6 Tips for Excellence in Alumni Community ServicePosted: January 10, 2013
Community service events unite alumni around a common cause and provide a platform for alumni as goodwill ambassadors for the university. But, they can easily become just another task for your organization if they aren’t well conceived and effectively administered.
Here are our top tips for creating quality events that add value to your organization and local communities.
- Know what you want to accomplish. In hosting community service events, what are you hoping to achieve? Are you fostering relationships among your alumni body? Trying to increase visibility for the university? Providing a volunteer base for a worthwhile, designated charity? Whatever your goal, ensure that it stems from a strategic objective.
- Plan well in advance. Many alumni organizations host multi-city or month long service events, and coordinating these takes 3-4 months of planning to do them well. More ambitious projects may take a year of planning. Consider timelines for working with designers, communications staff, purchasing departments, and partner organizations.
- Recruit volunteers to lead the charge and take ownership of the activities. Volunteers are the backbone of any successful event, so engage them early and often in the planning process, and identify a lead-volunteer to serve as the point person on the day of the event.
- Mobilize a team of staff to assist with the effort. Appoint a team leader to provide overall direction, but designate individuals to communicate with volunteers, send email reminders, oversee event registration (if applicable), or disseminate supplies. Don’t let the responsibility for planning and executing your service events rest on one person’s shoulders.
- Have fun! Remember the spirit of the service you’re doing and enjoy the camaraderie of serving others alongside your alumni and staff.
- Communicate your results and say thanks. Report your accomplishments to your alumni body, partners, staff, and volunteers, and celebrate your successes!
Here are a few examples of community service events and programs from alumni organizations around the country.
- Princeton combines community service with its class reunion program, with various classes hosting their own special projects.
- Iowa State’s “Cy’s Days of Service” runs for the month of April. A photo gallery captures their alumni’s 1,500 hours of service across the globe. They also do a great job of communicating their results.
- The University of Michigan promotes spirit and pride by hosting its “Alumni Community Service Day” on graduation day.
- The Pacifica University Alumni Association launched its first community service project in 2012 in conjunction with the Alternatives to Violence Project.
- Oregon State University hosted a multi-city day of service at 43 sites in 2102, including one in Ethiopia.
- Santa Clara’s “Alumni for Others” service program allows alumni to initiate projects year-round and provides tips for planning a service project.