UWAA E-Mail Stratergy 2005 [Case Study]
December 10, 2013
UWAA-The Value and Reason for Affinity [Case Study]
December 10, 2013
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Key Measures

®   Financial Accountability (meet or exceed approved budget)

®   Volunteer Experience (ranking based on survey results that monitor volunteer satisfaction)

®   Individual Staff Performance Objectives (meet a prerequisite performance level in one’s area of focus)




1.   STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS (ISSUE MANAGEMENT)                            (John Buller)



The UWAA uses its robust strategic planning process and outstanding volunteer committee and leadership oversight groups to manage a highly directed, and passionate effort at accomplishing its mission statement.  Because of this process, staff and volunteer leadership have a clear and mutual understanding of what the UWAA vision is, what activities and resources it will take to achieve the vision, and clear benchmarks defining the progress.

  • The UWAA vision is well understood by all individuals.
  • The entire organization understands how decisions are made and are confident in the process.
  • Decisions engage a wide variety of individuals from a variety of perspectives ensuring that the decisions made are well thought through.
  • Staff consistently anticipates and identifies critical issues creating clear statements and appropriate data to bring light on the issues.


A.   The UWAA Strategic Plan

The UWAA Strategic Plan is a living, actively engaged blueprint for the vision and business activities of the staff of the UWAA.  The brand identity attributes, UWAA culture promise, mission, vision, and core values serve as the everyday filters that help volunteer leadership and staff decide on what actions should be explored and supported.  The operational visions are developed by staff members and processed through a variety of discussions by the UWAA committee structures and other engaged volunteer leadership.  The plan is referenced frequently and staff formally update annually prior to the spring budget process to ensure all UWAA activities are focused on executions that accomplish UWAA visions.


B.   The Strategic Planning Process

  • Staff — Staff understands the vision, knows what it takes to get there, packages the information in a clear and concise manner, makes great presentations of that information to the managers and appropriate committee and volunteer leadership.
  • UWAA Management — Understands the organizational vision and is confident that individual staff members are clear on what the issues are.  Management listens to staff and help guide decisions with a bigger picture in mind.  Great decisions are made as to which issues need to be processed to a larger volunteer audience.
    • Volunteer Committees — The UWAA understands how to use its committee structure to gain valuable insight and guidance in the decisions that affect the future of the organization.  The committees receive well-designed briefing papers and a quality meeting experience.  The committee members have the best volunteer experience in the region.
    • UWAA Board of Trustees — Is kept well informed on all critical issues affecting the UWAA.  They are in total agreement with the UWAA vision and are given quality information to make great decisions about how to manage the UWAA assets and business efforts.  All Board members are educated and engaged in reviewing the plan.
    • UWAA Board of Trustees—Executive Committee — Is a highly engaged group of volunteers that are very informed and help direct the major policy decisions from a strong understanding of the UWAA’s vision and business model.


C.    Processing Critical Issues

There are very few crises because everyone engaged with the UWAA clearly understands its vision and its business model and participate in finding the best answer to any issue.  The majority of the critical issues are managed through a series of facilitated discussions including the appropriate staff members, the managing directors, the UWAA committee system, the Executive Committee and, if required, the Board of Trustees.


2.   UWAA STAFF                                                                                                                  


A.  Human Resources                                                                                     (Gunn Cooper)


B.   The UWAA Home – New Alumni House                                                  (John Buller)

The UWAA develops and helps build an outstanding Alumni Center that is in partnership, if possible, with a cooperative University of Washington.


  • The building is developed and designed to maximize our efforts to welcome alumni and friends back to the University.  The building’s programming offers a variety of sources for engaging a wide variety of visitors to the University of Washington.  Meetings of visiting groups, international visitors, donors, students, families of students, alumni and friends of the University know the building as the gateway to the University.  The efforts of the UWAA give the organization a reputation as a great partner which enhance our reputation.  When the building is completed, staff have a highly functional and enjoyable workspace, alumni visitors have a choice of meeting rooms that help facilitate a quality working environment.


C.   Crisis Management                                                                          (Pauline Ranieri)




A.   Board of Trustees                                                                                 (John Buller)

The UWAA Board of Trustees is made up of a diverse group of individuals representing a wide variety of alumni groups that are highly respected in the community as well as on campus.  These individuals are passionate about creating success for the UWAA and use their expertise and networks to help foster that success.

