MANAGING SPECIAL EVENTS
A. Writing An Annual Plan
Chapters that sponsor successful and enjoyable events and
programs begin with good, solid long-range planning. Successful
planning begins many months or even a year in advance of
meetings and activities.
Each summer, the newly elected officers and chairpersons
should take time to develop a complete yearly calendar of
chapter / club meetings, events, gatherings and service projects.
A chapter / club plan should allow for a variety of activities which
will appeal to a broad range of alumni - from alumni who have
celebrated their 50th reunion to the most recent graduates, from
the Dawg sports fan to the individual more interested in the
university's academic and research programs. Chapters and
clubs should be careful not to let one aspect of the university
dominate its annual schedule of activities.
A written plan will serve as a helpful guideline for your chapter /
club. It also allows the alumni staff to plan more effectively for
speakers and any other campus resources events may require
as well as help market activities better. Take time to review the
chapter / club annual plan at least once a month to monitor
progress. Make certain the chapter /club is meeting its goals and
objectives and is adhering to the “Standards of Excellence.” Always
keep in mind the eight/ten week lead-time needed to process
requests for chapter / club newsletters, announcements and
invitations. A ten week lead-time is required for a limited number
of chapters / clubs where timely postal delivery is not as reliable.
Changes to a chapter / club annual plan need to be
communicated to the Alumni Association staff.
Helpful Long-Range Planning Tips
• Be realistic - do not plan events just to fill up a calendar.
Several quality, well-attended events are much better than
many haphazard or ill-planned activities.
• Consider budgetary requirements for all chapter /club
expenses. All chapter events should be self-sustaining.
• Emphasize traditional events that the chapter /club has
successfully sponsored in the past.
• Admissions programs should be coordinated with the
Admissions Office staff. Refer to the Admissions section of this
• Take time to "brainstorm" and consider new ideas for events
• Fellowship is important - everyone enjoys a fun time. Service is
more important and requires ample attention.
B. Tips On Successful Alumni Programming
Meet deadlines and follow timelines.
Set your calendar a year in advance and share it with the
Take advantage of every opportunity to promote your event.
Publicize your event through mail, phone calls, email, Internet,
and local media.
Vary your schedule to include formal and informal programs,
as well as activities that encourage family participation.
Involve new people through special events or invitations.
Chapter / club leaders should be sure to introduce themselves
to new guests.
Provide opportunities for alumni to meet each other (wear
nametags, etc). If they establish friendships at the first event,
they’re likely to attend future programs.
Have board members actively participate in programs by
meeting people, working the registration desk, etc.
Avoid “open” or “hosted” bars. Never serve alcohol at an event
where minors are the majority audience. Review the Alcohol
Policy and adhere to it.
Be conscious of guests’ special needs, such as access to
meeting facilities, dietary restrictions, etc.
Visit your meeting site in advance to learn directions,
audio/visual systems, parking, etc.
Display signs directing guests from all entrances to the
Thank special guests and volunteers for their service.
Have at hand a list of all who have responded, especially
when they have paid in advance. All event mailings should
have a response mechanism.
Have a sign-in sheet with space for name, class year,
address, email address and phone number. This greatly
facilitates the record-keeping and accuracy of the chapter /
club mailing list. Be sure to send copies of the sign-in sheets to
the Association after the event.
Keep all comments and announcements to a minimum
following a guest speaker or performer. Also try to schedule
the speaker or performer near the middle of the program, so
that people will have ample opportunity to leisurely socialize
and meet the individual(s). Often, an event becomes livelier
after some “food for thought” or interesting news from UGA.
Follow-up any guest speaker’s visit with a thank you. Faculty
and other guests are not paid for their time, they volunteer to
attend the chapter / club event. Much like the famous job
interview maxim, speakers receive hundreds of invitations and
requests, but they receive few notes or tokens of appreciation
after the event. Your note of thanks will set you apart as being
Plan your business meetings around a dinner or casual event
to encourage attendance.
