Volunteer handbook for affinity programs



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VOLUNTEER HANDBOOK
FOR

AFFINITY



Programs





This handbook offers the necessary guidelines to start and sustain an affinity program with the University of Vermont Alumni Association


To request a new affinity program, please contact:

Regional Groups: Sarah Lenes, Assistant Director for Alumni Relations Special Interest Groups: Eileen Dudley, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

University of Vermont Foundation


at (888) 458-8691

AFFINITY PROGRAM HANDBOOK

A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR ALUMNI CLUBS & AFFINITY PROGRAMS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Part I – Introduction

A. What is the Affinity Program? 3

B. Why an Affinity Group? 3

C. What Affinity Groups Already Exist? 3


Part II – Starting an Alumni Affinity Group

A. How to Start an Alumni Group 4

B. Steps to Becoming an Alumni Group 5
Part III: Criteria and Requirements for Alumni Groups

A. Membership Requirement 6

B. Group’s Mission 6

C. Ongoing Requirements 6


Part IV: Criteria and Requirements for Alumni Clubs

A. Membership Requirement 8

B. Club's Mission 8

C. Governing Document 8

D. Ongoing Requirements 9
Part V: Benefits and Support

A. Funding 11

B. Advertising and Marketing 11

C. Event Collaboration 11

D. Use of Alumni House 11
Part VI: Resources

A. Resource Contact List 12

B. Advertising and Marketing 12

C. Tips For Hosting Successful Events 13

D. Fundraising and Membership 14

E. Forms 14

- Application/Recognition Form

- Founding Members Roster

- Constitution Guide

- Annual Report Template



PART I – INTRODUCTION

A. WHAT IS THE AFFINITY PROGRAM?

The affinity program offers opportunities for alumni of shared interests and common bonds to connect on meaningful levels beyond the traditional class and regional structure. Examples of these may include:


Student Activity Involvement ( Outing Club, Student Leaders, Cynic, WRUV)


Professional/Career Affiliation  ( Environmental, Legal, Entrepreneurs, Educators)
Identity-based groups ( example, ALANA, Greek, Hillel, LGBT)
Regional Programs ( San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Florida)
The University of Vermont (“UVM”) Alumni Association recognizes the importance of these special interests and encourages alumni to connect with others who share this common bond.

Affinity groups are formed in one of two ways:



  1. A group of UVM alumni take the initiative

  2. Based on current societal trends, the Alumni Association takes the initial steps to form a group and then seeks alumni volunteers.

This handbook provides further details on the differences between the types of affinity groups and the requirements for their establishment and ongoing support from the Alumni Association.


B. WHY HAVE AN AFFINITY PROGRAM?

An Affinity Program allows alumni to stay connected to UVM through shared interests or experiences, including student organizations, identity, and/or careers. Specifically, an affinity program:



  • Creates a medium through which alumni can reconnect with each other around shared experiences, interests, and identities;

  • Increases opportunities for alumni to get involved and meet other UVM alumni;

  • Promotes leadership;

  • Fosters a sense of community within the UVM alumni population; and

  • Supports a culture of philanthropy for the university.

C. WHAT AFFINITY GROUPS ALREADY EXIST?

Although recognition of the Alumni Affinity Program structure is new, alumni have gathered around special interests for many years in an ad hoc and informal basis. Often these gatherings were driven by key milestones, such as anniversaries, or by special events important to the community. The Affinity Program is designed to further cultivate and engage these communities beyond a single event or activity.



PART II – STARTING AN ALUMNI AFFINITY GROUP

A. HOW TO START AN ALUMNI AFFINITY GROUP

Affinity groups can fall into one of two initial designations depending upon the level of volunteer engagement and formal structure desired. The specific designation is chosen by the group’s founders and provides access to different levels of resource support.



  • An alumni affinity group is a cluster of alumni who share similar interests but would like to connect with each other in a less formal structure. Alumni groups have full access to all of the benefits outlined in Part V of this handbook.

  • An alumni affinity club, unlike an alumni group, must adhere to the criteria and requirements outlined in Part III of this handbook. Alumni clubs must adhere to the requirements in Part IV and have limited access to the benefits discussed in Part V of this handbook.

