Smith clubs, affinity groups and special interest groups around the world host a variety of events—receptions, book clubs, community service projects, museum visits—that provide opportunities to connect with the college, alums, faculty and students. In addition, the Committee on Regional Participation (CORP) is a dedicated committee of volunteers who engage with alums and solicit support of the college on a regional basis. Whether you’re looking for a long-term commitment, to help plan a get-together in your area or to share your story with local students, here’s how to get involved. We are deeply grateful for your commitment of time, effort and energy.
Planning Events & Programs
Planning An Event
Clubs and groups engage in events that enhance the alum connection with the college and each other. Programs may vary in an effort to provide meaningful experiences for folks with different interests. Examples include:
- organizing a book club
- sending care packages to students
- engaging in community service
- creating theme-based sub-groups for investing, cooking, knitting and crafts, walking/hiking
- social events such as bowling, after work meet-ups, game night (including Smithopoly!) and museum and sports outings
- organizing a panel of alums with similar fields of interest or expertise, such as folks in science, law, education, the arts, or health and wellness
- celebrating Smith traditions such as Mountain Day, Julia Child Day, Christmas Vespers, Cromwell Day and Rally Day
Publicizing Your Event
Does your club or group have an event you want to publicize? Contact the Office of Alumnae Relations and Development at email@example.com for support.
For tips to increase event attendance and membership, see Communications.
Insurance coverage for all club events is provided under the college’s liability policy. See Volunteer Resources for more information.
For more ideas, see Additional Resources for Clubs & Groups. We encourage you to connect with fellow club leaders for advice and brainstorming on ideas and best practices. The Office of Alumnae Relations and Development staff can offer you support in planning a program.
Book clubs are a wonderful way to reinvigorate your club’s membership and keep alums regularly engaged. Smith book clubs have sprung up globally. See Communications for ideas on boosting attendance and celebrating diversity.
Smith College values its alums and provides many tools to help them connect to one another and to the college, whether in person or virtually, as individuals, or as volunteer-led affinity groups and clubs. The college does not govern alum groups nor prescribe content for groups’ events. The selection of a book or other program content by an alum group or club does not imply an endorsement by Smith College or the Alumnae Association of Smith College.
Starting a Book Club
Smith club presidents often find that book clubs attract alums who don’t traditionally affiliate with their Smith clubs but are interested in continuing their education and connection to the college. Book clubs require a few basic ingredients.
A Good Book
It’s best to let the point person choose the group’s first book and have participants come to the first meeting with their suggestions. Paperbacks are a good first choice for affordability and portability. Independent booksellers sometimes offer book club discounts.
A Little Time
It is standard practice to have a month to read a selection. Meetings should go for about an hour and a half, with the first hour devoted to discussion and the last half-hour for socializing.
A Regular Schedule and a Bit of Publicity
After the book list has been created, mail it to participants and include it in the club’s newsletter and web page announcements. Rotate locations and discussion leaders.
It’s good to have a few prepared questions to prompt discussion. Book publishers often offer discussion guides.
Three Willing Volunteers
The Point Person: This volunteer will field calls from interested members and maintain the book club membership list, book list and location schedule.
Book Discussion Leader: This volunteer position will rotate through the book club. This person will prepare questions and a short biography of the author.
Hostess: This position rotates and should not be either the point person or the discussion leader.
The Perfect Spot
Consider holding your event at a local library at the same time as their “Young Reader’s Circle” or other “Read Aloud” programs. This will allow mothers of small children to attend without arranging for child care. As a bonus, this will also reinforce the love of reading in the next generation.
For ideas, browse current and past selections for entering students, read a faculty book and check out alumnae books featured in WordSmith and the Smith Alumnae Quarterly. The Gate also regularly feature the latest books from faculty and alumnae. Submit your group’s reading list suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay connected to current students from your area by sending end-of-semester care packages to them. Students often send warm expressions of appreciation for receiving a box of homemade baked goods, gift certificates for local businesses, cards and other goodies, like warm socks for the winter. Here are some helpful guidelines to follow if your club wants to send care packages.
Care packages/gifts should arrive at least seven days before the last day of classes to ensure ample time for delivery and pick-up by students. See the Academic Calendar. Please check with your post office to allow enough time for delivery and be sure to use packaging that prevents damage during shipping.
- Label perishable items and consider necessary shipment time.
- Put the student name and box number on each package.
- Include the sender’s name, club name and email/mailing address. (Many students send thank-you notes.)
