At Convention 2019, Council approved a resolution to create a Task Force on Alumnae Engagement. The task force committee was asked to consider the following:
- How our alumnae members define “sisterhood for a lifetime” and what it means to them to be connected to the Fraternity following college to make membership a priority;
- The concept of an alumnae chapter and its organization as a geographic group and/or a collegiate-based association;
- The role of the alumnae chapters as initially chartered as support for collegiate chapters versus the function of the AAC;
- The method of payment of international dues by alumnae (that is, paid directly to the international organization of as part of a chapter/association) and what technology can be used to support this payment;
- The type of support and resources alumnae expect from the Fraternity for both individuals and chapters and how that relates to the payment of dues;
- The expenses and limitations of the Fraternity as it relates to services expected and offered to alumnae;
- The role of alumnae within Council;
- The alumnae engagement suggestions arising through the Governance Practices and Review Task Force Research conducted in 2018; and
- The models used by other NPC and NPHC organizations and how their alumnae engagement is impacted.
After an application process consistent with the specific membership identified in the resolution, the Executive Board appointed the following sisters to the Task Force #2 Committee.
Sharon Boison – Network Specialist Alumnae
Vicki Menna – Co-Chair, Network Specialist Alumnae
Kaya Miller – Headquarters Staff, Executive Director (previous Assistant Executive Director)
Katie Nafius – Alumnae Chapter President
Lisa Niedenthal – Executive Board Vice President
Kayla Reszka – Headquarters Staff, Assistant Director of Alumnae Engagement
Chantel Schieffer – Alumnae Chapter President
Sarah Segner – Alumnae Advisory Committee Member
Marji Stevens – Alumnae Chapter President
Jen Stiver – Co-Chair, Chapter Adviser
Identifying the Issues
As noted in the resolution, there is a general lack of engagement amongst many of our sisters after graduation. This leaves our alumnae chapters struggling for ideas on how to serve their members and how to recruit new members. The Committee saw a need to identify why sisters joined, or did not join, an alumnae chapter and it determined that a survey of targeted groups was the best way to find out answers to our questions. The Committee also determined that it had to look at the results with an open mind for purposes of making useful recommendations.
Understanding the Current State
The Committee established the following targeted groups:
- network teams,
- members of AACs,
- alumnae presidents and their alumnae chapter members,
- alumnae who were active with other sisters but not involved in alumnae chapters,
- alumnae who had been previously involved and no longer active with an alumnae chapter,
- collegiate chapters’ Alumnae Relations Chair (ARC),
- young alumnae, and
- other NPC organizations
The Committee members also considered accessing anecdotal information from other organizations, such as the Interfraternity Council, university and high school alumnae organizations, and the Junior League.
The Committee members were divided into teams to contact these targeted groups.
To obtain a snapshot of our alumnae and their concerns and ideas about how to improve or adjust the engagement of our alumnae, we designed surveys that were shared with alumnae presidents and AAC members, including those who are not members of an alumnae chapter, through SurveyMonkey. An additional general survey was designed for sisters who may or may not be in an alumnae chapter but who were engaged with the Fraternity through various AOII Alumnae Facebook groups. In addition, other NPC/NPHC organizations were contacted for anecdotal information on how their alumnae engagement may differ from AOII’s. Furthermore, other informal discussions took place to gather data regarding non-Greek, private & community groups to determine how their organization is structured and how engaged their members may be.
The results of the surveys were compiled and discussed as a means of developing the recommendations contained within this report.
Three surveys were sent out through SurveyMonkey to alumnae presidents, members of AACs, and alumnae general membership. Headquarters staff members sent the surveys to alumnae chapter presidents and all alumnae advisory committee members via email. Many surveys were sent via task force members and circulated in private and public AOII Facebook groups.
The General Survey
Of the majority that responded, the members stay in touch with the Fraternity via newsletters, social media, etc.; they are often members in AOII-only Facebook groups. Just over 75% of the sisters read To Dragma and just under 75% are members or officers of local alumnae chapters. In addition, just over 50% of these women remain in contact with their collegiate chapter and donate to the Foundation.
The primary factor that impacts upon a sister’s engagement/involvement, or lack thereof, is time. Our sisters are primarily interested in connecting with a geographic alumnae chapter; however, they are also interested in connecting with a collegiate chapter.