  • There are consistent, new Board member identification and recruitment opportunities from lots of places – Campus, UW Administration, Board Members and the greater community.
  • Board members serve on the committees to be more engaged in the Association’s decision-making process.
  • Board members regularly attend board meetings.
  • Board members are very informed about the UWAA – its history, its culture and its vision.
  • The Board consistently has diverse representation of many ethnic communities in the alumni population.
  • Board members are proud to tell their friends about the Association and encourage them to be members.
  • Board members bring resources and assets to help support UWAA programs.
  • Board members have a great deal of fun and feel very appreciated.

B.   UWAA Executive Committee                                                                  (John Buller)

The UWAA Board of Trustees Executive Committee engages in robust discussions about the UWAA’s strategic plan, its visions, its business plan, and the financial resources needed to accomplish those visions.  They help provide UWAA’s management with the needed resources, while at the same time ensuring that the management team stays on track.  They serve as the primary facilitators of policies, procedures and programs that are brought to the Board of Trustees.

  • Executive Committee members have been part of the UWAA for several years and have been effectively educated in the history and issues facing the Association.
  • Executive Committee members have earned a high level of respect from their fellow board members.
  • Executive Committee members have a complete understanding of the UWAA strategic plan and work relentlessly toward accomplishing the plan.
  • The Executive Committee is one of the most rewarding volunteer leadership positions in the region.
  • Executive Committee members have a great deal of fun and feel appreciated for their efforts.


C.   Alumni Leadership Councils (The Geographic Leadership Council and the Academic and Special Interest Group Leadership Council)                                                                              (Aileen Kelly)



D.   UWAA Committee System                                                                     (John Buller)

The UWAA uses its outstanding committee system to engage the best minds in the region in helping to guide the strategic activities of the UWAA.  The UWAA committee structure is known as the best-run volunteer experience in the region.

  • Qualified individuals in the region want to volunteer for the UWAA communities.
  • Committee members ask to return to the committees year after year.
  • Staff knows how to support these committees in a professional manner and use the committees to help formulate policies and strategies that accomplish the UWAA visions.
  • Staff members are rated as outstanding in packaging and presenting materials, and committee member communication is outstanding.
  • Committee members consistently give high marks on their volunteer satisfaction monitors.
  • Committee members have a great deal of fun and feel very appreciated.


E.   Volunteer Relations and Support                                                            (Karla Tofte)



4.   PROGRAM AND EVENT PRODUCTION PLANNING PROCESS                      (John Buller)



The UWAA provides an excellent internal production planning and communications process that completes projects on time, on budget and with accuracy, while simultaneously providing timely event planning and production communications to staff, partners and volunteers.  This planning process and system interfaces with the UWAA’s financial system and gives all staff members’ timely financial information whenever needed.  When considering future events and program development, we will engage a communications planning system that encourages creativity, new ideas, and an environment that freely explores: a) why we continue doing something we’ve done before; b) why we should consider not doing something again; c) possibly doing something we’ve never done before, and d) always consider all options in light of our mission, vision and values. The planning process is a collaborative effort involving input from our Communications Team, and our Alumni Relations and Event Management teams.



