Connection Chair Information
Even during the current pandemic environment, volunteers are still invaluable in helping plan, implement, and evaluate virtual activities that strengthen the relationship between alumni and the College. Your efforts, in concert with the Alumni & Parent Engagement staff, make these meaningful opportunities possible. If you are interested in becoming an event organizer, or if you have any suggestions for additional resources that would be helpful to you, please contact Geoff Semenuk, associate director of Alumni & Parent Engagement, at email@example.com or (610) 328-8453.
Connection Chair Goals
- Plan and hold at least two virtual or hopefully in-person events per year, engaging alumni of diverse ages and interests. If you feel you are unable to hold two events per year, let us know and help us find another alum who can help us reach this goal. Many cities have a Connection chair who represents a small committee that meets at least once a year to map out events.
- Keep a list of attendees and share that info with Alumni & Parent Engagement for planning purposes.
- Serve as a regional resource and contact for Alumni & Parent Engagement, Admissions, and other offices at the College.
- Coordinate with other volunteers who wish to organize Connection events in your area.
Types of Events
Opportunities to connect or reconnect with the Swarthmore College alumni community are only limited by volunteer's imaginations. You are free to plan almost any sort of get together you wish, as long as there is a reasonable chance of attracting a fair number of participants. Connection events are volunteer in nature and as such, any budget needed must be generated by the participants (i.e. pay-as-you-go).
As of now, in the spring ans summer of 2020, we are trying to imagine virtual ways of connections the alumni body, if you have any ideas that might work, please contact Geoff Semenuk in the Alumni Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the non-social distancing months to come, the following categories reflect the most popular events held by regional connections:
- Art museum or gallery tour with alumnus/a artist
- Backyard or park potluck picnics or dinners
- Young alumni happy hour
- Dinner/lunch with featured speaker/guest (local noteworthy alum)
- Play or performance with alumni/professor talk-back
- Arboretum or park tour
- Hiking, canoeing, or bicycling
- Career networking happy hour or dinner
- Wine tasting or winery visit
- Historic site tour
- Baseball or hockey game
- Music event or movie meet-up
What Encourages People to Attend Events?
- Something unique, such as an attraction usually unavailable to the public or a behind-the-scenes tour
- The opportunity to see friends, network, and meet College faculty or administrators
- Right place, right time, and right price
- Taking part in a well-attended annual regional event with an alumni group (wine festivals, annual concerts, etc.)
Alumni & Parent Engagement Support
To assist you in organizing your connection and in planning and implementing connection activities, Alumni & Parent Engagement will:
- Email and/or paper mail event invitations, announcements, or requests for volunteers to everyone in your region
- Provide updated alumni contact lists, including names and addresses of alumni and parents who have expressed an interest in hosting and/or assisting with events in your targeted area
- Help plan and evaluate events, and also guide organizers to area alumni who have expressed interest in planning events
- Post your event to the Alumni Resources and Events website, and submit follow-up information to the Swarthmore College Bulletin
- Handle deposits and process bills
- Hold yearly leadership weekends at Swarthmore College for training and to provide updates on key College priorities
- Serve as a liaison between the Connection and other College departments
- Offer free advice. We’ve been helping Connections chairs plan events for many years, and we will be happy to share our expertise!
Event Planning Details
- Breaking Even: The event must pay for itself, so keep costs in mind.
- Select a date and time that works best for people.
- Always allow for about four weeks ahead. This allows for proper event execution and improves attendance.
- Check with the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office to make sure no other events are planned for your area on that same date.
- Reserve event location, and ask for a confirmation of all details in writing. Visit the site, if possible, or ask about directions, parking, handicapped access, restrooms and rain plans (if outdoors). If you need audio/visual equipment, determine costs, and make arrangements. Some locations will allow you to bring your own equipment, but others will not.
- With as much lead time as possible, contact Geoff Semenuk in the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office at email@example.com or (610) 328-8453. Note: In non-pandemic times, a month's notice is best, but the difficult times dictate compressed timelines. Provide the event details so the invitation can be created, emailed, or mailed through the postal system.
- The invitation should indicate an explanation of the event, date and time, place, price (discounts, if any), contact person and phone number, registration deadline and contact name, details regarding admission to the event, directions, and parking information.
- Determine the size of the mailing list with the Geoff (i.e., all alumni, young alumni only, parents and students only, affinity group, prospective students and parents, or specific geographic area). The Alumni & Parent Engagement Office will mail the invitation four weeks prior to the event. Four seems to be the optimal amount of notice for an event. Five works but people seem to “table” the invite for a future decision, three also works but people often already have plans made.
- Arrive early to check on all arrangements.
- Assign someone to greet people and collect late registrations, take attendance, etc. or if necessary please do this yourself.
- Remember, enjoy the event!
- Send a list of attendees to the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office.
- Send checks to the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office, if you pre-arranged for Swarthmore to pay the bills.
- Send thank you notes to participants, if appropriate.
- Review event with Connections planning group. What worked? What did not?
- If you incurred expenses, please send your receipts to the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office.
In between events you might want to send a message out to alumni, parents, and friends in your Connection region. If you would like to so, please contact Geoff Semenuk in the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office.