Tools for Volunteers
Smith is as strong as it is because of the work of volunteers. From recruiting students to raising funds for important initiatives, there are myriad ways for you to make a meaningful difference at Smith and in the lives of students and fellow alumnae. When alumnae work together for Smith, anything is possible.
- Give members opportunities to sign up on a club dues form, at an event, or through a survey.
- Ask other Smith women if they know of anyone who would be a good volunteer.
- Approach a potential volunteer personally. Let her know that her skills, talents and expertise would benefit Smith.
- Follow up on all offers of help. Don’t lose the chance; timing is key.
- Break major jobs into smaller ones. People are more likely to sign up for a minor task than to assume major responsibility.
- Appoint co-chairs rather than a single chairperson. It’s more fun and less onerous to share a job with someone else. Remember: focus on fun and friendship.
- Listen to volunteers and be receptive to different ideas.
- Support, praise and thank volunteers for their efforts.
- Pair experienced volunteers with new ones, older with younger.
- Vary the tasks or reapportion them every so often so no one does the same thing event after event or year after year.
- Provide clear communication regarding duties and deadlines to promote a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
- Always try to give volunteers assignments for which they have an aptitude or expertise.
- Contact the Office of Alumnae Relations for advice, support and suggestions.
Broadcast Emails & Newsletters
Smith can send broadcast emails on behalf of your club or group. Contact email@example.com. Emails must adhere to our established standards, and cannot contain offensive or libelous content. Email messages must refrain from editorializing or making judgments about Smith College programs or policies. The content of emails must be related to Smith College or alumnae business or events. External links in emails must direct to appropriate websites.
The OAR offers a free, easy-to-use template-based system for classes, clubs and groups. This system is built on the WordPress publishing platform. All pages share a common look and feel and the maintainer simply needs to add text and images to create or update any of the pages.
Consider using social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to increase your group’s visibility. The college does not offer support for class, club or group social media pages.
Encourage Updated Information
Encourage alumnae to keep their information current in the Alumnae Directory, as this is the resource for email and home addresses used by clubs, affinity groups and classes. Alumnae can log in to the Alumnae Directory to update their own contact information and stay connected with friends, classmates and other alumnae.
Post News and Events on OAR Calendar
Keep Your Website Fresh
Create a vibrant and robust website that shares news and information about your class, club, group and the college. Update your website regularly with member profiles, class/club/group news, news from Smith, event announcements or audio and video. Many classes use their websites effectively during the year leading up to Reunion, sharing plans for the weekend and requests for volunteers.
Whenever appropriate, collect your news in an email message and send it to classmates or club or group members. Draw news and information from Smith’s news outlets:
Treasurers should make clear to other class officers the system for reimbursing expenses. All invoices should be in the name of the organization. Invoices are payable only after they have been approved by the authorizing officer. The treasurer should also make clear to all officers the amount of discretionary money that is available for them to spend on a particular project.
The executive committee of officers generally determines the guidelines concerning the expenses of volunteers. The AASC offers the following suggestions:
- Develop a routine system for reimbursing volunteers.
- Include receipts for all reimbursement requests, accompanied by an explanation of how/when the expense was incurred.
- Travel expenses: airfare, train, bus, automobile mileage, cab fare, parking fees, tolls, shuttles, public transportation, car rental
- Accommodations: hotel, motel, bed and breakfast
- Meals: reimbursed with receipt. Establish guidelines based on a set meal allowance (e.g., $5 for breakfast or $25 per 24-hour period)
- Tips: baggage handling, room service, waitperson
- Organization business: telephone calls, postage, copying, faxing
- All previously authorized expenses: supplies, stationery, envelopes, etc.
- Parking tickets or speeding fines
- Personal services such as dry cleaning, manicures, shoe shining
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal gifts
- Child care while on organization business. (This is an expense that an organization may decide to develop a policy on for reimbursing volunteers.)
Smith clubs and groups are automatically covered by the college’s general liability policy; however, organizations may be asked by a vendor (such as a hotel) to provide evidence of insurance to comply with a specific contract. In this case, a certificate of insurance can be issued on the organization’s behalf. These requests may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please supply the following: organization name, contact person, description of event, date, time and location.
Smith College’s Liability Policy
Smith College’s general liability policy covers each Smith organization for amounts it may be legally obligated to pay as compensation to an injured party for bodily injury, personal injury, property damage or advertising injury.