As alumni affinity clubs mature and grow in size and scope of engagement, they can apply for formal chapter and/or board designation from the UVM Alumni Association Board. The chart below outlines this organizational structure. Availability of funding is contingent upon resources available by the Alumni Association Board of Directors and will be distributed based on remaining funds. Constituents is defined as undergraduate UVM alumni, graduate UVM alumni, current UVM parents, past UVM parents and friends of UVM(attended a UVM event and/or donated to UVM). Information about this process can be requested by contacting the Office of Alumni Relations at the UVM Foundation.

B. STEPS TO BECOMING AN ALUMNI AFFINITY GROUP

1. INITIAL REQUEST

  • Check the alumni website at alumni.uvm.edu to ensure that the group you wish to create does not already exist.

  • Contact the Office of Alumni Relations to discuss your interest in starting a group based on a shared affinity (student organization, career interests, identity, etc.). Contact can be made via email or phone. All emails should be submitted to alumni@uvm.edu.
    Additional contact information can be found in Part VI: Resources.

2. INFORMATIONAL MEETING/CALL

  • A member of the UVM Alumni Relations team will contact the alumnus/alumna who made the initial request to discuss the proposed alumni group within three business days.

  • The discussion will include the individual’s relation to UVM; the group’s designation as a club or a group; number of other alumni who are interested in forming the group; the list of alumni associated with the proposed group, if applicable; affiliations with other organizations; ideas for events, and related student groups, etc.

3. SUBMISSION OF REQUIRED MATERIALS

  • After the follow-up meeting, the primary alumni contact will gather the necessary requirements depending on the group’s designation, and submit them to the Associate Director.

4. APPROVAL

  • Once all materials are received, the Affinity Committee of the Alumni Association and other office staff will review the documents and approve the organization for listing on the alumni association website. The reviews will take place during the first week of September, January and May.

5. ORIENTATION

  • Once approved, the designated leaders of the Affinity Group must complete an orientation session with a member of the UVM Alumni Relations staff and a member of the affinity committee of the Alumni Association Board.


PART III: CRITERIA AND REQUIREMENTS FOR ALUMNI GROUPS

In order to become a UVM affiliated alumni group, the group must be compliant with the criteria and requirements established by the UVM Office of Alumni Relations. Additionally, the group must adhere to all Alumni Relations standards in order to receive ongoing support and services.


A. MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENT

In order to initiate an alumni group, two individuals are needed to serve as the group leaders. To maintain an effective group, additional alumni members will be needed to serve as part of the group leadership. Various leadership positions can be initiated as more members are recruited into the club. The Office of Alumni Relations should be notified as new leadership positions are created.



B. GROUP’S MISSION

All alumni groups must have a written mission statement outlining the purpose of its existence. The mission statement will serve as a guide for future programming and events and inform alumni of the group’s direction. Each group’s purpose must be aligned with the general mission of the UVM Alumni Association to benefit the alumni community, and is subject to review and approval by the Office of Alumni Relations. Include Alumni Association mission here.



C. ONGOING REQUIREMENTS

To receive ongoing support, assistance, and services from the Office of Alumni Relations, the alumni group must adhere to the following requirements each year of its existence.



  1. PROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS:
    Plan and sponsor events designed to bring alumni together and recruit more members. Any program ideas that your group has should be discussed with the Office of Alumni Relations before planning begins. This will ensure that finances and staff are available for support.

  2. ANNUAL REPORT:
    An annual report must be submitted to the Office of Alumni Relations within the first month of every fiscal year the group is in existence (July 1 through June 30).
    The report must include:

    • The number and names of new alumni included in the group with school and degree information;

    • An updated membership list and names of leadership;

    • The number of activities that were conducted in the past year;

    • Any co-sponsorships with other groups/departments; and

    • (If applicable) A member acknowledgement section, recognizing promotions in the professional lives of members and other note-worthy accomplishments.

An annual report template can be found in Part VI of this handbook



  1. MEMBERSHIP MAINTENANCE:
    The group should actively recruit more alumni to be general members and serve in leadership positions. The Office of Alumni Relations must be updated whenever a leadership position is created or changed.

  2. AFFINITY GROUP PRINCIPLES OF PRACTICE:
    All groups will conduct their activities according to the following principles:

  • Accurately promote the overall mission of the University of Vermont and the UVM Alumni Association in a positive manner.

