It’s crucial that sorority and fraternity chapters thank their alumni/ae for making their fundraising initiatives possible.
Whether you’re thanking them for supporting your national philanthropy initiatives or volunteering in the community, acknowledging the major role alumni/ae play in the chapter’s ongoing success is important. Simply saying “thank you” is the first step in a detailed appreciation cadence. Other strategies you can try include:
- Giving personalized “throwback” gifts
- Hosting exclusive alumni/ae events
- Creating alumni/ae awards
- Leveraging social media
Going the extra mile with your recognition tactics will motivate alumni/ae to continue supporting the chapter in the future.
1. Give personalized “throwback” gifts
For many of your alumni/ae, college was an exciting time when they built strong connections with their brothers or sisters. Evoke these fond memories and fortify your alumni/ae’s relationship with your organization by giving them “throwback” gifts, such as:
- Vintage chapter T-shirts. Many chapters have archives of old chapter branding, making it simple for you to revive limited-edition vintage T-shirts from years past.
- Varsityjacket patches and pins. Some alumni/ae still own and treasure their varsityjackets from college. Provide a patch so they can proudly represent their chapter’s brand. Consider offering branded pins so alumni/ae without a jacket can get in on the fun, too.
- Throwback photo calendar. Put a unique twist on the classic photo calendar by adding photos from specific graduating classes.
- Class rings. This high-end gift will delight your major alumni/ae donors and last a long time, symbolizing your endless gratitude for their support.
- Important items to your chapter. Every chapter has different traditions, so consider offering items that align with your unique identity.
2. Host exclusive alumni/ae events
Events provide valuable face time with donors while showing your appreciation for their generosity. Double the Donation’s guide to donor recognition suggests throwing the following recognition events:
- Homecoming appreciation mixer. Homecoming is the best opportunity to gather alumni/ae for a big celebration of their kindness. Invite your alumni/ae supporters to a party, complete with drinks, food, and entertainment to create a fun atmosphere. Throughout the celebration, express your gratitude verbally and individually to thank major donors to advance relationships.
- Lunch for alumni/ae donors. While a luncheon is more laid-back than a mixer, it provides more opportunities for one-on-one conversations with supporters, allowing you to understand their motivations for giving.
- Exclusive keynote speaker and panel events. One of the biggest reasons students join sororities and fraternities is the networking potential. Invite alumni/ae donors to attend a private panel with a noteworthy keynote speaker. You don’t have to have connections to famous people; simply ask accomplished alumni/ae to speak on a panel. Customize the questions to their expertise. No matter their field, your alumni/ae will find value in the panel presentation.
No matter which type of event you host, ensure that the costs of hosting it don’t negate your fundraising efforts. To strike the right balance, designate an appreciation event budget and stick to it.
3. Nominate your alumni/ae for national awards
Alumni/ae appreciate it when the chapter recognizes them with a special effort. Giving alumni/ae a memento helps them connect with your chapter and level up future contributions. Consider recognizing your most influential alumni/ae with these awards:
- Alumni/ae Hall of Fame Initiation
- Donor of the Month/Year
- Volunteer of the Month/Year
After you decide which awards make sense for your alumni/ae community, determine how frequently you’ll distribute them, how a winner will be chosen, what the criteria for winning are, and what prize you’ll provide to the winner. OmegaFi recommends working with your fellow chapter managers and alumni/ae board members to lay out a budget-friendly plan, accounting for nomination costs and travel stipends.
4. Leverage social media
While a classic hand-written thank-you card can seem more custom than online communications, digital outreach can be especially engaging with the right approach. Plus, current chapter members communicate often through social media and emails, and you can leverage their tech-savviness to make stellar digital appreciation messages. You can recognize your alumni online by:
- Producing a short video. Thanking alumni/ae with personalized videos detailing the impact of their contribution can put a face to your national philanthropic partner and make your message feel more genuine.
- Sending interactive digital cards. Your alumni/ae get hundreds of emails a week, but what if they received a colorful, custom-branded eCard thanking them for their donation? They’ll be much more likely to see (and appreciate!) the message.
- Writing social media posts. Recognizing your alumni/ae on social media allows them to share the praise with their own networks, bringing more attention to your cause.
- Creating an alumni/ae microsite. As the online information hub for your chapter, shouting out your alumni/ae on an “Alumni/ae Updates” microsite can inspire other alumni/ae to get involved.
When thanking alumni/ae publicly, whether in person or digitally, ensure that you have their permission to talk about them beforehand.
Alumni/ae are a crucial part of your chapter’s legacy remaining strong over time, and supporting your chapter on top of everything else in their life demonstrates a commitment and connection that is unique to fraternities and sororities. By showing your heartfelt gratitude for your alumni/ae, you can secure your financial future and help the generations to come!