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Start your own chapter
Thinking of starting up your own chapter? Find out how by clicking on the Chapter Start-Up Guide below.
Alumni groups provide valuable resources and experiences for alumni. They offer a chance to develop a career path, to build relationships, networks and opportunities, to bring a favorite project to fruition, and to have a good time.
They also offer an opportunity to give back to the University. Alumni groups and their leaders play an important role as ambassadors for York. They are an essential part of successful awareness campaigns, advocacy programs and student recruitment. And as alumni groups help build the University’s reputation, they enhance the value of your York degree.
We can’t establish, build and nurture these groups without strong, dynamic alumni volunteers to lead the way — in short, without people like you. With the help of this startup guide, we hope that you will take the opportunity to become an alumni volunteer, and work with your University.
Chapter or Branch? What’s the difference?
The University divides its alumni groups into two categories: chapters and branches.
A Chapter is a group based on common background and objectives (i.e., the Faculty of Environmental Studies Chapter, the Black Alumni Chapter, the Critical Disability Studies Chapter, the Careers and Kids Chapter).
A Branch is a group based on geographic location (i.e., the Paris Branch, the Vancouver Branch).
The start-up phase of an alumni group involves three key steps:
1. Contact the Director to discuss your concept
First, do you want to establish an interest-focused or geography-based Chapter? Arrange to forward your resume and schedule an interview, in person or by telephone. The Director, Alumni will review the proposal in consultation with the Chapters Committee of the York University Alumni Association.
2. Recruit at least two like-minded alumni
You will need two additional alumni in order to establish the required founding Executive of three. You and your co-organizers will then sign a Letter of Agreement outlining your role and the responsibilities of Alumni Office staff. It is important to designate one member as your Alumni Office liaison.
3. Appoint / Elect the executive and explore possibilities
Organize an informal committee meeting to decide on an inaugural get-together or event. The Alumni Office will be pleased to act as a sounding board for your ideas and to provide the necessary support for a successful launch.
Events are the lifeblood of any alumni group and so the Alumni Office encourages the organization of a wide variety of activities.
Events may fall into one of several categories:
- Social events (pub nights, sports events)
- Cultural events (gallery tours, concerts)
- Community service events (Habitat for Humanity, food and clothing drives, Terry Fox Run)
- University service events (new student send-offs, recruitment sessions, mentoring)
- Educational events (conferences, speakers, book clubs)
- Sports clubs and events
- Young family events (new parent groups, mother/father and me physical activities)
Event planning and reporting materials are available from the Alumni Office.
Once you’ve decided on an event, submit your activity plan to the Alumni Office for support and funding consideration.
It really is up to you – successful alumni events come in all types and sizes.
- York alumni in British Columbia get together every summer for a family-oriented picnic, with games, raffles and activities for the kids
- Carleton groups have held a Celtic dance evening and a "Sexually Speaking with Dr. Ruth" lecture
- The Harvard Alumni Startups Chapter has hosted Summer marketing clinics and roundtable seminars on topics such as Entrepreneurship and Technology Licensing
- York’s 5th Quarter Club, the chapter for Varsity Football alumni, hosts a golf tournament every summer
- The University of Western Ontario has initiated on-line research seminars (Genealogical Research and Finding Health Care Resources)
- NYU groups have held cooking demonstration events, park clean-ups, expert career panels and the more traditional wine tasting
- York’s Geography Chapter has hosted viewings of antiquities and artifacts from Ecuador, Peru, Borneo, India and Sumatra
It is important to note that Alumni Groups may not be separately incorporated, are not constituted as charitable organizations and therefore may not issue tax receipts.
Fundraising in support of York University is managed through the York University Division of Advancement and so alumni groups who would like to engage in fundraising activities should do so in conjunction with the Division. Staff will assist with the development of specific fundraising projects and advise on issues related to Canada Revenue Agency rules on tax receipting, student award minimums, matching gift programs, clearance matters related to contacting potential donors, establishing endowments, and more. We would be pleased to discuss these or any related fundraising issues. Simply call the York Alumni Office at 416.650.8159 for more information.
The York University Alumni Association (YUAA) is committed to providing goods, services, and programs that facilitate the life-long process of education and personal development for all York graduates.
The YUAA is equally committed to advancing the interests of York University itself through advocacy, counsel, philanthropy and any other form of volunteer assistance. The graduates of York University have a unique and valuable role to fill promoting the excellence, welfare and prestige of the University.
- All decisions and subsequent actions of York University alumni Chapters will support the aims expressed in the Mission Statement.
- Chapter leaders will endeavor to make all decisions as a team to enhance the effectiveness of the group and ensure that careful consideration is given to all options.
- No activity undertaken by the group shall create a discernable advantage for any one member.
- No member of an alumni group may speak on behalf of the University or the YUAA without the Alumni Office’s approval. In all circumstances, requests for comment from members of the media should be referred to the Alumni Office.
- All decisions and actions of members and officers of chapters and branches are open to review by the YUAA Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is the final arbitrator of whether or not decisions and actions support the aims expressed in the YUAA Mission Statement.
- All members of the group Executive are responsible for maintaining good order by faithfully adhering to the Association’s Code of Conduct and Operating Procedures.
N.B.: The Alumni Office reserves the right to withdraw funding from and/or disband any alumni group that consistently operates outside either or both the Code of Conduct and Operating Procedures established in this manual.
