Thinking of starting a new group, or looking for advice in running one? All the information you need is here, and we're here to help.
Kennedy-Western Alumni Groups come in all shapes and sizes, from regional social gatherings to high-tech business networking
The strong network of Kennedy-Western University Groups caters to everyone who attended Kennedy-Western University. Many of these Groups hold regular events, meetings and activities, encouraging alumni to network, socialise and become supporters of the University.
There is no one size fits all approach to running an Alumni Group, however, to help ensure that volunteer-led Alumni Groups continue to offer valuable support to the Kennedy-Western University Alumni Association, and that the Development and Alumni Relations team provides the best possible services to Alumni Groups around the world
Starting a Alumni Group
It is important not to overlook procedural issues when running your Group. We have provided this key information to help you take practical steps with Group administration
Maintaining a database
Even the smallest of Groups will need to keep a record of members and it is much easier to do this electronically.
In all cases it is important to maintain control over who has access to the data and to ensure that data transfers are secure. Please do not share personal data with third parties without following the correct procedures (e.g. entering into a data processing agreement). Finally, make sure you have a secure way of storing data, i.e. use a password on your computer or a secure filing cabinet. If you are in the USA you must also be aware of the principles of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. There is a very good succinct guide available from the United States Department of Justice website. This need only be a few paragraphs, but will be helpful in focusing the Group and sustaining it if your membership changes later. Although Groups are designed for alumni, it is entirely up to your Group if you wish to involve a small number of enthusiastic non-alumni and current students in your Group.
Each Group is entirely self-financing and do not pay any fee to the Kennedy-Western University Alumni Association.
It is up to each Group to choose how they finance their activities: some Groups charge an annual membership fee or a one-off joining fee to members; alternatively some Groups simply add a small amount to the cost of every event ticket price. In all cases we recommend that you work on a break-even basis with a small reserve fund in case of emergencies. It is advisable to keep basic written records of income and expenses together with a balance sheet. If you can, we suggest that you recruit a volunteer with previous experience of handling basic accounts and ask them to present them to the Group on an annual basis.
Annual General Meeting
We recommend that once a year your Group holds an Annual General Meeting to update all members on the Group’s activities and its plans for the upcoming year. This needn’t be an onerous task and most Groups combine it with a social event, but celebrating the Group’s achievements and agreeing its future are a key part of ensuring that a Group continues to thrive.
We always enjoy hearing from Groups and if you are willing to send your Annual Report to Development and Alumni Relationship office. We would be very happy to receive them. We will not share them directly with other Groups, but it is helpful to be able to advise other Groups about the challenges and achievements of others.
The law does not expect you to eliminate all risks but to manage them, and protect people 'as far as reasonably practicable'. In practical terms this means completing a risk assessment. The process should be seen as an enabling process and ideally should be carried out by people who have been trained, but if this is not possible the following guidance should be referred to as required:
Through successful planning and rotating committee members, we hope that Groups will continue to exist for many years, but occasionally Groups feel they are unable to continue. If you are in this situation please make sure you contact us so that we can investigate ways that we may be able to help.
Set out below are guidelines which can be used as reference for a constitution for an existing or new Group.
ESSENTIAL - These are essential matters in that (a) if they are omitted there could be significant problems/disputes, or (b) they clarify an issue which is not clearly defined by law and thus remove potential uncertainties.
RECOMMENDED - These are matters of good practice.
There is considerable flexibility as to the issues which should or could be covered in a constitution, but what follows is regarded as appropriate for a Volunteer Alumni Group.
ESSENTIAL - The official Group name should be clearly stated and relate to its objects.
Object/purposes of the new Group
ESSENTIAL - The Group’s objects clause should be stated in a suitably wide form to cover all the objectives it may wish to achieve.
ESSENTIAL - In this section there should be a clear definition of those to whom the membership of the Group is open. For example, membership of the Kennedy-Western University Alumni Association of New York is open to 'any resident in the or near New York who was or is a member of the Kennedy-Western University, or has associations with its welfare'. There should be flexibility to decide on the breadth of criteria for membership. It should be a local decision as to whether, for example, to allow spouses or non-Kennedy-Western University graduates to become members or if individuals need to be nominated by an existing member or members or require committee approval to gain membership.
