WAA Chapter Leader Handbook


Alumni-to-alumni connections are the lifeblood of WAA chapters. Chapter volunteers provide crucial mentoring and career guidance for new UW– Madison graduates and future alumni. Chapters bring alumni together at planned events, including educational and cultural programs, recreational sports leagues, outdoor recreation experiences, and volunteer opportunities. Chapters also host social and professional activities, including happy hours, wine tastings, and networking events.

A successful chapter:

  • Is a conduit for volunteering on behalf of UW–Madison
  • Is a social and professional hub
  • Hosts events
  • Facilitates Badger-to-Badger alumni, new-alumni, and future-alumni connections
  • Maintains active social-media accounts to foster interactions
  • Keeps area alumni informed about upcoming events and activities
  • Creates programs that foster mentoring or advising
  • Utilizes BadgerBridge to connect alumni to opportunities to mentor (badgerbridge.com)

Spirit-Building Events

Every chapter should host events that provide an opportunity for Badgers to gather, wear red and white, “jump around,” sing “Varsity,” and cheer the Badgers on to victory!

Game-Watch Parties

Game-watch parties are one of the primary ways in which chapters maintain connections with their local community of Badgers. That’s why communicating a game-watch location — generally a bar or restaurant — to area Badgers should be of prime importance to every chapter.

Game-watches can be as simple as deciding to gather at a particular bar and working with the establishment to offer drink and food specials and other amenities that will enhance the experience for attendees and strengthen the relationship with the venue’s management. These parties are generally planned to watch Badger football and men’s basketball games, although many chapters hold game-watch parties for other Badger sporting events.

To create a successful game-watch party:

  • Pick a venue that will show the game, no matter what
  • Ensure that your venue can accommodate the size of your group
  • Communicate in advance to alumni what the food and beverage offerings will be
  • Use the event to promote other chapter activities, including service projects, scholarship fundraising, and upcoming events

Order Supplies For Your Game-Watch Party

Sporting Events

Beyond game-watch parties, there are other sports-related reasons for Badgers to get together:

  • Bowling night
  • Skating or curling event (consider making it a family-friendly event)
  • Recreational league sports
  • Attending sporting events together by buying blocks of tickets and adding a social event before or after
  • Participating in Big Ten alumni-chapter organizations in your area
  • Running as a group in a local charity run

Social Events and Outings

Having fun seems to come naturally to Badgers. Try these ideas for social gatherings:

  • Trivia nights or quiz tournaments
  • Participating in UW–Madison’s annual Go Big Read book club
  • Happy-hour get-togethers
  • Wine tastings or brewery tours
  • Picnics
  • Hikes
  • Visiting museums or venues of local interest, or attending cultural events

Community-Service Projects

A great way to get your chapter involved in the community is through service work. Consider these options:

  • Community cleanup day
  • Food drive (great to add to a game-watch party)
  • Local charity run
  • Partnering with a local nonprofit

Holiday Events

The December holidays are a great excuse to gather. You might try:

  • Holiday party at the local game-watch location
  • Ice skating at a local rink (consider making this a family-friendly event)
  • Holiday gift or food drive
  • Ugly-sweater party and/or potluck

Cultural and Community Events

A great way to bring alumni together is through cultural activities and community-centric events. Some ideas include:

  • Buying a ticket block for a concert or play
  • Inviting a university group or ensemble to your community to perform
  • Attending, sponsoring, or staffing a booth at a local festival

Networking Events

Networking events help to foster camaraderie, professional connections, and general goodwill. You could try these ideas:

  • Panel discussion on a career topic
  • Tour of a local grad’s workplace
  • Professional networking groups for the chapter as a whole, young alumni, alumni of color, women, etc.
  • Career-oriented workshop or seminar

Offerings For New and Recent Alumni

Serving UW–Madison’s newest alumni is an important part of the chapter’s mission. Chapters can help new and recent alumni by creating programs and hosting events that make them feel welcome and allow them to quickly meet other new — and not-so-new — alumni in your area. By getting new and recent alumni involved shortly after graduation, you can help to build their lifelong commitment to the university and help to keep your chapter energized with younger alumni and fresh ideas. How about:

  • Hosting an informal gathering at a popular area bar
  • Using both social media and email to reach new grads
  • Including new-alumni information on your chapter’s website and social-media pages
  • Offering a reduced fee for new alumni (e.g., for those who have graduated within the last five or 10 years) when you charge for events
  • Establishing a committee that caters specially to recent grads

One of the best ways to get recent grads involved is to ask them to be on your board, chair a committee, or run your social-media communications. If you keep young alumni involved in all areas of your chapter’s operations, you should have no problem with new-alumni participation.

Career and Professional Events

Surveys have shown that alumni are very interested in professional development and networking, and the network of entrepreneurial and professional Badger alumni stretches across the globe. Here are some keys to putting on successful career and professional events:

  • Feature a high-profile speaker to generate buzz and increase attendance
  • Offer a panel discussion instead of a speaker
  • Plan events for before or after work hours and on weekends so that they will be well attended
  • Plan events around industries of interest to local alumni
  • Structure events to include time for networking
  • Create events whose sole purpose is networking

Supporting UW–Madison Events

Throughout the year, there may be opportunities for your chapter to support UW-related events happening in your community. These include visits by UW professors, bowl games, NCAA tournaments, and school, college, or department events. Your chapter can offer invaluable help to make these events successful by greeting attendees, staffing registration tables, and building community awareness of the events.