Since the advent of social and mobile, alumni volunteers have increasingly become powerful resources to help schools uncover better constituent data, engage graduates, and to raise money. Part of building a successful alumni volunteer program relies on creating a handbook that can serve as a foundation for your volunteers. With the advantage of seeing a number of handbooks published by my own alma maters, teamed with my knowledge of a handful of successful programs at schools that I have worked with, here are 10 common elements of an awesome alumni volunteer handbook:
1. Show the Love
Alumni volunteers aren’t getting paid for their efforts. Thank them for being a part of the program and consider sending them some “swag” in their volunteer packet.
2. Inform Them
Let volunteers know what has been going on at campus and the current state of your fundraising efforts. Consider including current participation numbers and the amount of money raised.
3. Set Goals
Be transparent with your goals; lay out to volunteers exactly what your offices’ goals are going to be forward. (Ex. Our goal is to reach a %45 participation this year and increase our annual fund to $3.5 million.)
4. Compare Peer Schools
Share statistics on what your peer schools are doing and how you compare. Despite having graduated, passionate Alumni Volunteers still want their alma mater to outperform their rivals.
5. Identify Roles
Establish and outline what your volunteers’ responsibilities will include.
6. Provide Responses
If alumni volunteers are used for solicitation, provide them examples of ways to respond to any type of pushback that they may receive.
7. Ways to Give
Make sure volunteers know how their constituents can make donations. *Let them know the guidelines of handling sensitive information, if necessary.
8. Day-to-Day Promotion
Inform alumni volunteers of all the different social media platforms your office is using to engage your constituents. Encourage them to share posts, “Like” your pages, and spread their love of their alma mater through the social media they are using today.
9. Key Events
Notify of any events or donation deadlines that volunteers can forward to others.
10. Encourage Volunteer Donations
A goal of all volunteer programs should be to get all of your volunteers to personally donate. Stay in contact with them throughout the process and do periodic check ins. Also consider rewarding volunteers who are able to get the most participation and/or raise the most money. (Ex. gift cards to school store, recognition in the alumni magazine, etc)
If you decide to create an alumni volunteer handbook, or to improve your existing one, remember to have it cater to your advancement efforts, and needs. You know your alumni volunteers better than anyone, so create a handbook that will be well received by them!