Gather a core group of interested alumni, parents, and friends representing a broad spectrum of graduating classes and generations. Once you have established a local initiative, follow the steps below.
- Contact the Alumni Relations Office to obtain a current list of alumni and parents in your area. The School can provide you with lists containing addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. Ask questions, bounce around ideas, brainstorm with the experts. We can help you create a timeline of attainable goals.
- Plan to speak with presidents of the established clubs. The club presidents have worked with the Alumni Relations Office and they will help you understand the time commitment and energy it takes to establish a new club. Presidents will also be able to give you tips on effective leadership.
- Draft a letter and questionnaire to identify local interests, resources, and potential members. We have a sample questionnaire that you may use. The Alumni Office will mail your questionnaire to alumni in your area. Some clubs have sent their questionnaires via e-mail. You can have the replies sent directly to you or back to the Alumni Relations Office.
- Ask for volunteers to help organize the club. Form a Steering Committee composed of 6-12 alumni and parents. It is important to have diverse representation, which will appeal to a broad spectrum of alumni – this will encourage greater involvement and a higher level of participation and commitment.
- Schedule a planning meeting with the new Steering Committee to determine the club's calendar and goals for the upcoming year. Make sure to ask your group the following questions: 1) Who is your audience? 2) What are your main goals? 3) How active do you want the Club to be? In this meeting, begin to outline the areas of responsibility. Define key volunteer roles and positions and outline the expected commitments. Plan to elect a president, vice president, and secretary by vote at the next meeting.
- Keep your Steering Committee and constituency informed of plans, meetings, and events. Some effective tools are an email newsletter, a yearly newsletter, and a phone tree. Make everyone feel included.
Plan ahead. Give yourself and the School plenty of time. In June or July, hold a Steering Committee meeting that will allow you and your team to discuss the events you would like to host during the upcoming year. In your first year, you should try to hold one successful event. In the second year, try for two. Remember, it is better to have quality over quantity.
Consider the basics: the location, date and time, faculty and administration presence, guest speakers. Direct the volunteers' energy toward that goal.
Three Months before the event
Select a facility. Does the desired location suit your purpose? Is it convenient? Is it available for the desired date? Is it a private club that requires a sponsor? Is it cost effective? Is there nearby mass transit? Is parking nearby? Think about the type of weather you can expect. For example, our Philadelphia Club reserved the Union League nearly three months before its alumni reception. Our Northern California Club purchased tickets six months before a picnic and ballgame in the San Francisco Giants new ballpark.
Ten weeks before the event
Tell the Alumni Office what decisions the club has made concerning the venue and the type of event. Include as much detail as possible (associated costs, menu, caterer name, etc.).
Eight weeks before the event
Design the invitation, or send the information to the Alumni Office and we will design it. We need a date, time, location, RSVP info, directions, and parking info. Confirm reservations and arrangements with the host, sponsor, restaurant, caterer, etc. Get a copy of the contract for the facility and fax it to the Alumni Office.
Five to six weeks before the event
The Alumni Office sends the final proof to the printer. Invitations mailed from the Alumni Office.
Three weeks before the event
Encourage attendance. Call, write personal notes, and send e-mail.
One week before event
Make final arrangements. Check details such as nametags, banners, cups, and other Lawrenceville items. Confirm menu with host or caterer. Confirm if podium and microphone are necessary.
Attend and enjoy! Get an accurate list of those who attended. Take pictures for the Lawrentian magazine. Make a pitch for volunteers. Get phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Day after event
Complete final accounting. Send attendance list to Alumni Office.
Within 1 week after
Send thank you notes to sponsors and volunteers. Send article and pictures to the Alumni Office for the Lawrentian.
Who do you want to attend your gathering? In addition to the usual crowd, consider new students, parents of current and past students, recent graduates, and area college students.
Want to have a party? How about at an alum's house, a gallery/museum, a restaurant, a brewpub, an auction house, a ski resort, a ballpark, or a garden? What about a harbor cruise, the theater or opera, hiking, wine-tasting, a whale watch, a TV taping, a fun run, community service, or a day at the beach?
Don't forget to support current Lawrenceville student teams! Alumni clubs in the Philadelphia, New York, and Boston areas can schedule an event around a Lawrenceville athletic contest. Our teams play many schools in New England, suburban New York City, and the Philadelphia area. Check out the athletic schedules on the School web site. For example, you can have a cookout or tailgate party and support our field hockey team when they battle Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania, or you can cheer on our football team as they compete against The Taft School in Connecticut.
Try to schedule events at convenient times. Saturdays and Sundays are often good choices. It is easier to get childcare on weekends and there are fewer schedule conflicts. Weekday evenings often find parents shuttling kids to scout meetings, religious education, music lessons, and athletic team practices and games. On a weekday evening when our alumni must juggle a business schedule, commuting, and their children's schedules it is nearly impossible for them to attend an alumni gathering.
If scheduling a cocktail reception in a city, think of access to mass transit, proximity to the business district, parking, and the time. Our list of suggestions could go on forever. Give us a call and we can talk about your alumni club's plans.