After reading Rethinking I was in a sorority, I began reflecting over how many times I’ve said that phrase and why. One reason might be when I talk to people who aren’t in a sorority, they don’t understand that it is a life-long bond of sisterhood. So, when you say “I’m in a sorority” many people don’t understand. Some even wrongfully assume you are still in college. So, how do we fix this? Instead of changing our language to be understood by others, we should take this opportunity to educate the public on what being in a sorority truly means. However, if I am being honest with myself, the main reason I say that I WAS in a sorority rather than that I AM in a sorority is because I don’t feel that same deep connection to my chapter anymore like I did in college.
Why do we lose contact with our collegiate chapters? Post-graduation, sorority alumnae all over the world work hard to balance their careers, families and social calendars. Their busy schedules can cause things to fall through the cracks, like staying in touch with your sorority. Really, there is no reason for this in our digitized world as social media makes staying in contact a breeze. While being busy is a great excuse, and very true for the majority of us, we can still try to stay involved. Often, alumnae look to our collegiate chapters to provide opportunities at all time commitment levels.
Keeping Alumnae Connected To Your Collegiate Chapter
The easiest way to start is for collegiate chapters to select one or more alumnae representatives who schedule alumnae events and help engage other alumnae. My chapter has a Facebook group for chapter alumnae which include the alumnae representative so that she can pass along information. While this is a great start, I don’t think this is the only solution. Here are my top tips for keeping alumnae members active and included:
1. Keep Alumnae Updated On Chapter Activities
Have an alumnae representative or committee of representatives who actively use social media to update alumnae on current chapter activities and reach out to alumnae when the chapter wants them to be involved (more on this below). By keeping alumnae informed about what is happening in the chapter, you have a higher chance of engaging them when you need or want their help.
2. Determine Needs of Collegiate Chapter
The alumnae representative(s) should take a poll of collegiate sisters each semester to see what their wants and needs are, and then identify ways that alumnae can help. You can also have a specific collegiate officer conduct this survey and provide the information to alumnae.
Think of questions like, do graduating seniors need help with resume and cover writing, interview skills, or help looking for a job in their industry? Do officers need specific help with events like recruitment or fundraising and service opportunities? Are there specific areas of programming that alumnae can present on? These are all things that alumnae can help with that doesn’t take too much time from our busy schedules. If you tell us specifically what you need from us, more often than not we will gladly help (or recommend a fellow sister who can)!
3. Host Events for Alumnae
Have annual alumni events like mingles, tea, lunch, etc. Publicize this long in advance and plan to have it on a weekend so that there is a better chance alumni members aren’t working and will be able to attend. This allows a chance for alumnae to come together again and stay connected to their chapter. The more engaged alumnae are, the more benefit you see to collegiate chapters.
4. Send Out An Alumnae Newsletter
Have your alumnae representative(s) send out a monthly newsletter via e-mail updating alumnae on what the chapter is doing as well as how alumnae can be involved or help. For example, are you raising money for your philanthropy? Maybe alumnae can donate money to your cause online or by attending an event. Are you trying to plan an event and need a specific skill set? Perhaps one of your alumnae sisters has just the skill set you are looking for or manages a venue you can use at a discount! If you don’t ask, we can’t help.
5. Encourage Alumnae Members To Invite Others
If you, as a collegiate member, are in touch with one alumna member, remember that she is probably in contact with several other alumnae members. Being in a sorority is truly a bond for life. I’m in contact with most of the girls who joined my sorority the same semester as me as well as my little sister, her little sister and several others. Every time I travel back to San Francisco I check with my chapters alumnae representative to see if there are any events. If there are, I make sure to inform all of the alumnae I am in contact with who live in the area. This is something proactive that I do because I want to stay involved. Most alumnae will also invite their friends to events, which helps connect them back to the chapter. If the alumnae representative and other active members focus on networking and maintaining contact with alumnae members, we can all stay connected and feel involved making us more likely to say “I am in a sorority” even decades after graduation.