Serving as a Social and Professional Hub
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 formal events, including educational and cultural programs, recreational sports leagues, outdoor recreation experiences, and service and volunteer opportunities. And, chapters 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
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 are one of the primary ways in which chapters maintain connections with their local community of Badgers. That’s why communicating the chapter’s game-watch location — generally a bar or restaurant — to area Badgers should be of prime importance to any chapter.
Game watches can be as simple as deciding to gather at a particular bar, but working with the establishment to offer drink and food specials and other amenities 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 your group.
- Communicate in advance what the food and beverage offerings will be.
- Use the event to promote other chapter activities, including service projects, chapter scholarship fundraising, and upcoming events.
Beyond game-watch parties, there are other sports-related reasons for Badgers to get together:
- Bowling night
- Skating or curling night (consider making it a family-friendly event)
- Recreational league sports such as volleyball or softball
- Attending sporting events together by buying blocks of tickets
- Participating in any Big Ten alumni-chapter organizations in the 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
- Participate in UW-Madison’s annual Go Big Read book club
- Happy-hour get-togethers
- Wine tastings or brewery tours
- Visiting museums or attending local events
A great way to get your chapter involved in the community is through service work. Consider these options:
- Community cleanup day
- Food drive (great for a game-watch party)
- Local charity run
- Partnering with a local nonprofit
The December holidays are a great excuse to gather. You might try:
- Holiday party at the local game-watch location
- Ice skating at local rink (consider making this a family-friendly event)
- Holiday gift or food drive
- Ugly Christmas sweater pub crawl
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
- Bringing the Wisconsin Singers to your community to perform
- Attending or sponsoring a local festival
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 or manufacturing facility
- Professional networking group for the chapter as a whole or for young alumni in particular
- 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 Facebook page
- Offering a reduced fee for new alumni (e.g., for those who have graduated within the last five years) when you charge for events
- Establishing a subset of the larger alumni chapter that caters specially to younger alumni
One of the best ways to get recent grads involved is by asking 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 so that they will be well attended.
- Plan events around industries of particular interest to local alumni.
- Structure the event 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. You and your fellow chapter members can offer invaluable help to make these events successful by greeting attendees, staffing registration tables, or building community awareness of the events.
Awards and Recognition
Honorees are selected based on leadership in their profession, community service, and/or volunteer contributions. Since 2004, WAA chapters have proudly celebrated hundreds of alumni who make positive impacts in their communities as leaders, volunteers, educators, and advocates.
This award honors alumni under the age of 40 who are doing an exceptional job of living the Wisconsin Idea — the concept that the University of Wisconsin-Madison can benefit the world around it through the influence of its alumni and faculty. Due July 1.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards are the highest honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Since 1936, WAA has been presenting the awards to the most prestigious graduates of UW-Madison for their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university.
This award is new in 2015! Previously called the Sparkplug Award, it will recognize alumni who have actively served in a leadership role and have been exceptional at it. Due October 1.
Training and Professional Development
WAA believes that training is an important step for alumni volunteers to be successful in their role. WAA develops volunteers through conferences, webinars, online training, one-on-one mentoring, coaching, and staff expertise and support.
One of our key opporuntites for training and professional development is the Badger Leaders conference in the fall.