That’s right. Autopilot off. Extend the landing gear. Coming in for final approach.
You’ve got this.
How do we know? Simple. We’ve seen countless alumni just like you help build effective fraternity engagement with their chapters.
While engagement may be a team effort, it begins and ends with the individual alumnus.
In case you haven’t figured out whom we’re talking about yet, it’s you.
You’re at the center of how and why engagement works. Why?
When your fellow alumni see faceless emails and newsletters and glossy fraternity magazines coming their way, they aren’t enough to incentivize engagement.
Think about it. If you’re an alumnus who lives far away from campus, who’s disengaged from college and fraternity life, and is busy with a career and family, what’s an email inviting you to a Founder’s Day event going to do?
The answer to that is probably nothing.
Not that you can’t write effective alumni publications. Yet these publications work only when you forge relationships to reinforce them.
Alumni—and people in general—won’t engage with a wall of information and solicitations for donations.
They engage with what they find valuable in their lives.
That can, and should, be you.
But how do you do that? How do you reach through and reconnect with past generations of brothers? What’s this magnetic appeal you have as an alumnus?
Pennington & Company proudly helps bring alumni together each and every day. But we wouldn’t exist without you.
Our simple secret is this: Fraternity Engagement Comes Down to You.
Alumni Organizations and Fraternity Chapters Engage Differently
The first thing to understand about alumni organizations is that they are not the graduate equivalent of your undergrad chapter.
When you were a carefree twenty-something, you had different priorities and fewer responsibilities. You learned about brotherhood and how to be a good fraternity man, but in all honesty, you weren’t nearly as responsible and knowledgeable as you are now.
You just don’t share the same priorities with a college freshman.
You’ve got your own mortgage.
You’re in the alumni housing corporation, so instead of trashing the chapter house, you’re helping look after the property and its expenses.
With a few exceptions, most alumni have grown beyond their days of spending 24/7 at the campus gym and cramming for exams last minute.
When you engage your fellow alumni, especially when you’re targeting them to volunteer for alumni organizations, don’t try the same old tactics that used to work in undergrad.
If joining just sounds like a lot of horsing around, they may not see the value in it.
Instead, get real with them about the kinds of accomplishments you can achieve together to better the fraternity, at the chapter level and nationally.
How does volunteering with an alumni group better them as career-driven adults?
Are these opportunities resume builders?
If nothing else, help fellow alumni understand how, as graduates, you can give back so much more to the chapter that gave you everything—that gave you brotherhood.
K.I.T. (Keep in Touch)
This may seem basic, but you’d be surprised how many alumni skip over personal contact with one another, lose touch, and only send an occasional note asking for money.
Yet those same alumni are surprised when they fall short of capital campaign fundraising goals.
Sometimes you get so wrapped up in the official needs of the chapter that you forget to maintain personal relationships.
Think about this from your point of view. When the undergrads ignore you all year, except when they need a fundraising gift, how does that make you feel?
That approach probably doesn’t make you very motivated to give, does it?
The undergrads must learn the tough lesson that the foundation of engagement is people.
Make sure you learn this, too.
Keep in touch with the brothers you were once close with as undergrads. Try each semester to look up an alumnus you weren’t as close with, or someone from another pledge class, and connect.
When you do this, it may not have an immediate impact on fraternity engagement.
But trust us, without personal communication and camaraderie, your engagement efforts are dead in the water.
Alumni who feel engaged on a personal level will be more willing to volunteer and donate to annual fundraisers as time goes on.
You can be a crucial link between the chapter and an alumnus who would’ve otherwise completely lost touch with his fraternal bonds.
The best part? Making those connections is sure to motivate you to engage more, too.
Better Fraternity Engagement Is Hands-On for Some, a Lighter Touch for Others
So now you’ve reconnected with your fellow alumni, you’re a shining example of engagement—but now what?
If you don’t understand that each alumnus has his own individual needs and level of comfortable engagement, you’re going to lose them as quickly as you gain them.
Some alumni won’t be motivated by short-term volunteer tasks or low-priority chapter fundraising projects. They just don’t to commit to engagement unless it’s a major task that has a high impact on the chapter’s success.
In other words, they don’t want to feel like they’re wasting their time.
Other alumni live far away, are super busy, or have other reasons that they just can’t commit to long-term volunteering or heavy fundraising.
They’re more suited for short-term goals and projects.
Make sure you know which alumni are better suited to these different tasks to yield the best, most sustained engagement possible.
And make sure all alumni know their options, volunteering nationally and on the chapter level, as well as different levels of alumni fundraising gift options.
When it comes down to it, engagement may seem like a team sport, but your most important interactions almost always end up being one-on-one.
Getting alumni interested in volunteer organizations like the housing corporation, or a chapter advisory board, can be a great boost. But you can’t do this without connecting and building meaningful relationships first. Finally, you must determine where everyone fits in the world of fraternity engagement.
Have thoughts or questions about how alumni can foster effective fraternity engagement? Let us know in the comments below.