Best Practices in Alumni Relations
Does your council have an alumni relations program in place? If not, it is better late than never to start one. Alumni members have fond memories of their time as college Knights and they are proud of their association with your council. That is why many active members choose to stay in college councils. This goodwill is an asset to you as a council leader, even if alumni have transferred into parish councils. Keep alumni informed and engaged and you can leverage these relationships in support of the present year’s programs and activities.
Starting an e-newsletter is one way to keep alumni informed about your council. Keep alumni in mind when you have a strong recruitment drive, when you do praiseworthy service activities and when you receive any type of recognition. Awards won at the state and Supreme Council levels, such as the Outstanding College Council Award, are also noteworthy. Try to paint an accurate picture of the state of the council. If they understand your goals and challenges, and how they can help you, they are more likely to provide financial support and/or to give of their time.
Events are another tool in your alumni relations toolkit. You can invite alumni to regular council events, especially if they live close by. Special events for alumni, such as an alumni banquet, can attract those from outside of the area as well. A special event might feature a speaking program highlighting one of your partners in service to the Church and/or local community. It can be an opportunity for alumni members to connect with influential professors, administrators or campus ministers whom you can invite. You can also use the event to recognize council leaders from previous years.
Homecomings and reunions, when alumni are already planning to be on campus, are also opportune times to connect. Consider scheduling Knights of Columbus meet-and-greets during these weekends. Find times that do not conflict with major sporting events or other events that are a part of the program. Be sure to get the word out not only through the council but also through college and university channels, such as their alumni office. This is essential for those alumni who transferred to parish councils and are no longer on your council roster.
Once you have kept alumni informed and engaged through an effective newsletters and invited them to your council’s events, do not hesitate to ask for financial support! Former college Knights whose experiences in college councils were formative can be generous donors. Your college or university is not shy about asking for help, nor should you be. If you do receive contributions, be sure to keep a record of it, provide a receipt and – most importantly – send a thank-you note. Follow these steps and you are on your way to alumni relations success.