There is no coverage for taxes, fines, civil or criminal penalties, cost of compliance for non-monetary awards or any other uninsurable matter.
An individual alumna is covered under the college’s general liability policy “while acting within the scope of her duties or while acting at the direction of or performing services for or on behalf of that Included Entity (Smith College).”
There is no territorial restriction in this policy and coverage is worldwide. There is also no exclusion of coverage for a claim brought because of an accident resulting from alcohol being served at an event. The AASC does, however, have clear guidelines around the service of alcohol at a club event.
Accidents & Claims
Any demand in writing is considered a claim by our underwriters (it does not have to be a suit). Any claim, regardless of cause of loss, should be immediately telephoned and sent to the Five College Risk Management Office (see address below) and to the AASC. A copy of the claim should also be sent to the treasurer or CFO of the college.
The college has extended its auto policies so that organizations have non-owned auto coverage. This provides coverage over members’ personal auto policies.
Additional Coverage or Claims
Smith clubs with specific questions regarding policy exclusions or claims, please contact:
Stacie R. Kroll
Director of Compliance & Risk Mgmt
Five Colleges, Incorporated
c/o Mount Holyoke College
50 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075-6404
Statement of Liquor Liability
The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 (PL 101-226) requires that all institutions of higher education adopt and implement a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use and distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by members of the Smith community as a condition of receiving funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program.
Although the general risk insurance coverage provided through the college’s policies to class, club and affinity group events includes host liquor liability coverage, please note that criminal malfeasance is not covered—serving liquors to minors (under age 21 in Massachusetts) is a criminal offense.
College Dining Services holds the liquor license for Smith College. Under Massachusetts State Liquor Laws, Dining Services is the only entity on campus that is licensed to sell alcohol. Alcohol may only be provided as part of an event involving Dining Services. Under no circumstances may a group planning a function provide their own liquor. Dining Services is required to provide servers that are trained in serving liquor and are familiar with Massachusetts Liquor Regulations.
Organizations serving alcohol at an event must be in compliance with all state regulations concerning the service and consumption of liquor. When working with caterers, ensure that they are properly licensed to serve alcohol.
General Statement on Serving Liquor
The liability in Massachusetts for a person or organization serving alcohol to someone who is intoxicated and has an accident, injuring themselves or others, is enormous. In Massachusetts, the place/institution/person who last served liquor to that individual is liable. On campus, Dining Services personnel refuse to serve alcohol to anyone they deem intoxicated. Please be aware of the liquor laws in your community when serving alcohol at an event. Be careful in all situations where alcohol is present.
Not every club has bylaws. Above all, bylaws should state that the club is organized to further the well-being of Smith College and operates exclusively for educational and charitable purposes.
In furthering the well-being of the college, the organization should keep in mind such goals as:
- Fostering a spirit of friendship among graduates and former students
- Extending the aims and achievements of the college
- Promoting and encouraging communications between the college, the AASC and the organization
- Delineating the primary responsibility of each officer position
- Outlining the process for holding regular meetings of the club and of the executive committee
Organization bylaws should also indicate the following:
- What constitutes a quorum
- Processes for election of officers
- Appointment and formation of a nominating committee
- Provisions for setting the dues fee
- Provisions for dissolution of the organization
- The process for amending the bylaws
Organization bylaws must have a paragraph that prohibits inurement. All club officers must understand that failure to comply with the following five items will jeopardize the tax-exempt status of an organization:
- No part of organization earnings may benefit any member, director, officer or other private individual.
- The organization officers are authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered.
- No activities of the organization shall consist of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.
- The organization cannot participate in or intervene in any campaign for public office.
- Nothing in the bylaws could be read as authorizing or permitting the organization to operate other than exclusively for charitable or educational purposes within the regulations of tax-exempt 501c(3) status.
