Planning & Preparation…The Keys to a Successful Event

It should come as no surprise that planning is essential to a successful event.  This guide is not intended as a definitive answer or a simple solution for your unique event. This resource can help you recognize many of the important questions and issues that will affect your event and consider some of the options available to you.  Don’t hesitate to contact headquarters staff directly if you have additional questions.  We are happy to help, and we can also refer you to other TKE volunteers who have planned successful events for their own celebrations.

It is never too early to start planning.  Some groups start planning two years or more in advance. How far in advance you start has a direct effect on what options you may be able to build in for your event, and it will also have a significant impact on how many people are able to attend.

Calendar
  • What is the best timing for your actual event?
  • Do you want to celebrate on the actual date of your founding?
  • Is it better to meet during a campus event that already draws people?
  • Is there a better time of year that is easier for travel or seasonal comfort?
  • Do you want to celebrate with multiple events over the course of an entire year?
  • How early can you form a committee and/or solicit help?
  • How early can you send a “Save the Date” to your audience?
  • When do you need to get reservations and contracts taken care of, if appropriate?
  • When will you have event details out to your audience?
Volunteers
  • How broadly representative your planning group?
  • Do you have alumni of different ages?
  • Who are you using as primary contacts to help extend your reach – past or hegemons, decade “captains,” some other arrangement?
  • Having people work within their own “era” or family tree can help spur interest and turnout.
  • Who can start working right now on finding lost alums prior to your event?
  • In addition to finding lost Fraters, what efforts could be made to recreate and document family trees within your scroll?
  • Do you have someone who is more “local” who can help with certain matters in person?
  • Who can be onsite early?
  • Who will be responsible for various roles in the midst of the event(s)?
  • Who can remain afterward for any tear-down, clean-up, etc?
  • How might you be able to involve someone in a supporting role who will be unable to attend in person but would still like to contribute/connect?
  • Do you have someone who can assist with technology – powerpoint, video messages, video conferencing, etc.?
  • Do you need someone who can help transport equipment/supplies?
Audience
  • How are you involving Fraters’ spouses/partners in your event(s)?
  • Do you want any of your events to be kid friendly?  Are you considering alternatives for kids or other family members who might be less interested in other main events?
  • Could you arrange some sort of babysitting or shared kid space for Fraters with children?
  • Are there former advisors, house mothers, or campus administrators you would like to contact?
  • Do you want to include sweethearts, little sisters, or Order of Diana?  If so, what about their husbands/partners?
  • Are you reaching out to widows/surviving partners/other family members of Fraters who have passed into the Chapter Eternal?
  • For those who may not be able to travel to join you, is there some other way they can share a message?  Or hear from those who did attend?
  • Are your promotional materials, invitations, and other messaging respectful and inclusive of all Fraters?
  • Will you also be communicating with current students or just with alumni?
Event Planning
  • Do you want a formal event or something more casual? 
  • How expensive? 
  • If you will be hosting multiple events, are you creating a range and variety of options?
  • Is it better to celebrate on campus, or in the same city/town where your school is, or some other location, such as a larger metro area nearby?
  • Are you planning any outdoor events?  Do you have contingency plans in place for inclement weather?
  • Is there a need for any kind of signage for your event?
  • Will you need to transport/shuttle your alumni or guests for any events or venues?
  • Will some Fraters or guests need extra assistance regarding their access and mobility? 
    Are you hosting your event in an accessible space?
  • Are you soliciting information about dietary restrictions and preferences for any meals?
  • What event/venue details do you want your guests to have in hand prior to the event? (driving directions, GPS address, appropriate dress, event timing/flow, cash needs)
  • If you are arranging for a bar, will it be open, or cash bar, or some combination?  How do you want that affecting your event?
  • If you are having a BYOB event, how are you managing and controlling the alcohol appropriately?  How are you managing the risk and liability re: underage drinking?
  • Are you managing your risk and liability appropriately?
    Are you aware of all relevant policies and/or laws that bear on your event? 

    If you don’t have a chartered alumni association, the Board (and therefore, the chapter) may bear additional liability for your event(s).  This is another important reason for having an officially recognized alumni association.
Finances
  • Are you expecting everyone to pay their own way?
  • Do you have an alumni association with funds to contribute? 
  • Are you expecting support from the chapter or the BOA?
  • What other partners may be able to contribute in some fashion?  What other potential sources may there be for creative funding or support?
  • What services or spaces might the school be able to offer to save on costs?
  • Are there any local businesses or Frater-owned businesses that could “sponsor” some part of your event and/or offer space at no cost?
  • Have you negotiated a room block and a reduced rate at a hotel in order to reduce costs?  Or a reduced rate with a preferred airline if many will be traveling?
  • Do you have a means for collecting payments in advance?  (Chartered associations can use their Member Planet online account.)  For those that prefer not to do online payments, do you have an alternative plan?
  • Have you given any thoughts to a “refund policy” if necessary?  How will you handle late cancellations?  Complications with outdoor events?
  • Who is signing contracts and who, then, is carrying the responsibility?  Is it your alumni association, or the board on behalf of the chapter, or simply committee members as individuals?