- Email Mail Services to notify them of your shipment. In the subject line put “Smith Club Mailing.” Please do not send notifications to students. Mail Services will send notifications to students via email. All gift bags must be sealed, and it’s best to send them in uniform packaging. Please include:
- Name of club
- Number of pieces being sent
- List of recipients and box numbers
Mail to: Smith College, Mail Services, 100 Elm Street, Northampton, MA 01063
If you are overseas, consider sending gift cards or certificates to local shops or ordering care packages from a local Northampton business to avoid items becoming spoiled or packages getting delayed. It will also save on shipping costs.
Help make a difference in your community by volunteering. Community service projects can be fun and rewarding ways to connect with alumnae who might enjoy giving back more than attending other club events. They also enhance Smith’s reputation in local communities. Alumnae can be asked to suggest an organization that might be willing to organize a club’s volunteer time.
Choosing a Project
- Short-term or one-time projects are more likely than long-term commitments to attract volunteers.
- A program whose mission is to support women and girls or college access might be especially attractive.
- Projects that include partners and kids might appeal to alumnae with families (inquire about a minimum age for children).
- Community service groups or book groups might complement a project with a book that focuses on service, such as Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, or The American Way to Change: How National Service & Volunteers are Transforming America, by Shirley Sagawa ’83.
Some clubs volunteer one or more times a year at food banks, where they sort or pack canned or fresh food for soup kitchens, shelters, families, schools or day-care centers. A day’s work can begin with a brunch or end with drinks to provide social time. Food donations can be requested at other club events.
Dress for Success
Dress for Success has affiliates around the country to which club members can donate clothing for use by disadvantaged female job-seekers.
Habitat for Humanity
Projects may include home building, trail clearing, knitting for homeless women or delivering cards made by school children to hospital patients.
Title I Schools
Since 1989, the Washington, D.C., club has had relationships with a Title I elementary school (majority low-income students) where 20 or more volunteers tutor individuals or read aloud to a class, helping to grow grade-level readers by the end of third grade. Alumnae are invited to bring school supplies to the club’s annual tea.
On the Rise
The Cambridge, MA, club has an ongoing relationship with On the Rise, a program for homeless women. They have collected socks and other necessities for clients; they invite donations at any club event. They also gathered 450 books in one month to create a library for this women’s shelter.
Look for opportunities to collaborate with or co-sponsor an event with a girls’ school, with a group that benefits women or girls, or with an organization related to the subject area of a faculty speaker. These events also offer the opportunity to share admission materials with high school girls.
Sponsor Events & Lectures
An innovative example of an event comes from the Maine club, which co-sponsored a faculty lecture by Tom Litwin, the former director of the Clark Science Center at Smith, with Coastal Studies for Girls, a semester school for sophomores from around the country with an interest in marine science and leadership. His presentation, held at a public expeditionary learning high school in Portland where an alumna teaches science, was on climate change in the Bering Sea.
The Faculty Speaker program is a long-standing tradition utilized by many clubs to engage with Smithies locally. These presentations bring Smithies together and provide the opportunity for alums to participate in lifelong learning. The Office of Alumnae Relations and Development partners with regional Smith clubs to provide financial and marketing support so alums can engage with faculty.
Contact email@example.com with any questions.
Fundraising for Smith College was historically one of the primary purposes of Smith clubs and has been an important and appreciated source of financial support for the college. Alums have always been passionate about supporting Smith scholarships, and alum groups and clubs have been doing innovative, effective fundraisers for the cause. There are a variety of ways in which you can help young women enjoy the benefits of a Smith education.
To add your club fundraiser idea to this page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Club Officer Roles
Smith clubs are geographically based alum communities that serve to connect Smithies to one another and to the college. There are more than 100 Smith clubs worldwide, varying in size and scope depending on their region. Each club is led by an executive board of officers. These roles can vary by club but often include a president, vice president, program chair, treasurer and secretary. We invite you to join this important part of the Smith community! Whether you are interested in an officer role or helping out with programs from time to time, there are many different ways to be involved. Connect with your local club board to learn more about how you can deepen your Smith connections and be an ambassador for the college right where you live.
Committee on Regional Participation (CORP) Volunteer Roles
CORP volunteers connect with fellow alums and solicit support of the college on a regional basis.
Term: 3 years
Contact: Emily Fitzgerald, Associate Director for Strategic Fundraising Initiatives; ELFitzgerald@smith.edu or 413-585-2698
- Connect with, solicit and thank assigned prospects
- Act as ambassadors by sharing information about priorities and initiatives at Smith
- Promote the importance of participation
- Serve as role models through your own philanthropic commitment to Smith, including an annual gift to The Smith Fund
Tools and Resources for Clubs & Groups
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.