How do chapters stay in touch with their alumni? What seems to work best?
via Dec. 2005 Alumni Relations Newsletter
Are alumni newsletters a thing of your chapter's past? Since only a small percentage of your alumni may attend chapter events, the newsletter is vital piece of the alumni relations program used to keep them in touch with other alumni and informed on national and local progress.
How many newsletters should your chapter produce? Strive to publish at least four a year. This can be done via e-mail or through the post office. E-mail is more cost efficient; although, many times alumni change e-mail addresses without notifying the chapter. It's best to "snail mail" at least one newsletter a year in order to reach all alumni.
The key difference between creating a newsletter that is timely and one that never gets produce is logistics. Remember to take into account the time needed for writing, editing, and mailing and be sure to set realistic deadlines in order to meet your "drop date" (date the newsletter is to be sent).
- Create a production outline that involves every stage from planning to producing your newsletter. Order each stage chronologically and set completion dates. This will help to keep you on track and on schedule. Since many variables can alter schedules, plan for extra time overall.
- 80% of the newsletter should be devoted to articles/ pictures about alumni. After all it is an alumni newsletter! Keep chapter news, event announcements, and 'general interest' articles to a minimum.
- Alumni want to hear about other alumni. Consider a "Where Are They Now" section or similar features.
- If the chapter has an alumni listserv, post an announcement seeking newsletter contributions six weeks before it goes out. But be specific and provide topics. People won't respond unless they have an idea of what is wanted.
- Spotlight an alumnus/a in a "Question and Answer" format. Make sure questions are specific and provide the alumnus/a with generous time to respond.
- It's important to remember your alumni are from a variety of age groups and have different fraternity memories. The newsletter should contain information that will interest the varying ages of your alumni.
- Include reviews of your most recent chapter-alumni events. Don't forget to include a list of the alumni who attended.
- Include pictures
- Include older chapter photos and ask your readers for an explanation about what in going on in the photo. This creates an incentive for your Alumni to reach out to you, and you may find out certain Alumni are reading the newsletters that you thought you may have lost contact with.
- Use the newsletter as a place to ask for help finding 'lost Alumni'
- Have Alumni you know are attending future chapter events write about the event and encourage others to come out
- Include information on national Alumni related issues, such as up coming Alumni Conventions, or information on joining the National Alumni Association. Encouraging your Alumni to be nationally active, makes it that much easier to keep them active with your chapter.
- And most importantly, edit for spelling and grammar!
- Including updates about members of their family line. One way to create interest is by including information about brothers they know or have a connection with. If you chapter only has a handful of family lines, designating space for an article that is targeted the recipient's family line may not be too much extra work. If you are printing your newsletter you can easily add an additional loose sheet of paper with these articles.
- Include information on local Alumni Organizations, such as contact information for their officers, a website where they can find out more about the group and potential up coming events they have planned. The more ways you can keep your Alumni connected to Phi Sigma Pi, the easier you can keep them connected to your chapter.
- Include information on other Alumni from your chapter who are living near the recipient of the newsletter. Your Alumni may not be aware that another member of the chapter has moved nearby recently. To make this a little easier of a task, only include areas where you have several Alumni living, and keep the geographic radius low. Letting members of your chapter know there are several people in the Los Angeles area may be useful. Telling them everyone who lives in California may not be as helpful.