Partnering...Leveraging Resources and Relationships

Your alumni event involves many others in addition to your own alumni. The staff at TKE headquarters wants to be aware of your event and can support your planning and outreach efforts. Your university administration, particularly the alumni and/or development offices, may be additional resources. Early planning also allows for early outreach and facilitates more options.

Tau Kappa Epsilon Headquarters
Have you contacted headquarters, advised us of your date/location, and posted to the TKE events page?

If you do not have a chartered alumni association, this is a valuable opportunity to organize yourselves and be recognized within the Fraternity. Chartering an association in advance can provide access to communication tools and resources that can help in the planning and promotion of your event. Or the event itself can provide an opportunity to rally folks and create buy-in for an organized association. 
Click here to learn more.

  • Have you requested an updated contact list of your alumni?  (If you have an alumni association, you already have direct access to this yourselves.)
  • Would you like mailing labels generated at headquarters to assist you?
  • Would you like a formal resolution and plaque honoring your group’s celebration?
  • Are you interested in a VIP guest from the council or foundation board, or a member of the professional staff to attend your event?  Early outreach and invitations help greatly in this regard.
  • How are you gathering, tracking, and sharing updated contact information?  (Chartered associations have direct access for updating records.)
  • What current information would you like to have about the Fraternity so that you can share it with your alumni as part of your promotion and/or as part of your event?
  • Would you like to have TKE or school swag at your event?

If you are having custom items made (shirts, glassware, etc.), please be sure you are using a greek licensed vendor.

Your Alma Mater

  • Who would you speak to on campus to determine the dates of major future events that you may want to target or avoid?
  • Who on campus can you contact to access archives and historical items?
  • Might the institution be able to offer university staff to help “host” or “staff” in a visible way and/or to help support in the background?
  • Would a full tour of campus or of specific facilities be something you would like to make available to your guests?
  • Are there any other campus venues you would like access to as part of your event?
  • Can your school assist with promotion and outreach?  If you’re hosting within a campus reunion weekend or homecoming, can they include your event in their promotional materials?

A Quality Experience...Memories for a Lifetime

You can build an incredible event by paying attention to the broad strokes while at the same time sweating the small stuff.  The key is to plan in advance and to get more people involved.

The Alumni Experience

  • Will you be doing any recognition/awards? 
    (Military service, TKE/school volunteer, TKE/school donor, furthest traveled, oldest/youngest Frater, best represented class
  • Have you considered holding a ritual?  The Fraternity for Life ritual is intended for graduating seniors and is always available for alumni. Have you made arrangements for the necessary ritual equipment and have you planned time for practicing?  (Fraternity for Life pins are available at no cost for chartered alumni associations.)  Do not overlook the impact of sitting in the triangle and passing the gavel with each other again.
  • Do you want to do any fundraising as for the Chapter, TKE Educational Foundation, St. Jude, School, combination?
  • If you want to give money to your chapter, do you want to give it to them directly or direct it and protect it as a gift held for them by the Foundation?
  • How can you promote Life Loyal Teke memberships during your event?  You can help your fellow Fraters be more connected and get a subscription to THE TEKE with a small annual gift.
  • Will you be raising funds prior to, during, or after the event?  Or all three?
  • How can you honor Fraters who have passed into the Chapter Eternal? If you are offering any posthumous awards, are you inviting anyone from the family?
  • Are you inviting Fraters to bring memorabilia with them? Do you have a space to present those, and also a means to keep them safe?
  • Can you incorporate messages from Fraters who are unable to attend? Could they send cards or video messages ahead of time?
  • Are you doing any kind of raffles/giveaways as part of your event?
  • Have you thought about when and where you can get a nice photo of the event? Please be sure to share this with headquarters so we can post it on social media for you.

The Collegiate Experience

  • How can the current collegiates benefit from seeing this event and participating in the brotherhood? How are you involving the Histor?
  • What kind of opportunity can you create for the alumni to hear from the current collegiates about what it’s like in the chapter and on the campus today?
  • If your home chapter is not currently open, is this an opportunity to discuss possibilities toward rechartering and to organize yourselves?
  • How might collegiates be able to help in the planning ahead of time? How can they help onsite during your event?

Share Your Best Practices

We all have advice to share. From success stories to "don't do what we did" stories, TKE Nation's alumni and volunteers are a wealth of information. We welcome you to submit your events and advice so that we can try to highlight and share your best practice tips as well.

Please send your submissions to Alumni Engagement Director Chris Niles at: cniles@tke.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!