  • From the scrapbook (old pictures - ask alumni to write in and identify)
  • Twenty years later (give occupations for an entire pledge class after twenty years)
  • Lost Phi Tau’s (try to obtain current addresses)
  • Anniversary classes (5, 10, and 20 year reunions)
  • Feature articles (prominent alumni, longtime employees, etc.).
  • The Chapter Eternal (reports of deceased alumni)

You can also obtain this kind of information by sending out a short questionnaire as part of your next newsletter. Be sure to use some of the information sent to you by each alumnus, because everyone likes to see their name in print, especially if they took the time to fill out your questionnaire.

What are some things that we should leave out of our newsletter?

Since we have spent some time talking about the kind of subjects and articles that should appear in your newsletter, we should also talk about articles that should not appear. Remember, this newsletter is for alumni, not the undergraduate chapter. Everything in it should be of interest to Phi Tau alumni.

  • Alumni are not interested in last Saturday night’s party or your social calendar in general
  • Avoid inside jokes about chapter members, the use of nicknames, and reports of who got pinned to whom. Alumni consider this to be unnecessary.
  • Do not make any derogatory remarks about the university, the faculty, administration, other fraternities or sororities, or anybody associated with the chapter

It may be that alumni are invited to your chapter’s formal in the Spring or Fall, and if this is the case, it should be given a big play in your newsletter. A traditional social event, one that has been held for more than eight years by your chapter, can also be a newsworthy item. You need to exercise good judgment in the content of your newsletter to make it worthy of your chapter and Phi Kappa Tau.

In our newsletter, how should we ask for money?

This is a cardinal rule: do not ask your alumni for money in your newsletter. Too many chapter alumni programs have fallen flat on their faces because the newsletter was nothing more than an appeal for money with a little window dressing. How would you feel as an alumnus if you only received a newsletter once every year or two with always the same pleas… send your dollars? Typically, these kinds of appeals end up in the trashcan. Blatant requests for money should be avoided at all costs. To be successful in fundraising, a chapter must first be successful in friendraising, which is what your newsletter is all about! Many alumni will contribute generously to capital fund campaigns for the purchase of a new house, remodeling, or renovation. The House Corporation or a special fundraising committee should undertake such a fund drive. The experience throughout the Fraternity has been that only alumni can effectively ask and receive monetary support from other alumni. Your House Corporation can work with the Phi Kappa Tau Foundation to receive the assistance it will need in organizing and directing such a capital fund drive.

What does an example newsletter look like?

Example Newsletter

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