York or YUAA is the owner or licensee, as the case may be, of the name York University Alumni Association, York University and other names, and certain trade marks, abbreviations, designs and symbols which have come to be associated with YUAA or York University. No one may use these names, marks, abbreviations, designs or symbols without the prior written consent of the owner or licensee (YUAA or York University as the case may be). YUAA or York University may terminate the ability of any person or group to continue as a chapter or branch of YUAA at any time for breach of this provision, effective immediately.
Three officers are required to found a Chapter: President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer. Members will appoint or elect the executive for twelve months. The method chosen is dependent on the total number of members. If members have been appointed at the outset this method will be replaced by election when numbers warrant. The executive may expand as membership numbers, tasks and activities require.
Annual Membership Meeting and Reporting
The group will gather at least once every twelve months for meeting that reports on activities, membership growth, finances and other relevant matters.
For the meeting to be considered officially constituted, the Alumni Office requires that both the group membership and the Alumni Office receive written notice no later than 14 days before the meeting date.
In addition, the following reports are required each calendar year:
- Minutes of the Annual General Meeting
- Year-end Financial Statement
- Event report(s)
- Updated membership list
The Alumni Office will provide reporting templates on request.
The Alumni Office also welcomes additional reports and feedback throughout the year.
Finances and Financial Accountability
On presentation of an operations/ financial plan for the first year of operation, each new group receives a start-up grant. Subsequently, a base budget will be provided each year to offset any general organizational and/or activity costs anticipated in the annual plan, such as mailings, material production, event promotion, etc.
The ongoing provision of annual funding is contingent on the results presented in the previous Year-end Financial Statement.
Groups located in Canada will need to open a BMO Bank of Montreal Community Account with two signing officers. The Community Account is a lower cost interest bearing deposit account designed for small not-for-profit organizations.
The university’s Internal Audit Department reserves the right to audit financial statements.
Event Financing and Reporting
Events may be financed from a variety of sources. These include:
- The annual group base budget
- Fees, contributions and ticket sales
- Alumni Office special subsidies
- Subsidies from other areas of the University
Depending on the event category different funding formulas will apply as follows:
- Most social, cultural, educational and community service events should be self-financed from the alumni group base budget, fees, ticket-prices, or a combination of sources
- Events held at the request of the University (i.e., University service events) will be underwritten by the Alumni Office, and will not require funds from the group base budget
In addition, the Alumni Office can, in some circumstances, facilitate corporate sponsorships for an event.
Sponsorship Guidelines and Application Forms are available from the Alumni Office.
In an effort to foster best practices, the Alumni Office requires that groups provide activity reports, including financial statements, for each event they produce.
The activities of Chapters are covered under York University’s Liability policy if the group has provided written notification of the activity to the Alumni Office and received written approval in return. Events that involve highrisk physical activity or the consumption of alcohol will be reviewed by the University’s Insurance and Risk Management Department to make sure appropriate planning is in place.
Chapters and Branches should compile basic year-over-year statistics that provide counts of:
- Volunteer participation levels
- Number of activities undertaken
- Percentage of targeted alumni participating
This type of information is invaluable for measuring the growth and development of alumni groups and for determining the success of events.
In addition, group executives may want to conduct surveys to gauge interest in or satisfaction with various initiatives — from specific events to general programs.
The Manager, Alumni Research and Analytics has developed a series of basic survey templates that can help you manage your research needs effectively. In addition, by using these standardized surveys, you can compare your results to those of other Chapters and Branches and gain greater insight into your area.
Examples of survey templates will be provided by the Alumni Office on request.
It is important to remember that the tendency for membership to fluctuate can affect volunteer organizations like alumni groups. Therefore, while recognizing the importance of hard evidence in measuring success, considerable room must be made for alumni comments and other anecdotal information.
For instance, a turnout of a few enthusiastic participants who are keen enough to want to begin planning the next project has incremental value and shouldn’t necessarily be compared unfavourably with a larger group whose participation is less enthusiastic.
York’s Alumni Office is working hard to build and use our resources to serve the University and our alumni more efficiently and effectively. We’re here to help you make your Chapter the best it can be.
We offer management assistance with:
- Material production
- Surface and electronic mail services
- Web-based publicity and public relations on the York Alumni site
- Planning and reporting forms, formats and helpful hints
- Membership segmentation research (scholarship winners, student club participants, varsity sports teams, former work-study students etc.)
And resources for Chapter growth and development:
- Leadership coaching
- Best practices guidelines
- Liaison with alumni groups at other institutions
- Conferences and workshops
- Web site templates and hosting for your own Chapter site
- Annual funding and progress assessments
All faculties and departments of York University appreciate the value of vibrant relations with Alumni. The Council is made up of University staff from a wide variety of York faculties, departments and special interest affiliations. It was founded to help coordinate efforts among York’s many constituencies.
Collaboration is the way to minimize effort while maximizing effect.
- Clarifying policies collectively and ensuring everybody has the necessary tools to carry them out will save time and energy consuming misunderstandings
- Sharing information about ideas and outcomes will also reduce inefficiency and quite possibly improve the efficacy of a proposed activity
- Joining forces with similar identified segments across the University could create enough momentum to give an event a better chance of success
The Student Alumni organization "York is U" provides alumni groups with an early opportunity to liaise with their future members. They are an invaluable source of information about the interests and attitudes of incoming alumni.
The YUAA is governed by a Board of Directors that is drawn from a deeply committed group of York alumni who have volunteered their time to represent the wide range of faculties, schools and units at York. The Board of Directors is planning to establish committees to assist in the work of the Alumni Office, including a group to help support Chapters.
Download a PDF version of the York University Alumni Association's Start-Up Guide for Alumni Groups