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Instead of just asking for money, focus on fun and creative ways to re-ignite Alumni passion.

“Those were the happiest days of my life,” say many fraternity brothers about their carefree college days. That should make it easy for fraternal alumni organizations to maintain an active and involved membership, right?  But often it’s not so easy. Time passes, memories fade and alumni sometimes feel that the only reason their fraternity contacts them is to ask for money.

Everyone knows that fund-raising is vital; money is needed for house maintenance and develop outstanding undergraduate programs. But by planning interesting and fun alumni relations programs – that go beyond fund-raising and the occasional reunion – we can forge a connection between our alumni and the fraternity and energize our membership, which may translate into more giving. We’ll get our money and a lot more too.

Fun, interesting events that affirm our members’ affinity for Gamma Upsilon and Miami University can produce greater alumni support. Activities can range from sporting events, such as golf outings, to mentoring programs to special vacations. Our philanthropy events are good examples of this, but we can always do more.

Our goal should be to engage 100 percent of our membership. A good place to start is to piggyback on an annual university event. Homecoming, football games and basketball games are obvious choices if your university has an athletic program. We already have activities at Homecoming and football games, but there is more we can do to energize our membership. Alumni Weekend in June is a good example of the type of activity that can draw members back to our university and our brotherhood.

In addition to attending university events, organized sporting events in which our brothers can participate, such as golf outings are popular activities that can often be turned into annual events. A group vacation is another approach. For example, Theta Chi brothers from Michigan State go on an annual fishing trip together. Tailoring events for classes of a particular era can also work well. The Beta classes from the 1950s at Duke have dubbed themselves the Fifties Group and regularly organize trips.

Educational and mentoring programs provide another opportunity for creative programs. Sigma Nu and Theta Chi have launched mentoring platforms on their websites. Programs like these encourage alumni to connect with one another, undergraduates and our association in a constructive and positive way.

Successful programs strive to demonstrate to our alumni that our fraternity – a brotherhood meant to last a lifetime – remains relevant in their adult lives. The time has come to abandon the narrow focus of fund-raising and an occasional reunion.  Let’s break out of the mold and look for innovative ways to engage our brothers so they can experience again “the happiest days of their lives.”