Alumni Engagement Guide

Cal Poly has over 180,000 proud alumni living throughout the world who are excited to connect with students, be involved and mentor, and give back to causes they care about. As a student organization, we encourage you to build relationships with alumni and tap into their network of career opportunities, resources, and knowledge as you prepare for life outside of Cal Poly. Here are some ways you can effectively engage alumni in your group, club, or organization’s ongoing activities.

Engagement Opportunities

First, think about HOW you can engage alumni: 

  • Events, conferences, meetings: Alumni love to come back and speak to students, lead sessions, and facilitate discussions. 
  • Mentorship and volunteering: Would your group benefit from career mentors, or having alumni come back to volunteer at an event? 
  • If your organization is related to a profession, are there companies that you would like to meet with or potentially visit for a tour?

After you determine HOW you would engage alumni, put together a list of potential engagement opportunities and send it to the Clubs and Organizations Office. Do this at the beginning of each quarter so staff have time to connect with the appropriate alumni. The list will be reviewed and shared with Alumni Relations, individual colleges, Career Services, and University Development which are areas that frequently engage with Alumni. We will work to find alumni to connect to your club or organization.

If you have alumni that are currently engaged with your club or organization, make sure to keep a list with their contact information. Share that list at the end of the year with the Clubs and Organizations Office so the information can be passed on to future club members.

Fundraising

Most clubs and organizations will engage in some form of fundraising throughout the year. Here are some tips to make fundraising easier: 

  • Determine the fundraising priorities for the year. Donors like to give to specific items or events, not just general operations. 
  • Make a list of your wants and needs and be prepared to share it with potential donors. 
  • Consider a letter writing campaign. Have members send 10 letters to people they know asking for support. 
  • Use events like Giving Tuesday and Poly Gives to promote the needs of your group.
  • Know that people like to make gifts at the end of the year for tax purposes (December), and at the end of the fiscal year (June). 
  • Keep in mind that some small scale fundraisers are more work than they are worth. Example: Chipotle has to make $300 before they give you anything from the sales you generate. 
  • If you are asking a company for a donation over $1,000 first consult with Student Affairs Development who will help you craft a message and strategy around the ask. 
  • Apply to use Spur Change, the new crowdfunding platform in the spring. This is great if you have a specific goal or item you are raising money for.

General Things To Know

  • Gifts to Cal Poly programs are made through the Cal Poly Foundation. The Cal Poly Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that manages private funds to advance Cal Poly’s mission. 
  • Have any checks be made out to the Cal Poly Foundation with your club or organization in the “memo” line. Those checks should be sent to Anthonia Edgren (Building 117, Heron Hall-Room 109) for processing. This ensures your supporters get the information they need so their gift is tax deductible. Checks made out to club/organization members or checks deposited in other accounts are not. 
  • If you are having a fundraiser and want an easy way to share the link for supporters to give online, contact Anthonia Edgren for a personalized giving link. 
  • There are many ways to make a gift…alumni, parents, and friends of the university who are interested in giving can write a check, give online, establish trusts, donate 401ks, etc. For more information on giving options visit: giving.calpoly.edu. 
  • If your parents plan on donating to your club or organization, make sure they check to see if their company has a donation matching program. This is often a missed opportunity to receive more money.
  • If you receive a donation, always write a thank you note. Student Affairs will send out a general thank you, but a personalized letter from your club or organization means more.
  • Be respectful of local businesses in the community. There are over 300 clubs at Cal Poly and dozens of local non-profits in the area who are also fundraising for good causes. If you are going to ask a company (whether it be a restaurant, store, etc.) for support or to host a fundraiser, know that you are probably not the only one asking. At the beginning of each school year, map out when your fundraisers are going to be and ask businesses early. 
  • When asking alumni to come back and volunteer, mentor, or give back make sure to be mindful of their time. Most of our alumni live in the Bay Area or Southern California, where it’s a 4 hour drive and a hotel stay for them to come up here. Make sure you engage them in events, mentoring opportunities, or volunteer activities that are well organized and worth their time.

Resources

Anthonia Edgren

Director of Development, Student Affairs

aedgren@calpoly.edu | 805-756-5920

 

Chip Neunschwander

Assistant Director, Student Clubs and Organizations

rneuensc@calpoly.edu | 805-756-5467

 

You may also contact your College Development Office for guidance:

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences: Russ Kabaker | rkabaker@calpoly.edu

College of Architecture and Environmental Design: Lorna Malcolm | lmalcolm@calpoly.edu

Orfalea College of Business: Mary Kelting | mkelting@calpoly.edu

College of Engineering: Elise Erb | eerb@calpoly.edu

College of Liberal Arts: Dave Cohune | dcohune@calpoly.edu

College of Science and Math: Ruzena Brar | rkbrar@calpoly.edu

Cal Poly Athletics: Ashley Offermann | aofferma@calpoly.edu

 

Information of Spur Change:

https://crowdfund.calpoly.edu

 

Information on how, where, and why to give:

giving.calpoly.edu

Related Content

Spotlight

Cal Poly Homepage Link

More on Spotlight

Admissions

Admissions Link

Link to the Admissions Website for information on selection criteria, application deadlines, creating your VIP page and more!

Admissions

LEAD Awards

LEAD Awards Link

More at LEAD Awards