Alumni Association Guidelines

A strong alumni association is an important and necessary component of chapter life, providing support, advice and assistance. The primary purpose of an alumni association is to promote the long-term stability and existence of the chapter while enhancing the fraternity experience. It is the duty of the collegiate chapter to establish an alumni association. In fact, the constitutional authority for alumni associations can be found in the Constitution and Laws (Law 4B - Collegiate Chapters) of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity. Once established, it then becomes the responsibility of the Alumni Association to run itself in accordance with the Constitution, Laws and National Policies of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, Inc.

Whether the chapter is starting a new association or revitalizing an existing group, its purposes and responsibilities must be clearly defined. The primary responsibility of any alumni association is to advise and assist the chapter. There are many ways this can be accomplished:

RESPONSIBILITIES

Within Sigma Tau Gamma, only registered alumni associations chartered within their respective states, can enter into housing contracts, leases, purchase agreements or land acquisition. Collegiate chapter officers are prohibited from entering into any contract which obligates their organization.

The by-laws for a recognized alumni association specifically provide criteria and constitutional authority for providing collegiate housing assistance. All legal documents must be entered into through the appropriate incorporation of the alumni association.

SET FINANCIAL STANDARDS: One of the most significant roles of an alumni association is providing financial and management. This support must be provided to the chapter - especially if the association owns or leases property on behalf of the chapter. The association should approve each term's budget and oversee the overall finances of the chapter.

SET ACADEMIC STANDARDS: The alumni association should assist the chapter in maintaining high academic standards. It should work with the faculty advisor to make sure the important area of scholastic development is given appropriate attention.

REVIEW CHAPTER JUDICIAL BOARD HEARINGS: The alumni association should be kept informed of all issues before the chapter judicial board. At least one alumnus must serve as a sitting member of the judicial board.

ASSIST WITH CHAPTER OFFICER TRAINING AND TRANSITION: It is essential that new officers have sound training. The alumni association should make certain the chapter possesses a training program. The most effective officer transition is done during an "officer retreat".

ATTRACT ADDITIONAL ALUMNI: It is easy for alumni association members to attract additional alumni into membership. Alumni are more inclined to respond to someone they know or who is in a similar peer group.

ADVISE AND LISTEN: The alumni association functions as an advisory organization and provides support. The most effective manner of helping is by LISTENING. By simply taking the time to hear what the collegiate members have to say and providing them with someone to talk to, each alumnus can make a big difference.

CREATE A REVIEW SYSTEM: A system of periodic review should be set up to chart the progress of the chapter. The alumni association can help with establishing and reviewing the goals of the chapter and the officers.

CREATE MINIMUM STANDARDS: The alumni association should work with the chapter to make sure it is maintaining minimum standards and expectations to remain in good standing. The association should support the Constitution, Laws and policies of Sigma Tau Gamma, the chapter's by-laws, the university's policies and all applicable laws.

SUPPLY EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE WHEN NEEDED: An alumni association plays a crucial role in handling crisis management with the chapter. Association members are in a position to educate the chapter in ethics and values that help prevent inappropriate behavior during crises.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN

Plans for an alumni association should start with a review of the chapter itself. A quality individual will want nothing to do with a group of collegiate students that does not have a healthy value system. If there is ongoing abuse of alcohol, drug usage, continuous inappropriate behavior and an unclean living environment, the chapter will never have a good association. Nor will it deserve one.

The first step is to determine the needs of the chapter. What would you like to see an association do? Write down all the ideas. It is important to have these written guidelines. Read appropriate materials, including manuals, brochures, information in chapter files and any additional resources. Ask other chapters on campus what their alumni do for them. Call Headquarters or your Regional Vice President for additional ideas and information.

After a sound picture is established of what the association might accomplish, discuss the topic with a few friends or, better yet, at a joint alumni-collegiate chapter retreat. Write down all the additional ideas and develop a blueprint for accomplishing two or three goals in the first year. Be realistic with your expectations. Always keep in mind the time commitments of alumni.

THE FIRST CONTACT

A letter to area alumni announcing plans to form an alumni association is a good place to start. The letter should be well-written, error-free and sent on quality paper. Appearance is critical. Consider having the faculty advisor review the letter before mailing it.

The letter should be brief (one page) but informative. Be sure to list the address and contact numbers (telephone & e-mail) for any association organizers. Alumni address information for your chapter is available from Headquarters. One free, annual printout is available to each chapter.

It is a good idea to enclose a self-addressed, stamped reply card with the first letter. However, do not expect an overwhelming response to your attempt, but remember that your letter will create an awareness.

Answer all replies with a thank you note or telephone call. Send all interested individuals an invitation for a function to get acquainted, but give at least three-weeks advance notice. This function can be as elaborate as a dinner at a local country club or as simple as a backyard barbecue.

