Class Events

CLASS EVENTS – POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND BEST PRACTICES

First step – contact the AYA - we are here to help!  In many cases we can:

  • Suggest previously successful locations
  • Put you in touch with past volunteers who have held an event in the same location
  • Provide attendance and cost data regarding previous events.
  • Provide information regarding past use of local hotels, restaurants, and event coordinators
  • Help establish a timeline for promoting your event
  • Provide schedules from previous events
  • Help provide “Yale” content i.e. faculty or administration speaker

The AYA can also provide the following administrative services:

  • Work with volunteers to create and send save the date and registration mailings to all classmates and friends of the class. The AYA’s ability to send follow-up mailings to individual attendees can be limited and depends upon the department’s current workload.
  • Please check with the AYA in advance to plan follow-up mailings.
  • Track participant registrations and payments (with some exceptions). If the AYA is tracking the event, you will receive biweekly updates via email.
  • Be an additional point of customer service.
  • Send deposits and final payments to vendors (see section on financial guidelines).
  • Reimburse volunteers for documented out-of-pocket expenses (see section on financial guidelines).
  • Provide final accounting of income and expenses.

For events held in New Haven, AYA staff can also assist with room and facility reservations, A/V rentals and faculty speaker requests, as well as coordinating any on-campus catering needs.

Choosing a location

  • When choosing a location, keep in mind the following:
  • What makes this location special/unique.
  • What will draw your classmates there?
  • Will your classmates have difficulty getting there?
  • Is the location suitable for your size group?
  • Regarding the date, are there other large events taking place at the same time that might be competing for limited facilities or are you competing with religious or other holidays?

Responsibilities of Local Organizer(s) and Class Officers

A strong local organizer can make the difference between a good event and a truly memorable one. Whether the class chooses to form a committee, tap an individual, hire a local event planner, or do a combination of the above, the duties are the same:

  • Develop a strong program. Determine all anticipated expenses (including fees for catering, bar and room rental, buses, tour guides, gratuities, decorations, souvenirs, and entry fees for specific events) and draft a budget. [Note: class events should be priced to break even (with the exception of mailings, which are traditionally paid out of the class treasury) unless previous arrangements have been made with both class officers.]
  • Set fees
  • Create save the date and/or registration mailings. AYA can provide samples and help with formatting and distribution.
  • Make all logistical arrangements

Class Officers

In addition to guiding the decision-making process of whether, where and when to hold an event and who is going to organize it, class officers have oversight responsibility for the entire event. While this does not mean they need to be involved in detailed planning of the event, they do have overall responsibility for the following:

  • Keeping organizers on track in terms of promotions and schedules
  • Making sure financial guidelines are adhered to including approval of the budget, discussion of possible deficits and class treasury subsidies, and submission of proper receipts for all payments including reimbursements (see financial compliance section)
  • Submission of proof of insurance for vendors providing services (see section on insurance and risk management)

Hiring an Event Planner

Many classes choose to hire a local event planner to help with the logistical arrangements and execution of a multi-day event. This has proven to be a successful partnership in many cases. As you go through the selection process be sure you are clear on the total cost of services and what services are being provided and ask for references prior to entering into any agreements. All logistical aspects should be discussed and clarified, including:

  • who is paying the individual vendors
  • who is tracking registration and handling customer service
  • will confirmations be sent to individuals (because of staffing constraints AYA is unable to provide this service)
  • what materials will be sent to participants in advance and what will be available upon arrival

 

FINANCIAL POLICIES & PROCEDURES

Compliance with Federal and University guidelines for payments and reimbursements

Your Class has been granted tax exempt status by the Federal Government and complete record keeping is required by law. In addition, your class treasury is held at the University and subject to University and AYA financial regulations. To comply with the requirements of both these entities the following documentation must be provide for all expenses including cash payments:

To pay a vendor:

  1. Payment by University credit card – requires vendors to fax credit card receipt to AYA
  2. Payment by check  (lead time two weeks from when AYA receives all information)

A written invoice or contractual agreement for actual charges must be provided and include the full company or individual’s name, address, telephone number and federal tax id number or, in the case of an individual, social security number.

To reimburse a volunteer:

Receipts for all expenses need to be provided. This includes all payments regardless of method, including cash. For cash gratuities exceeding $75, we can provide a gratuity payment form which must be completely filled out by the person receiving the gratuity. For payments made by personal check, you need to include a copy of the check with the receipt.

Acceptable forms of receipts include:

  • Store receipts
  • Copies of cancelled checks
  • Copies of bank statements only if vendor name is listed
  • Credit card statement
  • Credit card receipts
  • Web receipts

The following are not considered acceptable receipts:

  • Invoices that indicate an amount due
  • Handwritten receipts on blank paper
  • Bank statements that do not show vendor’s name
  • Estimated bills

If you have any questions as to whether or not a form of documentation is acceptable, please contact the AYA to discuss.

Contracts and agreements

All contracts should be obtained in writing and read carefully so that the class’ financial obligations and liabilities are fully understood. In addition, all contracts should be forwarded to the AYA prior to being finalized for review and to be included as part of the class’ financial records.

There are certain things that you should look for when negotiating contracts with vendors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancellation deadlines
  • Food and beverage guarantees (minimums, final meal count deadlines)
  • Guest count guarantees
  • Attrition clauses (hotel agreements only)
  • Room night guarantees (hotel agreements only)
  • Cancellation of event penalties
  • Total cost of services being provided (add any service charge, built in gratuity etc.)

