Fraternity alumni bring a lot to the table. They are battle-hardened from their days in the fraternity. They have the benefit of perspective to see how the fraternity set them up for future success. And, of course, they remember the friendships that were forged in fraternal brotherhood.
It is natural to want to get them back for an alumni event, but it has to be done right or the event will be a flop.
First off, think about what type of event the alumni will want to have. Guys in their 30s and 40s aren’t always jazzed up to hang out at the house. Your best option is to do something like attend the school’s homecoming football game. That will be a big enough draw on it’s own, and it a natural time to reconnect with the alumni.
Of course, once you determine what you want to do, you must schedule it far in advance. Weekends book up fast when kids have ballgames and wives plan dinner dates. The more advance notice you can give the alumni the better.
Assuming you have selected the event, and have given enough time to plan, your next step is to get the alumni excited about the event. To do that, you best bet is to contact your alumni that are active in the fraternity and get them to help you push the event.
Also, send multiple emails updating the alumni of who is planning on attending. If an alum sees that several of the brothers he is close to are going to attend; that could be the little push he needs to attend himself.
Next, and most importantly, be respectful around the alumni and especially their family. If the alumni brother brings his wife and his kids by to have a hot dog at the tailgate, he doesn’t want them to hear a barrage of swear words that would make a marine blush. He probably doesn’t want his five-year-old seeing brothers do keg stands or hitting the beer bong either. Remember to be respectful of the alumni brother’s families.
Assuming you taken care of all that, sit back and enjoy the experience. Ask the old guys questions about the good old days, and listen. It is an awesome experience to learn about the men who came before you. You don’t get many opportunities to hear those stories, so take advantage of it.
Finally, be sure to thank the alumni for attending both in person, and by letter. If they have taken the time to come to your event, they are truly dedicated to the fraternity. The very least the chapter can do it acknowledge their dedication with a simple thank you note.