Organizations are asked to file any amended bylaws with the AASC.
|Update your list of club volunteers on your website and send a copy to the AASC.|
|Schedule a meeting with the old and new board and follow the Transition Checklist.|
|Request a list of incoming students in your area. Host a student send-off party.|
|Plan programs for the year.|
|Send the AASC a calendar of events to be posted on the online events calendar.|
|Update your website with current information.|
|September & October|
|Plan news distribution to alums: broadcast email messages, club newsletters, class website and Facebook pages.|
|Send care packages to students.|
|Invite prospective and current students to a holiday party.|
|Donor services sends clubs an endowed fund report for scholarship fund mailing.|
|Invite current students to winter break events.|
|Connect with your Alumnae Admission Coordinator (AAC) about the Smith College Book Award Program.|
|Update your website.|
|February & March|
|Start planning succession.|
|Donor services sends clubs an endowed fund report for scholarship fund mailing.|
|Send care packages to students.|
|Elect officers. Submit the officers’ contact list to the OAR after election.|
|Plan a send-off party in collaboration with your AAC.|
|Reach out to new graduates moving to your area.|
|Submit annual and financial reports by July 1.|
|Determine if your club is required to fill out a tax return.|
- In planning events, consider the diversity of alums in regard to race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, geography, ability, religion, single/partnered, etc. If a club can plan only one or two events per year, aim for the widest possible diversity of attendees at those events. If a club has the luxury of holding many events each year, it’s inevitable that some of those events will be more narrowly focused.
- If possible, cover a variety of topics over each year. Suggestions include events based around art/cultural, theater/movies, food/wine, wellness/health, intellectual/literary, garden/outdoor, career/life-skills, financial planning, technology, entrepreneurship, college admissions planning, sports, local/city pride—walking tours, visiting landmarks and off-the-beaten path treasures.
- Whenever appropriate, include news of the college and an appeal to support it financially.
- If possible, always include enough time for socializing. Smithies love to meet and network with other Smithies.
- Your group may want to choose a theme for each year’s series of events. Keep up with campus happenings that might translate into a theme.
- Offer events at different price points, always making them as inclusive as possible.
- If your club covers a wide geographical area or a large city, plan events in different areas. You’ll be more likely to see different faces.
- Select the best date: take into account holidays, religious observances and conflicting local events.
- Collaborate with other women’s colleges groups, Seven Sister alum groups and Ivy League groups.
- Plan events around an alum’s exhibit, concert, lecture, workshop, performance or reading.
- Create a special event to benefit student scholarships if your club awards scholarship monies, or to build awareness and support of The Smith Fund.
- Smith in the Community: co-sponsor events with a local girls’ school, organization that supports women and girls, local college or university, or any community organization already planning to sponsor an event related to/focused on women and girls, education, or other issues of interest to alumnae.
- Network with other club leaders through the Facebook group “Smith College Club Leadership.” Join other clubs’ Facebook pages. Check the Office of Alumnae Relations Events Calendar to see what other clubs are doing.
- Keep up with two additional alumnae groups on Facebook:
Now that you are the leader of an alum club or group, we want to help you implement a smooth leadership transition. We’ve put together a checklist that both the incoming and outgoing leaders should review.
Checklist for Incoming Leaders
- Set up a meeting with the outgoing leader to go over questions and topics
- Collect club documents from the previous leader
- Schedule a meeting of new and old board/leadership committee members
- Review the available resources on the OAR Club Resources page
- Schedule a call with the assistant director for alumnae engagement
- Send a list of current club leaders so that the OAR has accurate records
- Introduce yourself to alums via a newsletter, broadcast email and/or Facebook post
Helpful Discussion Topics
The following questions and topics are a guide to help you think about your new role. They may also help guide your discussion with your predecessor.
Overview of the Local Club
- What is the club's mission?
- How do your describe your club?
- What's unique about alumnae in your area?
- When was the last time alums were asked for programming ideas or to complete a survey?
- Does the club have a flagship program, such as an annual event, a regular fundraiser or book club?
- What are some of the club’s fundraising programs?
- What are your goals as club leader?
- What are the aspects of club leadership that you like? What aspects are more challenging?
Leadership & Governance
- What is the structure of the board or leadership committee? What support is in place for you?
- What do you think would be the ideal leadership structure?
- What is the process for board or leadership development?
- Check club bylaws. Is an all-club meeting required annually?
- What is the most effective form of communication with club members?
- When do you send club news?
- What kind of information do you send in broadcast emails?
- Who keeps the club’s website up-to-date?
- Does the club have an email account and Facebook page? Who responds to emails and posts messages?
- What are the biggest hurdles (communication, volunteers, venues) you have?
- What ideas do you have to overcome challenges?
- What is your annual club timeline?
- What are some best practices for money management?
- Who can sign checks and access accounts?
- How do you handle revenue, dues and expenses?