The Alumnae Presidents’ (AP) Survey
The majority of the APs responding to this survey have served in their current position for 2 to 10 years. 25% of alumnae chapters do not conduct alumnae education programs to their local chapter while 18% do not have a local collegiate chapter. This could directly correlate with only 199 First Year on Us members for 2019-2020. Founders’ Day is the most effective event for alumnae chapters to connect to collegians, with some connections also occurring through Homecoming/Alumni weekends and international events, such as International Convention. APs responded that the primary connection to AOII was through the geographical alumnae chapter (42%).
The AAC Survey
Of the respondents, just over 50% of the AAC members are also members of an alumnae chapter. 80% of the AAC respondents indicated that the collegiate chapters they work with are supported by local alumnae chapters. As stated in the Governing Documents, Standing Rule 16, Section 1: Expectations. All alumnae members who are serving the Fraternity in a volunteer role are expected to be dues paying members of an alumnae chapter, Life Loyal, or the International Alumnae Association. They are also expected to donate to the Foundation on an annual basis. This includes Alumnae Advisory Committee members, Corporation Board members, Executive Board members, Foundation Board members, Network Directors, Network Specialists, Properties Board members, and Standing Committee members.
When discussing alumnae engagement with collegiate chapters, the primary focuses are on membership in alumnae chapters and future AAC opportunities. As with the AP survey, the most effective event for establishing relations between collegiate chapters, AACs and the alumnae chapters is Founders’ Day with some connections also occurring through Homecoming/Alumni weekends and international events.
NPC Survey Data
Out of 26 National Panhellenic Conference Organizations, 18 currently have or are implementing a per capita dues structure, including Alpha Omicron Pi. Upon research of pricing, Alpha Omicron Pi is competitive in the fee amount. Organizations such as Delta Gamma, Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Sigma Alpha have recently surveyed their alumnae membership to conduct their true needs of the per capita dues plans and overall alumnae engagement. The consensus on NPC groups is that alumnae engagement has been steady but not increasing over the previous years.
In looking through the initial resolution, the task force wanted to find ways to further alumnae engagement for a lifetime with AOII. This meant looking at what works in the current system, as well as some potential augmentation to allow for more engagement when, where and how sisters want to stay connected.
Through our analysis of our outreach, the Committee found that there were two kinds of organizations that AOII should consider for alumnae sisters. The first is the already established alumnae chapters with membership based on sisters’ geographic location. The current requirements set forth in the Governing Documents should not be altered. The option to operate virtually should be available to alumnae chapters. The second are alumnae clubs based largely on collegiate chapters of initiation with fewer operational requirements than alumnae chapters and without a voice or vote on Council.
The purpose of an alumnae chapter is to provide our membership not only a touchstone for Fraternity principles, but also means through which members can continue contributing to Alpha Omicron Pi’s existence and furthering its development. This extends to overall alumnae engagement through recruitment of membership and philanthropic support. The purpose of an alumnae club is to provide additional collegiate chapter support with fewer operational requirements. Alumnae clubs can provide an outlet for alumnae to engage with a collegiate chapter to support its operations.
The task force recommends that the Network Specialist-Lifetime Engagement team establish criteria for alumnae clubs based on the research of this report.
While the Committee recognizes that the addition of alumnae clubs into the structure of AOII may seem to be a lure away from alumnae chapter membership, we feel strongly that this membership option in an alumnae club will draw disengaged sisters to be connected with collegiate chapters, AACs, geographic alumnae chapters and the Fraternity. They will provide a conduit for the provision of information and training to re-engage these sisters.
Sections of training and education for collegiate chapters should be examined to improve the process of transitioning into life as an alumna member. Education should be provided to collegians and alumnae leadership annually as a way of recruiting them into both alumnae chapters and alumnae clubs.
Create consistent promotion of alumnae engagement options to be shared with collegiate chapter seniors.
Create additional modules and resources to educate alumnae members on best practices on creating and maintaining a successful alumnae club.
All of this information should be available to any sister in good standing, regardless of whether she is a member of a club or chapter. This would be considered part of the benefit gained from paying International dues.
Submitted by the Alumnae Engagement Task Force of Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity.