GROUP HANDBOOK

Welcome to the University of Oxford Alumni Group Network, and thank you for taking the time to be part of the University’s largest person-to-person volunteer programme

With over 150 groups, based in more than 90 countries and serving a network of over 320,000 alumni, you have the potential to make a tangible impact on the lives of Oxonians all over the globe.

The groups are an invaluable source of support to the University and are run by people like you, the alumni volunteers who give their time and skills generously. We are hugely grateful for your ongoing efforts and support. The Alumni Office regularly updates an online directory of the alumni groups and we encourage you to contact each other, to share your ideas and seek advice. For a list, please visit the map of groups.

Alumni groups act as regional ambassadors and trusted advocates for the University. They also support current and prospective students and help to keep Oxonians connected to the University and to each other, wherever they reside or through shared interests. You, as a volunteer, are in unique position to showcase the University of Oxford to your local community. The Networks Team is here to support you and we provide a range of services and support to help sustain and promote alumni groups we are happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Networks Team, University of Oxford Alumni Office

Contents

 
Overview

Purpose

Each alumni group shares central aims and objectives but operates autonomously from the University. The aims and objectives include:

  • Providing alumni with regional networking and social events
  • Assisting and supporting Oxford graduates who are new to an area/region
  • Supporting the strategic aims of the University, including highlighting its commitment to research and education; strengthening its global outlook; promoting outreach; and fostering lifelong connections between the University and its alumni
  • Assisting the University with activities that benefit current and/or prospective students (i.e. freshers’ events, schools’ outreach, creating student bursaries, and career mentoring)
  • Committees

Each alumni group is run by volunteers who form an active organising committee. As a minimum this should include a President/Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. Some groups have a range of additional positions including Membership, Events, Publicity and IT officers. All President/Chairs must have matriculated at the University of Oxford. For more information on alumni group committees, see Committee Structures.

Recognition

The formal relationship between an alumni group and the University is established through approval by the Alumni Board and the signing an alumni group recognition agreement. A copy of the current edition of this agreement is available from the Alumni Office’s Networks Team upon request.
If you are new to an alumni group committee or you are considering starting a new group, then the information contained within this online handbook will provides details of roles and responsibilities, as well as useful resources and advice.
Responsibilities (a full list can be found in the Alumni Group Recognition Agreement)

An Oxford alumni group should aim to fulfil the following core responsibilities:

  • Adhere to the guidelines set out in the Alumni Group Recognition Agreement.
  • Adhere to the University’s branding guidelines (see Oxford Alumni Network Logo Guidelines).
  • Organise a minimum of two events per year.
  • Contribute to the termly ‘Your Networks News’ e-newsletter sent to all alumni group representatives.
  • Actively encourage new members and welcome all alumni and their guests, without discrimination or prejudice.
  • Communicate with the Alumni Office – sharing details of planned events and reporting, at least annually, on activities by completing the Update Survey and including the Networks Team in the group’s mailing list.
  • Be financially self-sustaining.
  • Promote the positive image of the University of Oxford at a local and regional level.
Section 1

Finances and insurance

All Oxford alumni groups must be self-financing. How this is achieved is left to the discretion of each group. Some groups charge an annual membership fee, while others charge a one-off joining fee or add a discretionary amount to the price of tickets for events. 
In all cases we strongly advise that each committee includes a Treasurer. Their responsibilities should include keeping a basic written record of income and expenditure, together with a balance sheet. They should also present the group’s accounts to a group meeting on an annual basis. See more on the role of the Treasurer in the Alumni Group Committee Structures insert.

The Alumni Office is able to provide some financial support to groups each year (usually up to £100). For example we can reimburse speakers for travel expenses within the UK and we may be able to help reimburse speaker travel expenses to international groups. To be eligible for financial support a group must have:

  • Signed the Alumni Group Recognition Agreement.
  • Recently completed the Update Survey.
  • Included the Networks Team on their email distribution list 

It is also important that all requests for finance are discussed with the Networks Team in advance. Unfortunately any expenses that have not been agreed will be rejected.

Once the expenses have been agreed, the Networks Team will guide the group through the process for claiming expenses.

If you are considering charging a group membership fee, then a number of factors need to be taken into account. Membership fees could cover some, or all of the following costs:

  • Guest speaker expenses (travel, accommodation, subsistence).
  • Subsidising event tickets for current students or recent graduates.
  • A contribution to any bursary or award scheme that the group may wish to establish.

The Alumni Office recommends that you make clear to your members how membership fees are used, as well as any benefits associated with becoming a paid member of a group. For example, paid members may have the opportunity to vote at the group’s AGM or be eligible for discounted tickets to events.

A group’s events programme should generally work on a break-even basis, which would mean pricing the tickets at cost price. However, the group may decided to subsidise particular events, which would require the price of other events to be slightly above cost price. In general, costs should be kept at a reasonable level to make events accessible and encourage attendance.

It is advisable for alumni groups to have a bank account in the name of the group. We realise this is not always possible for international groups. The Alumni Office can provide a formal letter on request to groups who have signed the alumni group recognition agreement confirming that they are an officially recognized group if this is required. We also advise having two signatories for the group bank account.

The following are examples of financial good practice:

  • Consider the full calendar year when developing the group’s budget. It may be that some events can be part-subsidised, whereas other should aim to make a small profit to compensate.
  • Estimate likely income based on projected ticket prices (taking into account income from the previous year, where possible).
  • Regularly monitor income against expenditure.
  • Reconcile the group’s accounts as soon after each event as possible.
  • Estimate expenses as accurately as possible based on received quotes.

The University recommends that alumni groups obtain appropriate insurance for their activities. The University’s insurances do not cover alumni group activities or officers, or members of group committees. The University arranges its insurance through Zurich Insurance, who would be happy to hear from UK-based groups should they require cover, however this should not be taken as an endorsement of Zurich Insurance by the University. The University cannot advise in relation to insurance needs, or the merits of particular insurers or insurance policies. Accordingly, alumni groups are asked to seek their own advice.

Alumni groups should also carry out risk assessments before any events and make sure that event attendees are aware of any on-site risks. Groups should request allergy and accessibility information from participants in advance to enable to event to run safely. This (and all) data should be held securely. See the Data Protection page for more information.

Section 2

Membership recruitment

The Alumni Office can facilitate email recruitment drives for all groups and pay for postal mailings for regional UK groups. A membership drive will promote activities and events to alumni who are new to the area. They can also help to re-engage current members.

A mass membership drive should ideally be focused around a particular event or series of events. Including an invitation to an event when you initially reach out to potential new members is more likely to engage the recipients and encourage involvement in the group.

The process for a recruitment mailing is as follows:

  1. Contact the Networks team as soon as you think you would like a mailing. Ideally we aim to send the message 6-8 weeks before the event date, so the more notice the team has, the more likely we’ll be able to support the mailing.
  2. Complete a Group Mailing Request Form, which includes details about the group and the event. This is available from the Networks Team.
  3. Together with the Networks Team, define the geographical area being targeted. The Networks Team will decide whether a postal mailing or email-shot would be the most effective communication.
  4. Content will be approved internally before being submitted to the group for final approval.
  5. Responses will be delivered directly to the group and must be managed in a secure manner, in compliance with local data protection regulations. 

All communication to Oxford alumni will abide by UK law (regardless of the country of origin of the group or the intended recipients) including GDPR, as well as the requirements from the University's Development and Alumni Relations System (DARS). 

These requirements are intended to:

  • Make clear how a recipient’s data are collected, stored and used by the University, and by the group
  • Provide a simple and transparent mechanism for recipients to opt-out from future communications of this type

For more information on how to comply with data protection regulations please read the Data Protection for Alumni Groups section. The Networks Team can provide draft Privacy Notice templates for alumni groups. 

  • Appoint a Membership Officer who is responsible for recruiting and retaining group members
  • Consider the correlation between the demographics of the committee and the alumni in the area. The Alumni Office can provide area demographics on request.
  • Ensure your events calendar is varied, in order to engage a diverse range of alumni.
  • Publicise all forthcoming events during all group activities.
  • Announce alumni group events in local news and social media channels. Recommend to your membership that they promote the group through their own channels. Ensure all new members are warmly welcomed and integrated into group events.
  • Introduce ‘freshers’ send-off parties into the annual calendar. These people are the next generation of alumni and group members. For more information on freshers’ parties read the A Guide to Alumni Group Events insert.
  • If your event is out of term time, the Alumni Office may be able to promote it to current students.
Section 3

A guide to Alumni Group events

A busy events programme can help strengthen a group’s membership by retaining existing members and attracting new ones. It should be varied in order to appeal to different ages, interests and affiliations. Below we have listed some ideas for types of events that your group might wish to organise.

For many groups, a lecture or presentation by an Oxford academic or senior member of staff is the highlight of their event calendar. Speaker events provide a wonderful opportunity to strengthen alumni connections to the University and provide an enjoyable and informative learning experience. Details on researching and identifying speakers are included at the end of this document. The Alumni Office will endeavor to let groups know if academics are visiting their area.

These events are seen as a strategic priority for the alumni groups and the Networks team helps to promote the events directly to the incoming students. Hosting a an informal send-off party for students from the local area who have been offered a place at Oxford provides an opportunity for the students to meet each other prior to beginning their studies and it’s also a great way to encourage early engagement in the group. Look out of the email in early Spring which sets out the process and deadlines!

Trips to local museums, historic houses, gardens, theatres and art galleries followed by a social gathering at a nearby café, restaurant or pub, are often very popular events. Oxford College choirs quite often tour abroad during vacations, so it may be possible for international alumni groups to arrange an event around one of their performances.

Networking events aimed at encouraging members to find out more about the careers and experiences of fellow alumni are particularly attractive to recent graduates and younger alumni. They can be formal with a speaker or theme, or informal over a meal or drinks.

Family picnics, visits to the local zoo or attending a show, or child-friendly museum are a particularly good way of getting younger alumni who have busy lives and young families involved in your group. Please consider any safe-guarding issues and make sure the accompanying adult is aware that they have full responsibility for the child during the event. 

Purely social gatherings such as drinks parties, dinners, sports events (such as the Boat Race) or events around a significant date are popular. If there’s a local alumni-owned bar or restaurant that you can use – even better!

Some groups are actively involved in outreach activities with schools in their local area. The aim of outreach activities is to encourage applications to Oxford and to address any questions and concerns from teachers and students alike. 

We ask that before taking any direct outreach activity with locals schools, that groups and their members seek guidance from the Networks Team. 

Organising an event in collaboration with another alumni group can boost attendance and halve the workload. Suggestions include events with other Oxford or Cambridge alumni groups, Business School groups or alumni groups from other institutions in your local area.

Many alumni groups ask for assistance in finding academic speakers. The Alumni Office is happy to advise on potential speakers for alumni group events. 

Listed below are some potentially useful sources of information. These should provide a good starting point for your research.

Section 4

Alumni event management checklist

To successfully manage an alumni event, especially a high-profile one, there are a number of steps that the Alumni Office would recommend that event organisers follow. The list below is intended to help support groups and provide some suggestions for good practice.

The timescales involved in planning each event will vary according to the scale of the event. Some major events need to be planned at least a year in advance, while others may only require a few weeks’ preparation. It is always advisable to start your event planning as early as possible.

Key considerations 

  • The aims of the event. 
  • The event date, time, venue, and catering requirements.
  • Key roles and responsibilities including the lead organiser and named volunteers.
  • Arranging a speaker (if applicable).
  • Working out the cost and ticket price for group members. 
  • Publicity, marketing and invites.
  • How guests will book for the event
  • Additional requirements, such as audio-visual equipment or accessible facilities. 
  • Risk assessments – include any plans for vulnerable adults and the safeguarding of children.
  • Preparing any badges or guest lists.
  • Preparing a table plan, if required. 
  • Post-event follow-up (for example, thank you notes to speakers and volunteers). 

It is recommended that members are given at least six weeks notice for any event. Alumni groups often find it useful to hold an annual planning meeting to determine the events programme for the year. This can then be circulated to members once dates have been confirmed.

Suggested timeline

  • Determine the goal of the event e.g: celebrating a special occasion, enabling alumni to connect with Oxford faculty or assisting freshers to meet alumni or students from the local area. 
  • Draft a timeline for key tasks and deadlines.
  • Prepare an event budget and spreadsheet to keep track of spending. 
  • Research possible venues, taking into account considerations such as availability, capacity, accessibility, costs, layout and transport links.
  • Agree a suitable venue and date.
  • Develop the timings for the event.
  • Identify and approach a suitable speaker, if required (please see A Guide to Alumni Group Events insert).
  • Review, sign and return the venue contract (if required).
  • Determine the cost of the event for attendees.
  • Circulate a save the date notification to members.
  • Notify the Alumni Office of the event to see if we can assist with publicising it, via social media sites, and/or by making it part of a mailing recruitment drive (see the Alumni Group Membership Recruitment insert).
  • Promote the event on the group’s website and via social media channels.
  • Identify and invite any relevant VIPs. 
  • Send out invitations (email and/or postal) and set up an event registration facility (if applicable). 
  • Monitor replies.
  • For a speaker event, request details regarding the lecture title, speaker biography and possibly a short abstract to help market the event.
  • Check on room layout and accessibility issues.
  • Complete a risk assessment if required for the venue.
  • Contact speaker to determine any audio-visual needs, as well as confirming transport and accommodation if necessary.
  • Arrange an audio visual technician to be present, if applicable. 
  • Investigate catering options, including menu (with dietary options) and drinks selection.
  • Book entertainment and submit deposit, if needed.
  • Consider room decoration, such as any flowers or banners etc. 
  • Finalise the menu and other catering decisions.

  • Reserve parking at venue and check details for disabled parking. 
  • Undertake a first draft of the running order for the event (e.g. times for arrival, set-up, registration, drinks, guest lecture, dinner, thanks from the Chair and departure). 
  • Send an email reminder to members and other guests.
  • Continue to collect attendee names. 
  • Identify volunteers to help on the day.
  • Send a final email reminder to members, including a request for any accessibility or dietary issues.
  • Chase any outstanding payments from guests. 
  • Confirm volunteer assignments and roles. 
  • Finalise arrangements with the speaker (if applicable).
  • Finalise attendee list.
  • Produce name badges if required. 
  • Create any signage required (registration, directional).
  • Produce table plan (if applicable) and send to venue. 
  • Contact venue/caterer with final numbers.
  • Arrange for delivery of any materials to the venue.
  • Finalise the running order. 
  • Develop a post-event survey, if appropriate. 
  • Arrive early with other committee members/ key volunteers.
  • Circulate contact list with mobile numbers to all staff/ volunteers (seek permission from all those on the list). 
  • Meet venue contact and undertake final room checks. 
  • Test audio-visual equipment and meet technician, if applicable. 
  • Meet musicians/other entertainment, if applicable. 
  • Organise registration area and name badges. 
  • Put up signage.
  • Relax and enjoy your event! 
  • Draft and send thank you letter to the speaker, chair and any VIP guests, if applicable.
  • Send evaluation survey and collect feedback.
  • Ask speakers to submit expenses claim form. 
Section 5

Criteria for membership

It is ultimately up to each group to decide and specify their group’s membership guidelines, but the University advocates that alumni groups are as inclusive as possible when considering their criteria for membership. The University therefore recommends that all alumni groups encourage not only Oxford alumni to participate, but also spouses and partners, parents of current and former students, as well as staff, friends and supporters of the University. 

Your group may wish to determine different levels of membership – for example, by differentiating between voting and non-voting members, honorary positions and so on.

Only fully matriculated alumni are eligible to be the President or Chair of the committee. Matriculated alumni, associate alumni and those with a strong proven connection to Oxford are eligible to be on the committee of an alumni group.

To read more about the difference between full and associate alumni please please read the page 'Eligibility for the Oxford Card and other benefits'.

Section 6

An introduction to Alumni Group constitutions

The Alumni Office recommends that each group has a formal constitution that provides a general framework for the operation of the group. It should clarify the group’s purpose and objectives, and contain enough information for the group to run effectively and without ambiguity.

Constitution elements

The group’s constitution should include reference to the following:

  • The name of and catchment area for the group (this is particularly important where a number of alumni groups exist within the same geographical area).
  • The purpose of the group – making sure it aligns with the Purposes set out in the Alumni Group Recognition Agreement.
  • The fact that the group is a non-profit organisation, organised for education/charitable purposes.
  • The criteria for group membership. In addition to alumni, group members can include spouses and partners, former University staff, friends of the University and parents of current or former students. Joint Oxford and Cambridge groups should also take their dual alumni audiences into consideration.
  • The committee structure, including the roles and their defined duties.
  • The rules governing the AGM and election of committee members.
  • The frequency of committee meetings.
  • Terms of office and procedures for removing committee members.
  • Membership fees, where applicable.
  • The process for amending the constitution.
  • Any requirements in the event that the group should dissolve.

A sample constitution can be requested from the Alumni Office, but should be used as a guide only. Once your group has agreed the final version of your constitution we ask that you send the Alumni Office a copy for its records. This will help smooth the transition between committee members in future years and keeps the Alumni Office informed of group activity. 

Section 7

Alumni Group committee structures

Every alumni group is reliant on the commitment and hard work of its volunteer organising committee. The President or Chair must be a matriculated alumnus of the University. Committees members can be matriculated alumni, associate alumni or those with a strong proven connection to the University of Oxford. In the case of joint Oxford and Cambridge groups, at least one committee member should have matriculated at Oxford.

Where possible, committees should meet at regular intervals to discuss their events programme, future plans and finances.

Volunteer roles

Having a number of volunteers on the committee is usually vital to the success and longevity of the alumni group. Some of our most active groups are run by committees comprising alumni representing different ages, colleges, subject areas and interests, as this helps ensure activities are varied and appeal to a wide range of alumni.

Committee structures may vary, but the Alumni Office’s recommendation is for a minimum of three committee members: a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Additional committee roles can be included and we have outlined some suggestions and role descriptions below. Please note, these are intended as a guide only, since committee structures usually evolve according to the profile of the group’s membership.

  • Organises all committee meetings, including setting dates and agendas.
  • Assists the Secretary in arranging events and activities.
  • Oversees officer transitions within the committee.
  • If appropriate, acts as the host at alumni group events.
  • Completes the Update Survey 
  • Takes and circulates minutes of group meetings if required.
  • Securely maintains contact details for the membership base, in line with relevant laws (please see the Data Protection for Alumni Groups insert for more information).
  • Maintains contact with the University’s Alumni Office to coordinate recruitment drives aimed at securing or growing membership, and to inform the Office of group events and activities.
  • Oversees the alumni group’s income and expenditure and, where applicable, maintains the group’s bank account.
  • If the group has an annual subscription, collects and records this.
  • Reports on the financial position of the group to each committee meeting and at the Annual General Meeting.
  • Works with the Secretary on pricing for each event and activity.
  • Where applicable and if pre-agreed by the Alumni Office, oversees reimbursements to speakers for travel expenses.
  • Arranges any necessary reimbursements to committee members for activities undertaken on behalf of the group.

Other volunteer roles

The following roles are optional and may only be appropriate for alumni groups with a particularly large and diverse membership.

  • Working with the Secretary, assumes responsibility for planning and finalizing events.
  • Develops the membership of the group through regular membership drives and support the Secretary with maintaining the secure membership list.
  • Works in conjunction with the Networks Team and Undergraduate Admissions Office to organise schools’ outreach activities in the area.
  • Maintains the group’s website and social media presence.
  • Publicises group events through online forums.

Terms of Office

Committee elections usually take place at the group’s AGM and it is our advice, that new appointments are staggered, where possible, to ensure an element of continuity and experience within the organising committee.

The election of committee members must be reported promptly to the Networks Team.

We recommend that the groups discuss succession planning and that Terms of Office are layed out in the group's constitution. 

Formal relationship with the University

The University relies on alumni groups to consistently act in the best interests of the University as ambassadors and advocates for Oxford. The University bears no responsibility for the financing of alumni groups and retains the sole discretion, at all times, to close a group, or require the exclusion of a committee member should he or she act in a way that could be construed as prejudicial to the University.

Section 8

Data protection for Alumni Groups

The information on this page is to help official alumni groups of the University, to manage the data they hold for alumni in a secure, fair and transparent manner, as required by relevant data protection law.

The General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on the 25th May 2018. It is an EU regulation that affects all organisations (whether they are inside or outside of the EU) that hold and process EU citizens’ data.

Only hold data that is essential. If you really need to share any of it, keep it to an absolute minimum. While you are holding the data, keep it safe and secure. And when you no longer need it, delete it. 

Data Privacy Notice – or data protection statement, privacy policy

Your group needs to create a Data Privacy Notice, which should accurately reflect what personal data you store, why you hold it and how you use it. It should also explain why and when you would share data with third parties (for example, dietary requirements with a dinner venue).

The University’s Privacy Notice for alumni and supporters etc. may help you write your own. The Networks Team may also be able to provide you with a draft template. 

You must also share your Privacy Notice with your members/mailing list, and it should also be attached to any communications sent to the mailing list, whether they are by email or post.

The key principles of data processing under GDPR

You will need to have a basis for processing information. These include consent, contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public task and legitimate interest. Most of your group activities will fall under:

  • Consent – the individual has told you that you can process their information. For some activities, such as email communications or holding sensitive information, consent will likely be the appropriate basis for processing.
  • Contract – such as event registration and processing of information for purposes of running an event or membership services.
  • Legitimate interest – holding onto information that is relevant to the purposes of your organisation. This cannot be intrusive or excessive.

Your purpose (what are you doing with the information) and the type of information you hold will help you to define what lawful basis you have.

Only hold what is needed.

Keep your records accurate and up to date. Make any updates and amendments to your data as soon as is possible – the legal requirement is one month.

Only keep the data for as long as is necessary. For example, when an event is over, delete the information that you have no need to retain for reuse. Don’t hold on to information ‘just in case’.

Who can access the data and why? Where is it stored? Make sure the data you hold is encrypted and secure (for example, have passwords on documents containing personal data).

Besides the principles, think about your documentation. If anyone asks you how you got their data, and what you do with it, what would your answer be? – and if you were at the receiving end of that answer, would you be happy with it?

The Networks Team / Alumni Office cannot offer you legal advice on how you hold your data or comply with GDPR, but if you have any questions, we will endeavour to answer them as far as we can. Please email us with any questions at: networks@alumni.ox.ac.uk.

Electronic direct marketing and GDPR

Electronic direct marketing includes any communication sent to promote the ideals of an organisation, such as event invitations, offers and benefits. Communications sent by email, text, social media or telephone, fall under new GDPR legislation, which means that you should hold consent to contact the alumni on your mailing list. Consent is an affirmative action of opting-in. Silence, pre-filled tick boxes and inactivity do not count as consent.

Mailing lists and GDPR

  • The Alumni Office sends regular recruitment mailings for all groups, where alumni in your area are asked to contact you directly to opt-in to your lists.
  • Any groups still holding a mailing list that was given to them by the Alumni Office (pre 2017) should by now have deleted this list and only make use of their own ‘opt-in’ list.  If you have any queries about which list you are using then we would suggest cleaning your data by removing any alumni that you do not have evidence of direct contact with (i.e. attendance at an event, or email asking to be involved in the group).
  • All lists should be stored securely in password protected documents or on encrypted discs.
  • Lists must not be shared outside your group leader / committee and should only be used for the purposes of communicating about your group’s activities.
  • It is not permitted for groups to share any contact detail updates with the University without first obtaining the consent of the individual concerned and with the relevant agreement in place.

Many groups will be based in countries subject to GDPR and will be able to refer to guidance from their own regulator, (their equivalent of the Information Commissioner, which covers the UK). We strongly encourage that you do so.

We have also listed below some ways that will help ensure data is used securely:

  • Only hold essential information: In practice this is likely to be first name (for salutation) and email address.
  • Ensure your data is kept up to date and that any unsubscribes are honoured.
  • Ensure that your password is secure and you do not share your log on details.
  • If moving to another system ensure that all data is deleted from the current system that you use.

Events best practise for GDPR

  • Events can be a great opportunity to add people to your mailing list and we would encourage you to always have sign-up sheets at your events. However, always ensure that you are clear what you will use this information for and don’t assume that you can use your event registration list as a ready-made mailing list.
  • Be aware of what information you are asking your guests for and only ask for the information you really need. For example, if you are not serving food there is no need to ask for dietary requirements.
  • If you plan on having an attendee list at your event, make sure you’ve asked permission to include people’s data and told them exactly what you plan to share. N.b: Members can only give permission to share their own data, not that of a guest.
  • If the list will go online, make sure it is on a private webpage, unless you’ve specified otherwise on sign-up.
  • At an event, keep paper attendee lists in a secure place where a member of the public couldn’t simply pick one up.
  • Only keep personal information for a specific period of time. It would be reasonable to share an attendee list up to a few weeks after an event, but not several years later.
  • It is always best practice to have a contract with your supplier (venue, caterer, etc.) that refers to data privacy.
  • Information that is required in order to run your event can usually be shared. Dietary requests are essential for caterers, as are full guest lists when venues have security responsibilities. However, if your venue only needs to know how many people are attending, only give them a number. If in doubt, share as little information as possible.
  • You must let the audience know if you are planning to take photos or film any part of your event. This can be done within the event joining instructions and we suggest you put signs up on the day. Guests must be given the option of opting-out. Any photos or films that are to be used in publicity, must have the consent from all included. 
Section 9

Alumni Group online engagement

Many alumni groups choose to have an online presence, such as an independently hosted website, a Facebook page or group, a LinkedIn group – or a mixture of all three. Having an up-to-date online presence can help:

  • Attract new members.
  • Keep existing members engaged and informed.
  • Promote events.
  • Simplify the work of the volunteer committee.

Of course, it’s important to ensure that you have a group member with the expertise and time to maintain the site/platform and that someone is lined up to replace them as and when necessary.

What to include?

As a minimum your online presence should include:

  • An introduction to the group.
  • Details of forthcoming events and how to book.
  • A way to join the group.

The Alumni Office offers WordPress templates as a website solution to officially recognised groups who have signed the alumni group recognition agreement. These are pre-populated with your group’s logo and set up so that they are ready for you to simply add content.

WordPress was chosen as a suitable content management system for groups as it is relatively easy to use and requires little to no knowledge of html code. The Alumni Office can provide you with a Website toolkit

If your group decides to build an independent website, it may wish to consider:

  • An automated join the group form.
  • Facility for members to update personal details and subscription preferences.
  • Online event booking facility.
  • Discussion boards for members.
  • Online membership fee payment. NB: Please choose a reputable payment system and include a disclaimer informing people at the point when they will be taken to an external site. We would also ask you to emphasise that the payment site is not associated with or endorsed by the University.