Have Association Membership forms available and encourage
people to join.
After each function, complete the After Event form and send it
in to the Alumni Association.
C. Keys To A Well-Planned Event
The success of any chapter / club event greatly depends upon
effective and timely planning. Many popular activities have been
undertaken by chapters / clubs who did not plan properly,
resulting in a less than successful event and disappointed
alumni. Following are some tips to help you avoid such results.
• Employ the time and talent of people who will work
enthusiastically and effectively to take the plan and develop it
into an event.
The same degree of attention should be given to an event for
ten people as to an event for a group of one hundred people.
Plan a year of events at one board meeting. This will allow the
chapter / club to effectively coordinate, publicize and execute
events. Planning this far in advance is necessary when trying
to establish a reasonably accurate budget and schedule of
meetings. Planning a year in advance is beneficial to the
Alumni Association as well in terms of allowing enough time to
market events, secure speakers or performers and more.
Study the demographic material supplied by the Alumni
Association and use that information to assist you in planning
a well-rounded year of events.
Diversify your events.
Maximize Attendance: High attendance is essential to a good
chapter / club event. It is the organization’s responsibility to
take the necessary steps to ensure maximum attendance with
consideration to the chapter / club membership, the visiting
speaker(s), and financial considerations. Establishing a phone
committee can prove critical to your success. Mailings do not
ensure attendance. A phone call can always help remind
someone of the upcoming event and help you personally
touch each of your members. Remember to ask the person
that you are speaking with to call someone else and invite
them to attend as well.
D. Program Diversity
Your programming calendar should include events as diverse as
the alumni in your chapter / club area. While you probably have
certain events that people look forward to each year (Game
Watching Parties, Holiday Social, etc.), it is also important to
incorporate exciting new events which appeal to the various
members of the chapter / club. The only limitation is your own
E. Chapter & Club Telephone Network
Of all of the recommended organizational ideas in this handbook,
the establishment of a telephone network is the most important.
Our experience has shown that chapters cannot rely on direct
mail and e-mail alone and expect the best response from their
alumni. Personal contact is the most effective way to persuade
another person to do something, whether to give money, to
support group goals and objectives, or simply to participate in
Since face-to-face personal contact is not always feasible in
communicating with chapter members, the telephone has proven
to be the next best alternative. Getting information to members
and obtaining their responses by telephone is quicker than the
mail, and the personal touch of direct conversation has been
shown to be the best method to increase attendance at events
and ensure support for other chapter and university activities.
Having a current phone network in place can be invaluable to
chapter leaders, chapter members, and to the university. If
chapters wish to conduct an event with short notice, and there is
not sufficient lead time to mail a notice, the phone is an excellent
way of spreading the word. When alumni support is needed for
important legislative issues on short notice, the phone network is
The Alumni Association recommends that a Network
Chairperson be selected. That person should contact the
chapter's Alumni Association staff liaison and request an
alphabetical roster by zip code of all names, addresses, and
phone numbers of alumni in the chapter. The roster will show
that, in most cases, geographic boundaries of chapters do not
require long-distance calls between members.
The Network Chairperson should select 11-21 names from the
alphabetical roster, call the top person on that short list and ask
them to serve as the Principal Caller for that short list, and mail
everyone in that group a copy of that short list. Continue the
process: divide the entire master roster into short lists; identify a
Principal Caller for each short list; make sure each member has
received a copy of the appropriate short list. (When the number
of short lists is extensive, the phone chair may need to recruit
Network Assistants to help make the initial contacts with
We are sure you will find the telephone network invaluable for
improving communications with chapter members. When contact
with chapter members is necessary, the chairperson need only
relay the current message to the Principal Callers (or to the
Network Assistants) and request that they contact the other
members on their lists. If the chairperson cannot reach a
principal caller, the chairperson can recruit a temporary principal
caller to contact that particular short list with the current
1. The Telephone Chairperson selects Principal Callers (Callers
1-10 on diagram), and assigns each Caller people to call.