  • Promote a spirit of service to the University and alumni community.

  • Strive to strengthen the relationship between alumni and the University.

  • Actively engage the Office of Alumni Relations for planning communication and event planning guidance and support.

  • Accurately represent the interests of members and other constituents.

  • Create opportunities for diverse alumni participation in organization activities.

  • Encourage participation in the Alumni Association’s sustaining member program.

  • Support the University’s annual giving program by encouraging group members to make annual gifts.

PART IV: CRITERIA AND REQUIREMENTS FOR ALUMNI CLUBS

In order to become a UVM affiliated alumni club, the group must be compliant with the criteria and requirements established by the UVM Alumni Association. Additionally, the club must adhere to all Alumni Relations standards in order to receive ongoing support and services



A. MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENT

To initiate an alumni affinity club, there must be at least six alumni who have demonstrated an interest in establishing and maintaining the club. Additionally, individuals should be willing to assume one of the club’s leadership roles:



  • Chair/Liason to UVM Alumni Association

  • Vice-Chair

  • Membership/Marketing Chair

A Founding Members Roster must be completed with the names of the club’s first six members and submitted to the Office of Alumni Relations (see Part VI for a copy of the form).



B. CLUB’S MISSION

All alumni clubs must have a written mission statement outlining the purpose for its existence. The mission statement will serve as a guide for future programming and events and inform alumni of the club’s direction. Each club’s purpose must be aligned with the general mission of the UVM Alumni Association to benefit the alumni community and is subject to review by the Affinity Committee of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.



University of Vermont Alumni Association Mission
The UVM Alumni Association fosters lifelong relationships among a vibrant, global and diverse community engaged by a common desire to preserve, celebrate and enhance the University of Vermont and to enrich the lives of its members.”

C. GOVERNING DOCUMENT

Each alumni club is required to have a written constitution that will govern the group’s operations and activities. This document will serve as a framework for the club to follow and it establishes important tenets that help minimize the potential for future conflict about the club’s operations. A sample constitution can be found in Part VI: Resource, and should serve as a guide for completing this requirement for your proposed group.



D. ONGOING REQUIREMENTS

To receive ongoing support, assistance, and services from the Office of Alumni Relations, alumni clubs must adhere to the following requirements each year of its existence.



1. MAINTAINING THE CONSTITUTION:
The constitution drafted by the group and approved by the Office of Alumni Relations will serve as a guide for conducting the group’s activities. It should be followed consistently, and any changes must be reviewed by the Office of Alumni Relations before they are implemented. Additionally, take special note of the following:

Term limits for officers: As you can see in the sample constitution located in Part IV, no one officer can serve for more than two consecutive years.

Officer list: Following each election, an updated list of officers must be sent to the Office of Alumni Relations. Additionally, if an officer is changed prior to an election, those changes must also be submitted to the Office of Alumni Relations (along with the reason for the change).

Minimum number of members: The group must maintain at least ten members.
2. CLUB LEADERSHIP MEETINGS:
Each club is required to host a minimum of one strategy/planning session each year. The number of programming meetings will depend on the size of your group and number of events your group will host. At least two events– one per academic semester (fall and spring)–are required. Each club is invited to send one member to the annual Vermont Alumni Association Leadership Weekend.

  1. PROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS:
    The club must conduct at least one program/event per academic semester (fall and spring). Program ideas include student-alumni events such as multicultural heritage month programs or networking events. Any program ideas that your group has should be discussed with the Office of Alumni Relations before planning begins. This will ensure that financial and staff support is available.

The volunteers will also work with the Office of Alumni Relations to have events posted on the alumni website calendar. The group should utilize alumni relations tools to assist in marketing and follow-up messaging.

  1. ANNUAL REPORT:
    An annual report must be submitted to the Office of Alumni Relations within the first month of every fiscal year the group is in existence (July 1 through June 30).
    The report must include:

    • List of new alumni included in the group with school and degree information;

    • An updated membership list and names of leadership;

    • The number of activities that were conducted in the past year;

    • Any co-sponsorships with other groups/departments; and

    • (If applicable) A member acknowledgement section, recognizing promotions in the professional lives of members and other note-worthy accomplishments.