- Does the club have a tax-exempt status?
- Is your club a 501©(3)?
- Does the club have any scholarship funds?
- What are the resources and support from the OAR?
- Where can you get a list of club leaders in your region?
- Are there any past club leaders who could be a resource for you?
- Are there any college trustees or AASC board members (current or past) in your area?
Important Club Documents
- Bylaws (if any) and amendments
- Determination letter, tax ID documents, EIN
- Copy of past annual and financial reports (should be on file at the OAR)
- Board/leadership meeting minutes
- Club files history, newsletters, etc.
- List of current board/leadership committee members with contact information and term dates
- Electronic files and folders, with passwords if applicable
Schedule Meeting of New & Old
- Send the agenda and assignments prior to the meeting
- Review leaders’ and volunteers’ responsibilities
- Review nominating/election process
- Strategize for the coming year and set goals
- Develop yearly budget
Smith College Book Awards recognize outstanding young women in your communities. Awards are not only an excellent way to congratulate students on their academic and personal achievements, but they also increase Smith’s name recognition in high schools and encourage young women to consider Smith as their college of choice.
Smith clubs sponsor the awards and select the high schools. Recipients are chosen by school personnel. The books are awarded to high school sophomores or juniors, usually at a school’s awards assembly in the spring. Recipients receive a book selected by the organization. Smith clubs need only raise money for the purchase of the books presented at the award ceremony.
Each spring the Office of Admission sends a packet of information about book awards to Alumnae Admission Coordinators (AACs). The packet includes:
- guidelines for contacting schools
- a sample letter to send to schools
- a list of books written by Smith College alums and faculty
- a book awards recipients sheet
Please consult the admission office when establishing new book awards to avoid duplicating an award already given by another group. If your club is interested in sponsoring a book award, please contact your NAAC, AAC or the Office of Admission. Affinity groups interested in this program should work with a local Smith club to coordinate efforts.
Organization treasurers maintain the treasury for the duration of their term. The Office of Alumnae Relations recommends maintaining records on a computer accounting/spreadsheet system. For treasurers who do not have access to a computer, financial records must be maintained in accordance with standard accounting practices. Organization funds are to be used solely to benefit the organization.
Tips for Maintaining a Club Treasury
Caroline Carbaugh ’66, longtime treasurer of the Washington, D.C., club, shares the following tips:
- Open or update a specified checking account; have several authorized signers, but one signature on a check is sufficient.
- Develop a budget to control income and expenses and identify sources of income and categories for expenses.
- Document all treasury transactions.
- Record sources of income and amounts.
- Always get copies of receipts and documentation.
- Balance checkbook monthly and produce a monthly or periodic report with starting and ending balances.
Notes on Event Management
- Track responses: name, address, number of reservations, amount of donations, amount paid, when received, when deposited.
- Make deposits and pay all bills.
- Provide information on tax-deductible amounts to attendees or donors.
- Produce a final report for events, including the number of reservations, income, expenses, profits or losses.
Special Assistance for Club Treasurers
Finance professional Katie Naughton ’70 has served as treasurer for both the Smith College Club of New York City and the Smith College Club of Hampshire County. She is available for consultation on financial and tax issues. (Please note that up to five hours of consultation are covered by the college; additional time must be paid by the club.)
The treasurer should open a bank account in the name of the organization (not a personal account) as the principal signature authority with a second officer, usually the president, also having authority. To open a bank account, the treasurer will need its organization bylaws and the following:
- Tax number (Employer Identification number (EIN) or Tax Payer Identification Number (TIN)). Go to www.irs.gov and click on the link to apply for an EIN online.
- The organization’s 501c(3) or 501c(7) tax-exempt number, if applicable.
Setting & Collecting Dues
The treasurer solicits member dues on a regular schedule. It is the general practice to solicit dues in a newsletter, although an organization may also send a separate mailing to alums just for this purpose. The range of dues is $20 to $75 annually. The treasurer maintains records of dues received.
The AASC suggests the following basic guidelines:
- Consider the size of your organization, the financial health of your treasury, and regular and projected expenditures when setting dues.
- Include a personal note with clear instructions and details about the use of dues. Provide an addressed return envelope.
- Offer discounts for members at events or for alums who pay dues prior to the beginning of the fiscal year.
- Recognize alums who have paid dues in your newsletter.
- Provide a complimentary copy of your club directory.