Filling your chapter’s calendar with events doesn’t have to be hard once you have a starting point. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little inspiration. I’ve come up with a starter list of those categories and some ideas in this week’s blog but the sky’s the limit. Get prepared to make this year’s calendar the best ever!
Before You Get Started
I always recommend that you first sit down with your chapter’s calendar and sketch out your year. Here’s a template you can use if you don’t have one already (or get more ideas about planning in this post Plan Your Chapter’s Events).
As you plan consider things like:
- what size club do you have?
- what’s your demographic and what kinds of events will bring them out?
- who will help plan events?
- how many volunteers will be needed to work the events?
You’ll want to keep your events scaled to a size that makes sense for your alumni and volunteer base. Remember, you want these events to be fun for everyone!
Find Interesting Things To Do Locally
This is one of my favorite categories. You will like have a few volunteers who are in the know about unique things happening in your town. They always seem to know where to go and what to do. Some fun local things are:
- Exhibits at museums or universities
- Plays or concerts
- Tours of venues, monuments or special features of your city
- Outdoor events like theme parks or hiking trails
The idea with events like this is that you can usually obtain group rates which will lower the cost for your alumni AND they’ll get to do a fun thing with the whole family.
Group Sports Outings
Do you have a sports team in your town? Football, hockey, basketball, baseball? These can be fun events to add to your schedule that don’t require a lot of coordination. Reach out to the team’s Group Sales contact in their ticket office and offer a block of tickets. Have the Sales office handle ticket sales and distribution and this can be an easy event to manage. You just handle the communication and marketing!
Want to take a road trip to a game? Check out my 3-part series on planning a chapter road trip.
Service events can be a great way to bring your alumni together for a common purpose. Lots of organizations in your community will have activities that can be performed by a group of people. Reach out to your local food bank, facilities serving special needs individuals, or organizations that support at-risk youth or families. Many clubs tie in these service events with holidays or university-related activities but having some throughout the year can build a “community” within your chapter and give alumni who want to serve opportunities throughout the year to do so. This can also be a great way for high school kids to get the service hours needed for their college applications as well.
Social and Networking Events
Whether it’s a happy hour with other alumni clubs or a tour of a local business, these kinds of events can draw in alumni young and old who want to connect with other alumni in a more social or professional setting. These events can go from very structured, pricey events such as a luncheon with a speaker to something more casual like happy hour at a local brewery. The idea is simply to get alumni out to meet others. For these events remember to use name tags and have a place for people to leave their business cards.
I’m always amazed at the creativity in event planning alumni chapters have. Here are some ideas for other types of events you might consider:
- Exclusive access opportunities – get a private tour of a venue or have reserved access to event that may not be open to the general public. Note: check your alumni directory to see if you have an alum on the inside who can help you plan this event.
- University speakers and writers – work with your university to bring a speaker to your city or get first dibs on an alum’s book tour in your town. Many times the university will underwrite the cost of the speaker’s travel.
- Art events and classes – who doesn’t love those wine and paint evenings or other kinds of classes like a penmanship party or a pottery class? Make it even more fun by creating something that is unique to your university such as a beloved landmark or its motto.
- Family friendly and pet friendly events – alumni love to get the kiddos and pets involved in their school spirit so why not look for things to do that can involve the whole family? From my experience, these are always some of the best attended events.
- Seasonal events – every city has fun things to do that are season specific – an outdoor concert or movie in the summer, a fall beer or food festival, a berry picking day in spring. Check your local “things to do” blog for more ideas.
Remember that your club is the face of your university in your community. Focus on events that promote that mission. Tying your event calendar into that mission will ensure that your events are fun, inclusive and representative of your university.