Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Reflection from the 2017-2019 Harriet Macht Alumnae Panhellenic Winner

  In the 2017-2019 biennium, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic won the Harriet Macht Outstanding Alumnae Panhellenic Award. We asked them to reflect on their association's purpose, programming and events that led them to this prestigious honor.
The Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic accepting the
 Harriet Macht Award at the Annual Educational Conference in 2016. 

   1. As an award-winning Alumnae Panhellenic, do you have suggestions for keeping records for your Alumnae Panhellenic?

It is important to always maintain historical records for the alumnae Panhellenic. During conversations and planning, questions always arise as to how various projects were planned and executed, whether it be a fundraising event programming, a scholarship program or a recruitment information event. Periodically reviving some previous activities with a fresh approach is helpful. The ability to have access to the previous activity and the details is important and to accomplish that, files need to maintained using several methods so that things are not “lost”.

One way to maintain the files is to have a good transition meeting which can be either individuals getting together and sharing the knowledge and files of the previous year. They can do this based on their own schedules and then the incoming officer/chairman can share information with their committee and the officers. An alternative is to hold a transition meeting of the outgoing board and the incoming board, providing time for the individuals to chat and share and then the outgoing board may leave, allowing the new board to continue the meeting, set goals and share the information received through conversation and files received.

Files can be shared in several ways – via email, notebooks, flash drives and through archives (such as scrapbooks). The sharing of information via email that includes emails sent during the year, documents created and saved. There are cons to this method – computer crashes, people moving and there is no further and the information is lost. The pros include the portability of the files and information.

The sharing of notebooks is also a mixed bag of successes and failures. It is not helpful if an officer/committee chairman does not keep good records, update a notebook with information, having notebooks that are cumbersome and information is extremely outdated. The good is that there is information in one place to be passed along. Unfortunately, at times the notebooks don’t go to the next person due to inability to meet and the information becomes lost. We have found that the most important files are those of the Vice President of Finance and hard copies of documents, as well as
soft copies, are best shared in several ways – notebook, flash drive, and uploaded to a site – especially EIN information and IRS filings!

Flash drives are easily misplaced and not labeled. The result of this is that they are not passed along to those who will need the information and it is not shared with others who might need some of the information contained on the drive.

A couple of successful ways to keep records is to have a Google drive with folders containing detailed information pertaining to specific positions that officers/committee chairman can access via a password.  A second method of keeping records is to have an historian whose responsibility is to provide a summary of the year and including rosters, awards, governing documents, minutes plus details of each month’s activities. This, too, can be kept on a drive for easy access. Documents can also be uploaded to the alumnae Panhellenic database account that the National Panhellenic Conference hosts through FSCentral.

Record keeping and file exchanges are important to the success of an alumnae Panhellenic and using several methods has been very helpful to us as we have immediate access to information and can continue to move the alumnae Panhellenic forward with planning each year. We have the ability to continue to grow our organization in many ways and build on the past.

   2.Since being selected as the award winner, how have you sustained Panhellenic excellence through this new biennium (2019-21)?

One of the goals for the new biennium for our alumnae Panhellenic is to continue the forward and upward momentum we have experienced throughout our history. It is important to evaluate the programming, fundraising efforts, scholarship program, and our communication to determine how we can improve on what we have been doing.

This year we have established the “Year of Changes” as our theme. Looking at the changes within the National Panhellenic Conference we believe that we, too, should look at how we can push ourselves to make changes. We are not happy to continue to do things in the same way as in the past and the last several years are great examples. New social events, new program ideas to provide information to our members about topics relevant to today’s Panhellenic women were developed. These included a presentation on Generation Z giving information on what to expect for the newest employees in the workforce and volunteer organizations; NPC 101 providing what is the National Panhellenic Conference, how the changes will affect operations and focus plus how an alumnae Panhellenic fits into NPC; programs for our members to learn about topics that are non-Panhellenic in nature; and programs to help our members enhance their personal lives.

Sustaining excellence in our organization through community service/philanthropy has been paramount. We do, as alumnae women support each other with fundraising and volunteer opportunities for individual alumnae chapters. In addition, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic Association has established three specific organizations that we support annually – Ellie’s Hats, Women Giving Back, and Circle of Sisterhood. Two are local to our area and one is a national endeavor.  We, as a Panhellenic, continue to find ways to grow our support of these organizations using innovative giving opportunities.

Fundraising for our scholarship program is constantly being improved whether it be using new technologies to help collect funds, finding new and fresh ideas for our long-standing fundraising event which continues to increase interest and interaction between Panhellenic women, their friends and family, and support our scholarship program.

The ability to provide scholarships to outstanding Panhellenic women is one of the cornerstones of our alumnae Panhellenic.  This year, we have totally changed our application, our process, and emphasized the message to the campuses with NPC chapters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We were not satisfied with the status quo as to the number of applicants nor with the method for submission of applications. We are starting to see early success that we attribute to the new processes we have embraced and are excited to see the final result.

Our communication both internal and external is constantly improving through social media usage, email, personal outreach, and publicity regarding our alumnae Panhellenic awards to the community and stakeholders is one of our goals. Our messaging is being refreshed and we look forward to continuing to find new ways to share the positives of sororities with those outside of our alumnae Panhellenic.

The Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic Association members are excited to plan and discuss how we can continue to stay the course of excellence as we continue to focus on the “Year of Changes!”

3. Do you have any words of encouragement or suggestions for Alumnae Panhellenics across the country who are striving towards excellence?

As Panhellenic women, we strive to continue to grow and improve how we operate and how we can inspire future members to stay involved and engaged in Panhellenic life.  It is important to not be satisfied with the status quo, but to try to attain higher goals for your organization. This takes work, cooperation, communication, and dedication to the ideals of the National Panhellenic Conference and Alumnae Panhellenics. 

In looking through our historical files as we are in the process of looking at previous decades’ worth of scrapbooks, finding and keeping pertinent historical information, scanning documents, awards, and pictures to organize and house in a specific, safe “place,” we have found a wealth of information. Of particular note, we found previous award certificates that showed how our alumnae Panhellenic has historically been recognized for our successes and with each year or biennium, we have continued to improve upon what we had done previously.  Our words of encouragement would be to keep on improving how you do things by discussing your goals and thinking of new ways to live the vision, mission, and values of the National Panhellenic Conference in all that you do.  It does not matter the size of your alumnae Panhellenic, where you are located in the country, whether your membership is alumnae chapter-based, individual members or a combination, but what does matter is the vision you have for your organization, providing value to your members to keep them engaged, and how you advocate for the sorority experience in all that you do! Panhellenic women are phenomenal and can do anything!