Alumnae give. And they give. And they give. And . . .
You get the picture.
One of the most valuable lessons you can learn as a sorority sister is that your life as a woman representing your letters does not end on graduation day. Far from it! You, too, will one day be an alumna. You, too, will one day be called upon to give back to the chapter that gave you so much.
But in the meantime, you and your sisters are still learning and growing, paying dues and somehow managing to balance your sorority responsibilities and college lives.
While your sorority chapter is a self-contained ecosystem in a lot of ways, managing a sorority’s finances sometimes means knowing when you need help. Often, with bigger projects like building or renovating a chapter house, or other large-scale projects, this means turning to alumnae.
Imagine, if you will, that you’ve collected tens of thousands of dollars from alumnae, maybe with some help from the fundraising specialists at Pennington & Company. (Hey, this is our fantasy, after all!) The house has undergone massive renovations--a new wing with state of the art study rooms and a massive chapter room with bay windows overlooking a nearby campus lake. The lawn has been landscaped. Some of the history from the house remains, such as an ancient brick fireplace in the common area. But mostly everything is state of the art now, a much needed update from the early 1900s house that hasn’t undergone a renovation in decades.
You know you wouldn’t have any of this without alumnae. But how do you show your thanks when they step through that freshly-painted front door?
Luckily, we here at Pennington & Company love alumnae as much as you do. Thus, we’re happy to teach you the language of thanks so you can say, Mi Casa Es Su Casa: Making Alumnae Feel Welcome in Your Sorority House.
Make Alumnae Legends among Mortals
Especially if alumnae are local, one of the first and most crucial steps to endear a stronger relationship is to make sure every new member gets to meet and speak with as many alumnae as possible. Likewise, alumnae who stay in the area likely want to take an interest in the fresh faces of their old stomping grounds, and this will show them you appreciate them making that effort.
Invite alumnae to events like Founders Day and to a chapter meeting once in a while. Hold a fancy dinner or two at the house in their honor. Fill the generational divide with honest to goodness real relationships. And if some live at a distance and can’t visit too often, keep in touch with sorority communication software for alumnae.
You might also include alumnae in the recruitment process, which is easily done even if they can’t meet potential new members. How, you ask? Let us tell you! Bidlily and Select-a-Sis make it easy for you to share info on potential new members and rank them. And if alumnae have the time and ability to hit up some recruitment events or sit down interviews, all the better.
In other words, your relationship with alumnae doesn’t begin and end with the time it takes for them to write a check. They give because they care, and caring means spending time together.
Make Alumnae the Faces You Look Up To, Every Day
We mean this literally. Let us explain what we mean.
The walls of your shiny new sorority house are likely adorned with regal black and white photographs of your sorority’s founding women, those early pioneers who made a name for themselves and, ultimately, for you.
But what about alumnae? The founders are the founders, sure. But your alumnae literally helped build the walls on which their pictures, and yours, hang. Ask those who donated to send pictures to hang with plaques honoring their contributions, or old composites from their time in the chapter. Or better yet, hold some kind of groundbreaking event with them in attendance (if distance permits), and snap a group photo with you all in hardhats holding shovels.
Hang the picture loud and proud by the front entrance. When they walk in that door, they’ll see just how much they mean to you.
If nothing else, engrave their names in the bricks their contributions helped lay. And thank them, thank them, thank them. Recognize their giving online and in your chapter newsletter, and say thank you in person when next you invite them into your beautiful sorority house.
Make Sure Alumnae Know that Your House Is Theirs, Too
Okay, so alumnae didn’t contribute to your fundraising campaign so they could hold it over your head and crash on the couch in your sorority house’s common area.
We presume alumnae have lives and families and careers of their own. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t welcome in your sorority house, and it’s your job to make alumnae feel welcome. That can take a lot of different forms, but overall your goal is simply to be a gracious host.
Invite alumnae and their families to the house not only when events are going on, but when it’s more chill and there’s time to eat and talk and be merry together. Catch them up on what’s going on with the chapter, anything of note that’s happened since the last newsletter. Listen to their stories about the old days and take in their sage advice. Break bread and crack smiles. Fill the house with the laughter of your sorority’s sisters and alumnae alike.
And if they really do end up needing to crash on that couch, bring out the extra pillows and blankets and have the most epic sleepover ever there was.
These are some of what we feel are the best ways of Making Alumnae Feel Welcome in Your Sorority House. Tell us about some of the great times you’ve shared with alumnae in your sorority house in the comments below!