Remember: You don't need 300 alumni for a strong association. The size of the association will depend on the size of your chapter. A 10-member alumni association of committed men can get a lot of work done.

THE FIRST EVENT

About 10 days before the first function, send a reminder post card to those who responded to the invitation. When possible, have an alumnus call each person to confirm their attendance. It is always harder to say "no" to someone already involved with the association.

At the first meeting, have only officers represent the collegiate chapter. Do not have the whole chapter at the event -- it may overwhelm the 10 or so alumni who show up. The chapter officers should be prepared for questions about expectations, goals, chapter problems, needs, etc.

Two purposes of this first meeting are to educate alumni about the need the chapter has for their advice and guidance and to become acquainted with other alumni members. Reserve time either before or after the meeting for alumni to interact without collegiate members being present.

Sometime during the event establish the time, place and day for regular meetings. A guest book should be provided to compile a list of interested alumni and to send thank you notes. Be sure to ask each alumnus for names of prospective alumni you can contact on his behalf for the next meeting.

FOLLOWING UP ON THE FIRST EVENT

Make sure frequent contact is kept with those who expressed interest in helping the chapter ‹ even those who live far away. An alumni association newsletter, an alumni section in the chapter newsletter or a special "members-only" e-mail list serve are all good ideas. Often, people will express interest in contributing time to the alumni association, but the association does not know how to get them involved. The best way to accomplish this is to get alumni to specify an area in which they are interested (e.g. finance, housing, scholarship, ritual, alumni programming) and then help them get involved in that particular direction.

Likewise, the collegiate chapter needs to know what it wants from an alumni association. Determine wants and needs ahead of time and offer specifics in requesting assistance. Vagueness will only discourage willing alumni.

THE SECOND MEETING

After agreement has been made for a few people to attend a future meeting, attempt to meet with the specific purpose of establishing the alumni association. Elections could be held at this time.

By-laws can be adopted by filling in the appropriate blanks on the copy of by-laws provided. A budget and dues structure should be proposed. Recruitment of potential alumni should be ongoing. An important area of recruitment is networking through alumni who have committed themselves. Often, unless an alumnus knows another person involved, he may avoid attending any meeting altogether.

Let alumni encourage the involvement of other alumni by working on programming activities.

ALUMNI DEVELOPMENT

The active alumnus is someone who benefited from his Sigma Tau Gamma experience in the past and who wishes to continue his involvement. One of the best ways a collegiate chapter can make their alumni program stronger is by providing the current undergraduate members with the best fraternity experience possible. Within each member you need to build a sense of pride. Developing a personal commitment to the Principles of Sigma Tau Gamma and a strong values system is how good alumni are produced. Men who have a fulfilling collegiate experience as Sig Taus are often the same men who will contribute to the Fraternity as alumni.

It is important that all members are aware of the lifelong commitment of Sigma Tau Gamma membership, including the need for their continued involvement as alumni.

THE ALUMNI PROGRAM

Recruiting alumni for a healthy alumni association is a time-consuming process, and one that cannot be rushed. Organizing an association depends on having a sound, consistent alumni communications program that keeps alumni aware of Sigma Tau Gamma. An active communication program is one that:
 

- Sends a newsletter to all alumni at least twice a year
- Has regular, well-promoted alumni activities
- Has an alumni directory published at least every five years
- Promotes the chapter so alumni can stay informed

RECRUITING ALUMNI INVOLVEMENT

Alumni will not be looking for some place to waste time. Instead, it is up to and event organizers to involve each alumnus in a meaningful and productive way.

It is important not to "turn off" alumni when recruiting them. Turn offs include:

 

- Overly loud music (at the house or at banquets)
- No arrangements made for spouse at activities
- Not being introduced to anyone
- Requests for money without a detailed plan
- Dirty chapter house (or facility)
- Last-minute invitations
- Not being thanked
- Disorganization
- Rudeness, discourtesy or inappropriate behavior
- Taking them for granted ("you owe it to us")
- Not being considerate of his family members

Always act respectfully and be courteous when searching for volunteers. First impressions mean everything to both the alumnus and his spouse.

ALUMNI RECRUITMENT TIPS

  • Always go for the best person for the job.
  • Recruit people who are involved in other areas of the community. Busy people know how to get the job done.
  • Personal recommendations are effective.
  • Keep a broad range of alumni ages involved.
  • Don't ask for money yet (other than alumni association dues). This can be a big turn-off to potential members.
  • Recruitment is a never-ending process. It should be an agenda item at each alumni meeting.

THE IDEAL RELATIONSHIP

Keep in mind that there is a "relationship" between the chapter and the alumni association. Each party must be responsible, trusting, honest and hard-working at improving the relationship. This is the only way to build a quality organization. Expectations must be reasonable, weighing the skills and experience level of those involved and the number of alumni participating.