The Alumni Office can take no responsibility for independently hosted alumni group websites. Equally we do not monitor or approve them, and will only intervene in exceptional circumstances, for example, if content could be perceived as damaging to the reputation of the University. We therefore ask that you include the following statement prominently on your site:

<Group name> is an autonomous group for alumni of the University <living in ’x’/interested in ‘y’, etc> and operates independently of the University. Responsibility for this website and any and all activities associated with it are the full responsibility of the group and its organising committee. This website is not maintained, monitored, or in any way under the control of the University of Oxford. 

Please refer to the Oxford Alumni Network logo guidelines for details on using the alumni groups logo online.

Images for use online are available from the University’s picture library, Oxford University Images. The online library includes over 1,500 images of the collegiate University. To access the library, please contact the Networks Team in the first instance.

You may wish to consider promoting your alumni group on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook provides facilities for promoting news and events, as well as message board facilities for members to socially connect with each other. LinkedIn has a more professional focus and therefore may be more appropriate for interest groups or regional groups that organise a lot of career-related events. 

It’s worth noting that people are less likely to join a group platform that is not very well populated, so make sure that you have some content available, such as information on forthcoming events and photos, as soon as it is launched. 

Disclaimer – The Alumni Office requests that you include the following disclaimer on your social media pages to make it clear that is it not maintained or monitored by the University: ‘The <Group name> takes full responsibility for this page/ group, which is not operated by, under the authority of, or in association with, the University of Oxford.’

You may find the following resources helpful in setting up and running your site and managing your online presence: 

Section 10

Volunteers – recruitment, retention and succession planning

The success of every alumni group is dependent on the effort invested by its volunteer organising committee. For this reason, a group should always be seeking to identify, recruit and retain good volunteers. Clear role descriptions and an understanding of what might motivate someone to accept a committee position are also very useful.

Here are some suggested ways to recruit new volunteers:

  • Provide a tick-box option on all mailings and publicity asking members to volunteer to take a more active role.
  • Regularly publicise the volunteer roles available within the group, with a clear description of what each role entails.
  • Hold an annual planning meeting specifically to discuss forthcoming events and to obtain suggestions for volunteers who would like to help organise them.
  • Rather than one person organising the entire events programme, ask volunteers to organise at least one event each year. Ideally this would be an event in which they had a particular interest, whether academic, social, musical or career related. The volunteer then becomes the ‘prime-mover’ for that event.

The success of an alumni group can be heavily reliant on retaining engaged and enthusiastic volunteers. This involves investing time in ensuring that their roles are rewarding. Some suggestions for creating rewarding volunteer roles include:

  • Consider what motivates an individual volunteer and steer their role accordingly. 
  • Ensure role descriptions are flexible enough to be adapted to suit an individual volunteer. If a volunteer has some say over their particular role, they are more likely to be happy within it.
  • A simple ‘thank-you’ for organsing an event in front of members can really help to make a volunteer feel valued.
  • Track each volunteer’s term of office and be aware of how they are feeling, especially if they feel underutilised, or alternatively if they feel burdened by the responsibilities of the position
  • Invite all relevant volunteers to be consulted on group decisions that affect them and invite them to participate in relevant meetings and social plans.

Identifying future group leaders is an important task for any committee. Succession planning on an ongoing basis is essential to ensuring the continuity of an alumni group. If a group has momentum and a number of members are already involved in the organisational side, it should be easy to identify successors to the committee. 

Issues with volunteers

On extremely rare occasions, the work of a volunteer might become counterproductive to the activities of an alumni group, the morale of the committee or the membership. These situations need to be handled sensitively, particularly since the volunteer may not be aware of his or her impact. On such occasions it is recommended that advice is sought from the Networks Team. It is also recommended that all group constitutions contain a formal dismissal policy.