A.   Communications Production Planning

  • Alumni Relations and Event Managers – Alumni Relations and Events Managers are the group that provide staff leadership for UWAA programs and events.  This group, working in concert with volunteers, is responsible for overall planning and execution.  The group manages record keeping and is responsible for the primary decisions with regard to ensuring that programs and events fit and/or fulfill the UWAA mission, vision and brand attributes.  This group has strong opinions about how the events should be marketed.
  • Communications Team – The Communications Team (membership, writers, Web, graphics, print production, project trafficking and sponsorship) has the primary responsibility to determine how each of the UWAA programs and events will be marketed and communicated to the UWAA’s many audiences.  The Communications Team understands the nature of all UWAA programs and events, the UWAA use of resources, as well as overall communication opportunities.  The Communications Team ensures a comprehensive, consistent and efficient communication strategy is used to ensure the most strategic use of communications resources.
  • Management Team – The Management Team understands the unique dynamics of a highly energized production planning process.  The team works hard to ensure that a highly cooperative effort is maintained, realizing that in the end, the UWAA takes complete ownership of their programs and events. The Alumni Relations and Events Team should have strong opinions about marketing and communications, while the Communications Team should have strong opinions about which programs and events are most important, and offers thoughts and ideas about how to improve UWAA programming.  The Management Team manages this creative conflict.
  • Volunteers – Volunteers are asked to be part of these discussions from a strategic point of view.  Volunteer committees, the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees are all engaged in understanding the critical issues and advising the UWAA staff on solutions and directions in which the UWAA should be going.
  • Annual Planning Meeting — In early February, the Alumni Relations and Event Management Team hosts the Annual Planning Meeting.  The purpose of this meeting is to clarify the proposed programs and events that the UWAA is conducting for the fiscal year starting on July 1st of that year and extending through June 30th of the following year.
  • Strategic Marketing and Communication Process — After the Annual Planning Meeting, the Alumni Relations Event Managers and Communications Team create a master marketing and communication plan.  This planning effort includes all forms of communication and serves as the base planning document for production of and budgeting for the UWAA’s marketing and communication efforts.  The Communications Team sorts the programs and events by alumni relations, events, newsletters, Columns and electronic to insure an integrated and global approach to marketing and communication is accomplished.  Each alumni relations manager and event manager that is identified as primarily responsible receives an individual briefing on this event marketing and communication planning process.  Adjustments are made at these meetings.  Once the plan is built, it is expected that the only exceptions to the plan that are allowed are those that have been approved by the UWAA Management Team.
  • Semi-Annual Planning Meetings – Two times per year (June, November) the Communications Team and Alumni Relations and Event Management Team meets to ensure all strategic assumptions are on track and that the plan is proceeding as originally defined.
  • Creative Meetings — After the annual calendar is defined, a number of the programs and events require a structured creative meeting.  The purpose of these creative meetings is to more clearly define the vision and communication messages of these events.  In each of these cases, the traffic manager schedules brainstorming meetings to facilitate these discussions.  The results of these meetings are:  Confirmation or revision of previously selected communications objects (print, web, TV or other media).  To define the visual and written elements of the communications object.  To trigger the concept design process for graphics/web which will be presented at Turn-In.  To trigger the concepting and writing of draft copy and messages for presentation at Turn-In.
  • Turn-In Meetings

B.   Meetings

The traffic manager schedules turn-in meetings on all UWAA programs and events that need to have a communication execution.  These meetings are held to ensure that all Communication Team members have a clear understanding of all production details.  On many of the larger projects, the Graphic Design Team presents to the alumni relations managers and event managers, including any UWAA campus partners that are involved. After this meeting, it is expected that all planning and creative discussions have already been held.  The Design and Production manager establishes production schedules for print and copy development.  From this point forward, the focus rests on production efficiency, mailing and Web launches.


C.   Tactics

  • We hold timely planning and creative meetings to effectively develop and execute marketing communications plans for our events and programs.
  • We provide excellent brand identity and design style guidance to all of our staff, partners and volunteers that greatly diminishes confusion and uncertainty about how the UWAA conveys its image and messages through everything we produce – print, Web, events, programs.
  • We have an effective e-mail delivery method to reach entire or defined Association audiences, and the policies and procedures that govern this emerging communications channel for the UWAA.
  • Annually, we examine and detail our Association’s print, postage and mail preparation needs to support all of our event and program communication plans, accompanied with associated financial detail.
  • We efficiently use our resources – financial, staff and volunteers’ time, and the production time dedicated to graphic design, copywriting, proofreading, Web design, event planning, and print production.
  • Production planning is integrated into an interactive management database program that allows staff access to budget templates, expense details, historical notes, calendars, schedulers, vendors, and UWAA in-house resources—creating a transparent operating environment to facilitate open communications and rapid response to opportunities and problems.
  • Flexible calendaring:  We can look at any aspect of our organization from any view point—alumni relations, events, accounting, communications, marketing or membership—and see their respective status as a project, event or work center.
  • Smart scheduling:  We use timelines to see at a glance each activity currently under way, along with having capability to adjust instantly as changing circumstances require.
  • Automatic notifications:  Notifications are generated for concept, planning, and other meetings, including due-dates and past-due reminders to appropriate staff.
  • Security:  Access levels are defined for flexibility and confidentiality to read, add, modify or delete records.  Management can view all records and files.  Special access control exists for reports and other functions.
  • Vendor lists are collected, referenced and cross-referenced by activity, project and work center.
  • Volunteer lists are collected and cross-referenced to each event or activity.
  • Expenses are entered and exported to accounting for live tracking of all project costs.
  • Internet accessible by staff, both in and out of the office.
  • Our staff is trained on how to use these systems effectively.
    • Handling a CrisisFrom time to time the Production Planning Process may face a crisis.  When that happens UWAA Management Team takes hands-on control.  Discussions might include the portion of or the entire Executive Committee but generally the decision will rest with the Management Team or the Executive Director.