Hotels

When negotiating for a block of hotel rooms, the ideal arrangement is what is referred to as a “wedding” or “conference” style booking. This means the hotel agrees to hold a specific number of rooms at an agreed upon rate until a specific date. Whatever rooms have not been booked by that date are automatically released.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
THIS TYPE OF ARRANGEMENT SHOULD NOT INCLUDE ANY ATTRITION PENALTIES OR ROOM NIGHT GUARANTEES THAT THE CLASS IS LIABLE FOR, NOR SHOULD IT BE TIED TO A SUBSTANTIAL FOOD AND BEVERAGE MINIMUM. IF THE HOTEL INSISTS ON PENALTIES OR FOOD AND BEVERAGE GUARANTEES, USE A DIFFERENT HOTEL. ATTRITION PENALTIES CAN ADD UP QUICKLY AND COST THE CLASS TREASURY A GREAT DEAL.

Insurance Coverage and Risk Management

Class officers and appointed volunteers have limited coverage under Yale’s insurance. In order to comply with the insurance carrier’s requirements, all parties providing services must submit proof of insurance to Yale University Department of Risk Management. Copies of insurance can be faxed to the attention of Marjorie Lemmon at 203-432-7520. Risk Management is happy to provide details of coverage upon request.

Budgeting and Fee structure

Before setting a cost for an event, a realistic budget needs to be developed based on estimated costs and attendance. Be sure to include ALL expenses: transportation, tips, taxes, rental fees, printing costs, signs, guides, tour operators etc. If the Class chooses to offer payment by credit card, please be aware that credit card companies charge a 3% fee which will be deducted by AYA from income received. These charges should be considered when budgeting for an event. We also suggest you include a contingency amount if approximately 10-15% for unanticipated expenses. The AYA is happy to work with you on developing a budget.

Once a budget is set, you can determine the fee. When estimating attendance for the purpose of setting fees, use a lower estimate. For example, if the save the date responses indicate 90 people are interested, you are better off setting the price based on final attendance of 75 rather than 100. This will cover a shortfall if attendance is less than expected. If the Class officers have decided to underwrite a portion of the event on a per person basis, remember that the higher the attendance, the higher the contribution from the Class treasury will be.

PROMOTIONS

Promotion of your event truly depends on the type of event. For a simple cocktail reception 4-5 weeks may be sufficient, for a class dinner two or three months and for a mini reunion the promotions should begin 9 months to a year in advance in order to maximize attendance. One of the most commons reasons for lower than expected attendance at any event is late notice to classmates. Keep in mind that the most popular times of the year to hold events (March, April, May, September, October) are also the most popular times for personal travel and family activities such as weddings and graduations, so you need to give your classmates reasonable  advance notice.

Save the Date

Classes typically send an initial “save the date” notice, especially for multi-day events, so people can mark their calendars. This communication can often include a preliminary schedule or description of planned events and a response form where classmates can indicate the likelihood of their being able to attend. This is extremely useful in obtaining a ballpark estimate for planning purposes. Please note that final attendance can vary significantly from save the date responses.

Registration mailing

The goal of the registration communication is to provide as much specific information as possible to your classmates in a clear, concise manner. Sending a complete registration communication will dramatically reduce the number of phone calls you receive and, in many cases, eliminate the need for follow up mailings.

The registration mailing should include the following information:

  • A complete and detailed schedule of events and meals
  • All deadline and cancellation information and policies
  • Any concerns about events selling out and warnings about first-come, first-served registration
  • Restrictions on number of guests per classmate
  • Methods available to register (US mail, fax etc.)
  • Any information specific to the location – dress codes, etc.
  • Payment information including all attendance fees and any additional costs not included in the basic price
  • Method of payment section – checks only or checks & credit cards.
  • Complete contact information to be filled in by classmates – including email address. This is an effective way to inform classmates of any last minute changes or additions to the schedule.
  • Contact information, both yours and the AYA’s, in case of questions
  • A pre-addressed return envelope

 

Email

More and more classes are choosing to use email both to promote their event and to communicate with participants. If you plan to promote your event to your entire class via email, the current broadcast email schedule requires 7 days advance receipt of email message. There are a number of technical steps that need to be taken to prepare an email in addition to data being downloaded from the alumni database. The steps make it more likely that the email will be delivered to your classmates inbox and not diverted by filters.

Follow up emails to participants are easier to facilitate and only need a couple of days advance receipt.

PROGRAMMING

While spending time with each other is the main reason your classmates will sign up for an event, don’t underestimate the importance of a strong program for events other than a cocktail gathering.

The responses from the save-the-date mailing will help guide your venue choices and aid in developing your program. While a specific tour or meal venue may work well for a group of 50, it may be unrealistic or even impossible for a group of 100. Keep venue sizes in mind when choosing them. Experience has shown that if the event site is limited it is better to change it than to limit the group. There is nothing worse than having to turn classmates away because of a limited venue size.

It is no secret that Yale alumni are among the most interesting, talented and well-connected people in the world. Take advantage of this! Work with your classmates (local and otherwise) to offer opportunities not available to the average person. This can be a key draw for your event and take it from being just a good experience to a truly memorable one. Classmate talent and connections have taken many shapes and a complete list is simply impossible to produce, but here are some examples:

  • A dinner at the Getty Museum hosted by museum director/classmate
  • A day at a classmate’s working ranch in Santa Fe
  • Dinner at a South Carolina plantation owned by a Yale alumnus
  • Dinner and a NYC Broadway show produced by a Yale classmate
  • Panel of classmate Ambassadors
  • Behind the scenes tour of NPR

In summary, many classes and classmates have truly benefited from well-planned class events, but they don’t just happen. They are the end result of a strong partnership between the AYA, the class officers and the event organizers!

 

 

 

 

 

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