ESSENTIAL - Local Groups have autonomy over subscriptions. The Group could include a clause in its constitution relating to subscriptions in terms of who has the power to decide the amount, due date for payment and joining fee. It should be noted that, in contract law, there is no term implied in the contract of membership that if a member fails to pay his subscription by the specified date his membership will lapse. To clarify the point therefore, the constitution should have an express rule that if a subscription is not received by a specified period after it has become due, then that member’s membership will automatically lapse. Groups are not required to have a subscription for their members at all and so this clause is only essential if a subscription is to be charged (or if the Group believes it may want to charge subscriptions in the future).
Resignation of members
ESSENTIAL - There needs to be a clause setting out a procedure for resignation of members. The requirements for resignation (for example formal written notice to the Chairman) may vary between Groups but the process should be clearly set out in each constitution.
ESSENTIAL - It is necessary to include provision as to how the individuals who are going to have principal responsibility for running the Group are appointed, elected or selected, whether by nomination or voting, and, if the latter, who is eligible to vote. This will include the Executive Committee and any Officers of the Group such as Chairman, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and/or Secretary. The constitution should specify how these positions are appointed, how long the positions are to be held and how often the Executive Committee should meet.
ESSENTIAL - There should be a clear definition of who is ultimately responsible for the management of Group’s affairs. This will usually be the Executive Committee. For the avoidance of doubt the members of and the powers of the Executive Committee should be defined. This could include the power to appoint new officers to its own number, to appoint sub-Committees, to invest the Group’s funds, to sign cheques and a power for the Executive Committee or its Chairman to call meetings. It should be stated how often the Executive Committee should meet.
RECOMMENDED - It is recommended that the Executive Committee should be required to produce an annual report, income and expenditure account and balance sheet at the end of each financial year. This requirement, however, will depend on the size of the Group and it may not be appropriate for small Groups to have to go to this time and expense.
RECOMMENDED - It is best practice for the Group’s constitution to make provision either for a regular Annual General Meeting (AGM) or power for the Executive. Committee to call for an AGM. If the date of the meeting is fixed in the constitution there is an advantage that no formal notice is required. Provision for having such a meeting is strongly recommended as it gives the members an opportunity to meet formally, review the performance of the Group, review its financial position as well as to discuss the way forward on all issues, such as financial and social, for the coming year. Matters for inclusion at any AGM agenda may be stated in the constitution. This could include consideration of the year’s accounts and reports of sub-Committees. This works as a useful checklist for the AGM agenda. Provision for the calling of Extraordinary General Meetings (EGM) should also be included. It is usual to allow that an EGM may only be called by the Committee or by a minimum number of Members. The constitution should include the length of notice a member will receive in respect of any type of meeting.
ESSENTIAL - There should also be definition (in terms of a number) for quorum at meetings of the Executive Committee and general meetings. This will naturally vary considerably for each Group depending on the size of its membership.
RECOMMENDED - More detailed information could be included setting out, for example, qualification to attend meetings, casting vote of the Chairman and type of majority required to carry a motion.
RECOMMENDED - The constitution should include a reference as to how Notices may be sent. Best practice would be to draft this as widely as possible so as to include post and electronic means so as to give as much flexibility as possible. Members should be placed under a duty to inform the Secretary of their current contact details.
Amendment of rules
ESSENTIAL - It is important that the rules contain an express provision whereby the members are empowered to alter the Group’s rules by way of amendment, addition or revocation. There should also be a procedure laid out within the rules for the Group Committee to initiate alterations to the rules. A Group changes and evolves over time and new generations of members may not want to be inhibited by pre-existing rules which may become defunct or superfluous. Sometimes a higher percentage vote is required – for instance 2/3 or 3/4 of members present and voting.
ESSENTIAL - There must be provision as to how a resolution to dissolve the Group is passed. This will assist in avoiding a potentially acrimonious end to the Group’s life and leave no doubt as to how the future of the Group’s assets will be determined.
Disputes and expulsion of members
ESSENTIAL - It is important that the constitution includes provision for internal dispute resolution, particularly disputes between members or between a member and the Group. There should be an internal complaints procedure or at least a clear statement that the Committee is empowered to make a binding decision on all such disputes. It is important for a Group to include a clause in its constitution relating to the suspension or expulsion of members. The rules should expressly set out an expulsion procedure because, if they are silent on expulsion of members, then this power will not be implied.
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