  1. AFFINITY PROGRAM PRINCIPLES OF PRACTICE:
    All clubs will conduct their activities according to the following principles:

    • Accurately promote the overall mission of the University of Vermont and the UVM Alumni Association in a positive manner.

    • Promote a spirit of service to the University and alumni community.

    • Strive to strengthen the relationship between alumni and the University.

    • Actively engage the Office of Alumni Relations for planning communication and event planning guidance and support.

    • Accurately represent the interests of members and other constituents.

    • Create opportunities for diverse alumni participation in organization activities.

    • Encourage participation in the Alumni Association’s sustaining member program.

    • Support the University’s annual giving program by encouraging group members to make annual gifts.

PART V: BENEFITS AND SUPPORT

A. FUNDING

UVM ALUMNI ASSOCIATION GRANTS PROGRAM

The UVM Alumni Association Grants Program is designed to provide funding for recognized groups/clubs of the UVM Alumni Association. Alumni Affinity Group may apply for funding through the Grants Program. An annual budget is established by the Alumni Board and administered by the UVM Alumni Relations staff. Funds may not be available to meet all requests on an annual basis.

For more information on the UVM Alumni Association Grants Program and to submit an online application, visit http://alumni.uvm.edu/grants.html.
B. ADVERTISING AND MARKETING

Affinity groups are encouraged to take advantage of marketing opportunities available to them as recognized groups of the UVM Alumni Association. These include: web site posting, Vermont Quarterly events calendar, e-mail blasts, social media placement and print publications.



C. EVENT COLLABORATION

The Alumni Association prepares and delivers more than 100 events that are wonderful opportunities for collaboration. This includes Homecoming and Reunion Weekend that attracts over 4,000 alumni, students, parents, and friends each fall to participate in four days of campus events, activities, and celebrations.



REUNION AND HOMECOMING HOST EVENTS
Alumni groups can host an event as part of Alumni Weekend and enjoy the benefit of having thousands of alumni on campus and in the Burlington area. Because the weekend requires extensive planning, your event ideas should be discussed with the Office of Alumni Relations at least six months before Alumni Weekend occurs.

COLLABORATE ON EXISTING EVENTS
Alumni groups may partner with alumni events that are planned by board and chapter organizations or with those planned centrally by the UVM Staff. Groups can be involved in various ways that encourage participation and/or awareness of your group.

FOLLOW-UP MESSAGING
The Office of Alumni Relations can assist with follow-up messages and surveys to assess the success of alumni events. Contact the alumni office for further details on these protocols.

D. USE OF ALUMNI HOUSE

Once the facility is opened, the UVM Alumni House can be reserved for alumni group and club activities.



PART VI: RESOURCES

A. RESOURCE CONTACT LIST

Office of Alumni Relations 411 Main Street, Burlington, VT 05401
Website: alumni.uvm.edu E-mail: alumni@uvm.edu

Phone: 802-656-2010 Toll Free: 1-888-458-8691


Office of Alumni Relations Staff:



B. ADVERTISING AND MARKETING CONSIDERATIONS
Branding / Use of UVM Alumni Association Banners and Logos:

We ask that affinity groups use the current symbol for the UVM Alumni Association at events. This is the framed UVM Tower with the green mountains in the background and the words UVM Alumni Association to the right (in the header of each page of this document). We will provide each affinity group with a 11” x 15” vinyl banner with your affinity group’s name imprinted below the UVM Alumni Association logo. This will be shipped along with the other event materials. The artwork for the banner will be available on the UVM Alumni Association website at alumni.uvm.edu/affinity in the marketing resources section.


Websites:
Websites are a great way to communicate with your members, constituents, and other interested parties. It is a great way to showcase the group’s mission, current and planned activities, and recent accomplishments and highlights, including photos. Items to consider:

  • Keep the information on your website current

  • Include your web address in all mailings and emails

  • List current volunteer leaders and contact information

Emails and Distribution Lists:
Emails are an effective way of generating interest with group activities. Advance planning is necessary to utilize the media for the greatest return. Items to consider:

  • Frequency – Plan volume of outreach to avoid over-use of emails

  • Length – Keep messages short and succinct; Less is more

  • Content – Advertise upcoming events or make a call to action

  • Don’ts – Promote personal events, outside products, or other non-sanctioned activity


Social Media:
Social media outlets provide a very cost effective media for communicating with members of your group. Any social media presence must reflect the values and mission of the group and broader alumni association. Items to consider:

  • Facebook – This is a great tool for generating interest but not for confirming attendees. We encourage you to create Facebook pages, not Facebook groups to promote local activities and news. Please name your fan page “UVM Alumni Association (affinity group name).”