Alumni should:
- maintain open lines of communication with the chapter - remember chapters are mostly comprised of 20-year-old men with no practical experience in life skills - hold at least two events per year (without regular activities, association officers will lose interest and their time will become filled with other obligations) - create its own expectations for the chapter

Collegiate members should:
- make it as easy as possible for alumni to be involved
- remember alumni have families that must be financially supported before contributions to the chapter can be made
- give alumni four to six weeks notice of meetings and events. Establish the next meeting agenda at each meeting to set the date and place of the next meeting
- send "thank you" notes when an alumnus attends an event to recognize his efforts
- make every attempt to recognize families and spouses (i.e. cards on holidays, associate member pins for newborn sons, kudos printed in the newsletter)
- establish its expectations of the association
- meet with the association officers to jointly develop a mutually agreed upon list that defines the "will and will nots" of each side.
The results are taken back to the chapter and the association and approved. The relationship agreements should evolve as the chapter develops.

THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION MEETING

Good meeting management is crucial to the development of any alumni association. Brief, productive business meetings add consistency to the chapter programming by providing insight from "outsiders" and initiating programming ideas.

SAMPLE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AGENDA

A. Opening Ritual
     1. Roll Call
     2. Introduction of Guests
B. Minutes from Last Meeting
C. Report of the President
     1. Update on Members Voting by Proxy
     2. Update on Communications with Members
     3. Announcement of Upcoming Meetings/Events
D. Report of Executive Vice President
     1. Condition of Housing Facility
     2. Update on the Filing of Tax Forms
E. Report of the Secretary/Treasurer
     1. Update on Chapter Financial Health
     2. Distribution of Alumni Association Budget and Check Register
     3. Notification of Paid Dues Members
     4. Update on Investments
F. Report of VP of Membership
     1. Update on Communication with the Headquarters
     2. Update on Eligible Alumni Prospects for Membership
     3. Report on Chapter Recruitment Efforts
G. Report of VP of Programs
     1. Report on Upcoming Regional or National Events
     2. Report on Alumni (new spouses, children, etc)
     3. Chapter Scholastic Report
H. Other Reports
     1. Officers & Directors
     2. Committees
I. Old Business
    1. Amendments to Alumni Association By-Laws (if needed)
     2. Election of New Officers (when necessary)
J. New Business
     1. Acceptance of New Members
     2. Confirm Time and Place of Next Meeting
     3. Recruitment of New Members
K. Announcements
L. Adjournment

HINTS FOR GOOD ASSOCIATION MEETINGS

  • Keep a written copy of meeting minutes
  • Conduct meetings in an adequate locations with enough time scheduled to hold a formal business meeting
  • Update the chapter on alumni association activities
  • Introduce new members (even if they are not present)

ASSOCIATION PROGRAMMING IDEAS

The relationship between an alumni association and the chapter can sometimes become strained because of the sheer number of individuals involved.
Somewhere along the way communication may have become relaxed and one party just forgot to take the time to be considerate of the other. Below are some ideas to keep the relationship a healthy one.

 
  1. 1. Create an association newsletter in addition to the chapter newsletter. This is a quick, one-page document that updates alumni on upcoming events or changes.
  2. 2. Send association-meeting announcements encouraging alumni to attend and letting them know discussion topics.
  3. 3. Personalize thank you cards and notes. This shows the organization cares and is interested in an alumnus' involvement. It will also yield better results.
  4. 4. Hold consistent events (e.g. Homecoming, Founder's Day, chartering
  5. 5. Invite the alumni to initiation. This helps reaffirm their commitment
  6. 6. At the anniversary of the chartering, send thank you cards to the local founders or significant alumni.
  7. 7. Be conscious of the appropriateness of timing for meetings and events. You cannot ask for commitments during holiday seasons.
  8. 8. Send birthday cards to alumni or send a card to alumni on their initiation date.
  9. 9. Treat spouses and children well. Hold family days so the whole family can enjoy the chapter. Offer professional child-care services at an event.
  10. 10. Ensure the chapter house is clean. Insist the chapter preserve records, photos and composites.
  11. 11. Give awards to alumni (e.g. Most Involved, Brother of the Year, Exemplary Service).
  12. 12. Keep plaques in the chapter house marking certain cumulative donation(s) level that alumni have reached.
  13. 13. Find areas that association members want to be involved in and create positions to perpetuate their interest.
  14. 14. Have officers keep up-to-date notebooks and records.
  15. 15. Give association members a chapter phone list.
  16. 16. Allow chapter officers to attend association meetings.
  17. 17. Sponsor the initiation of eligible fathers, local businessmen and faculty members as honorary chapter members. (Ask interested alumni members to sponsor their fathers as honorary members, if eligible).
  18. 18. Help the chapter organize a Mom's Club, Dad's Day or Parents' Weekend. Ensure that "welcome" letters are send to parents of new associate members.
There are many more ideas that the alumni association and the chapter can come up with if they are creative. Remember that consistency and professionalism are important to a successful organization.


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