Create a Vision
- Review your vision for change. Creating an engaging and ongoing community can be crucial for the long-term success of your mission. To determine whether and to what degree alumni programming is compatible with your objectives, you must reflect on your theory of change: the particular set of processes you believe will best enable you to achieve your desired social change. If you hope to inspire individuals to pursue a particular mission after the completion of your program or event, then investing in alumni programming is essential to achieving that objective.
- Clarify your purpose. Once you conclude that maintaining a strong alumni community is an important component of your theory of change, clarify the particular purpose your alumni community will serve. Many organizations focus on alumni engagement to expand their reach and foster alumni’s continued growth. Ideally, your strategy will utilize programming that sits at the cross-section of these two goals. Not only will this approach increase your overall impact, but by empowering your alumni to take action, they will be more willing to give back to your community through time, talent and financial support.
- Set the stage for developing a strategic plan. After clarifying the purpose of your alumni community, you will need to develop a strategic plan outlining your vision for alumni programming and your approach to making it happen. You may want to establish an internal taskforce, drawing on the alumni themselves to help set the alumni vision. If you choose this course, be sure to convene groups around specific questions, challenges and decisions, rather than abstract goals. It may be best to recruit individuals to a short-term, time- and task-based committee, rather than create a formal management structure for your alumni community. For more on how to engage your alumni, see Best Practice #2: Get to Know Your Alumni.