  • Linked In – Professional networking is strongly encouraged with this tool. The UVM Alumni Association has a group of more than 10,000 alumni. Join and post about your affinity group. To join, go to “UVM Alumni Association” on LinkedIn.com.

Publications and Mailings:
Print publications are often the most expensive means to communicate with your group. Advance planning will allow you to take advantage of existing vehicles. Items to consider:

  • Vermont QuarterlyMagazine is produced in Nov, Feb, June; deadline 1 month prior

  • Use of Alumni Association logos/images are permitted with prior approval of message

  • All mailings must be approved by the Office of Alumni Relations



C. TIPS FOR HOSTING SUCCESSFUL EVENTS

The following is a set of guidelines to assist you in planning and hosting successful events. You should always discuss your event ideas with the Office of Alumni Relations and collaborate with the Office during the planning process.



Where Do You Begin? The beginning stages of the planning process is often the most difficult to navigate. To make it easier, keep these questions in mind:

  • What type of event would you like to hold? What is the purpose of the event, and what would you like the members and leaders to take away from the event?

  • How many alumni do you expect to attend?

  • What is the group’s available budget? This will have an influence on the size and scope of your event.

  • Are there any holidays or local events that may conflict with the timing of your event?

  • What type of facility would be best suited for your event type and the expected number of attendees?

  • When should you hold your event? Ensure that you have ample time to advertise.


How Do You Pay for the Event? Your available budget will have the greatest influence on the type of event you can hold. However, the Office can often provide financial support. The UVMAA Grants Program is a great way to help fund your event (see Part V for more information). Beware of these hidden fees:

  • Food and beverage minimums

  • Room rental fees

  • Other rental fees such as DJ, audio visuals, bartending, etc.

  • Per person cost for food and/or beverage

  • Non-refundable deposits. If we have to cancel, will we lose money?

  • Insurance form?


How Do You Publicize Your Event? All alumni groups are encouraged to use the Alumni Association website and the Vermont Quarterly magazine calendar, in addition to other marketing methods the group may choose. Planning is important and a minimum of 10 weeks is necessary to effectively promote your event.



Should Attendees Register for the Event? Yes! Registration will help to provide an estimate of how many people plan to attend. Consult with the UVM Alumni Relations staff to determine the most effective way to manage registrations.

What Are Some Last Steps to Consider Prior to the Event?

  • One week prior

    • Reconfirm all the details with your contact at the event location. Don’t forget to provide a final count!

  • One day prior

    • Send a reminder e-mail to all alumni who plan to attend.

  • Day of Event

    • Arrive to the event site approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour before the event start time to set-up. Check-in alumni and capture their most up-to-date information using a sign-in sheet. Mingle, make friends and recruit members for your group!


D. FUNDRAISING AND MEMBERSHIP

Alumni groups are not allowed to conduct any fundraising campaigns without prior approval from the Office of Alumni Relations. The primary source of support for affinity groups and clubs will come from the UVM Alumni Association Grants program. Individual members may elect to sponsor or underwrite the costs for events. All groups should encourage participation in the UVM Alumni Association sustaining member program. Visit alumni.uvm.edu for more information.



E. FORMS
The UVM Alumni Relations team is your resource for support and direction relating to the work of your group. They should be contacted with any questions you may have. Four standard forms are provided here for your reference:

Group Application & Renewal Forms These are materials necessary to express your intent to form an affinity group or club or to renew recognition of the club or group.

Founding Members Roster This roster is completed when a new group is formed and therefore is only completed once.

Constitution Guide All alumni group constitutions must follow this format in order to be recognized by the Office of Alumni Relations.

Annual Report Template An annual report must be completed to provide a holistic view of your club or group and its accomplishments for the fiscal year.



University of Vermont Alumni Association

Affinity Program Handbook Revised: August 19, 2013



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