2. The Telephone Chairperson gives each Caller the current
3. Callers phone their assigned people and record a response
4. Callers give the responses to the Telephone Chairperson, who
gives the information to the people who need it.
F. EVENT TIMELINE
The Association’s guideline to planning and publicizing an event
is provided below. Using the timetable and procedures will help
ensure the success of your programs. (A July 1-June 30 fiscal
year is recommended so that the chapter is in accordance with
the Association’s fiscal year.)
Six Months Before the Event - A planning team should be
assembled. This team will be responsible for the following
1. Location - A site should be secured for the event. Events and
event sites are to be open to all alumni. Chapter / club events
shall be held in a venue where alumni of any sex, race, creed,
color, religious affiliation or sexual orientation are welcome.
2. Meals - Arrangements should also be made for catering
services required. When appropriate, menu choices, a
contract and price quotes should be obtained. Decide who will
prepare and serve food and beverages. Consider the type of
event and the cost associated. Take into consideration the
dietary needs of your audience and offer a variety of food.
3. Invitations - Any special needs such as invitations, special
guest lists, etc. must be communicated
to the Alumni Association. The Association will bear the cost
of printing and production.
4. Contracts – Contracts associated with events can only be
signed by the Alumni Association.
Eight Weeks Before the Event –
1. Provide all details about the event to the Alumni
Association. Complete information should include the date, time,
location and cost of the event as well as an RSVP deadline,
RSVP contact name and address, directions to the event and
specifics about what is included in the cost of the event.
2. Upon receipt by the Alumni Association the information
will be formatted for an invitation, with appropriate graphics and
text added to conform to the chapter / club’s wishes and the
Association’s requirements. The event will also be posted on the
appropriate web sites and marketed in accordingly.
Seven Weeks Before the Event – A draft of the invitation will be
sent to the chapter /club representative for review and approval.
Changes must be communicated immediately to the staff liaison
to allow adequate time for corrections and production. Limiting
the number of design and information changes at this stage will
greatly expedite the process for the chapter. Chapters / clubs
that require more than three drafts will likely experience delays in
the schedule described here.
Six Weeks Before the Event - With all final changes made, the
newsletter or invitation will be finalized and produced.
Four to Five Weeks Before the Event -
1. The invitation will be mailed to the appropriate mailing
group. Timing for the mailing will depend upon the mailing option
(1st, 3rd class) used.
2. The UGA Alumni Association will be prepared to start
receiving RSVPs for this well-planned event.
Three to Two Weeks Before the Event - The Telephone
Committee should begin calling area alumni to personally invite
them to the event and answer any questions that they may have.
Three - five days from event date
1. Determine final guest count for caterer/site etc.
2. Determine how many “walk-ups” can be accommodated
Day before the event
1. Pull together all the materials needed for the event (scissors,
banners, tape, nametags, pens, door prizes, raffle tickets,
registration lists, sign-in sheets, Membership Forms, etc.).
2. Make one last mental run-through of the event
Day of the Event - Arrive at your event at least one hour early to
check and prepare the room. Remember to bring your chapter /
club signage, nametags, attendance lists, Membership forms,
pens, sign-in sheets, address update sheets, etc. Be on the
lookout for new volunteers, greet guests as they arrive and take
Since the event was so well publicized and planned, relax
and prepare to have a great time with fellow alumni.
After the Event – Complete the Event Evaluation form and return it
to the Alumni Association. This is very important for historical
and record keeping purposes. The form can be found online
under Chapter / Club Resources on the Alumni Association Web
site. Also send in a copy of the sign-in sheets so the Alumni
Association can track who is attending events. Send thank you
notes to speakers, special guests or sponsors. Hold a debriefing
meeting with your committee, make and keep notes for the