5.   FINANCIAL AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT                                        (Gunn Cooper)


6.   INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY                                                                  (John Burkhardt)


7.   NON-DUES REVENUE GENERATION                                        (John Buller/Lisa Werner)



The Association has the opportunity to increasingly leverage its ability to draw audiences to its programs and events that are demographically desirable to corporate sponsors, such that they willingly enter sponsorship agreements that provide the UWAA monetary or in-kind compensation in return for exposure to our attendees.  Sponsorship exposure can include brand and logo placement in event print and Web materials, event signage, speaker’s recognitions, in-kind sample distribution, print collateral distribution, and podium presentation opportunities.


A.  Sponsorships

By the year 2007, the UWAA will have a comprehensive, vibrant and lasting sponsorship program with solid corporate relationships and consistent annual funding.  We continue to build the number of in-kind product donations that allow us to produce events with less financial impact on the Association.

  • UWAA is adept at finding corporate partners, learning their needs, and clearly communicating and providing solutions.
  • The UWAA reaches sufficiently large alumni audiences through our communications and events attendance to earn a sponsorship fee.  We work with media partners to broaden our reach.
  • UWAA and corporations create mutually-beneficial partnerships that take advantage of the full family of marketing inventory including event sponsorship, affinity programs, audiences for sponsors’ products/services, advertising in Columns Magazine, articles in The Fountain, and presence on our Web site.
  • UWAA provides the avenues for corporations to fulfill their community relations, human resources or marketing goals.  We maintain year-round open dialogue and contribute measurable results to corporations in the form of increased sales, recruiting, goodwill/visibility, or other desired areas.
  • Corporations view the UWAA as a formidable competitor to Seafair, One Reel, and other organizations in Seattle who offer sponsorship programs.
  • The entire UWAA staff works as a team to acquire and retain sponsors.
  • We retain sponsors year-over-year at a 90% or higher rate.  We treat sponsors well, exceed their expectations, and renew contracts annually.
  • We maintain the integrity of our programming and events while giving the sponsor due credit and visibility.


B.   Affinity Relations

The Association actively seeks multi-year corporate affinity partnerships that provide royalty revenue streams.  In return, our corporate affinity partners receive our endorsement for their products or services, which they market under a legally binding licensing agreement to our alumni.  We retain control of our alumni contact lists, the use of our trademarks and identity, and their contact frequency with our audience.


The UWAA desires corporate affinity partners with highly reputable products or services that our alumni would perceive as having high relevance and value in their lives.  It is especially desirable when the Association can negotiate a corporate affinity relationship that can provide an additional value or reward recognition for UWAA members, creating a distinct and privileged membership benefit.


As we research and develop new affinity partnerships and conduct annual reviews of current partnerships, we use a standard set of filters in determining the potential performance or continued successful performance of a particular program.  Standard filters will evaluate the appropriateness of the product or service for alumni constituents, positive reputation and references from peer institutions, high customer service standards, ability to market nationally, beneficial royalty fee structure, and compliance with IRS regulations which prohibit unrelated business income tax on royalty fees paid to the association.





Key Measures

®   UWAA Membership Levels (meet or exceed target levels)

®   Financial Accountability (meet or exceed approved budget)

®   UWAA Event Participation (exceed prior year’s levels)

®   Volunteer Experience (ranking based on survey results that monitor volunteer satisfaction)

®   Individual Staff Performance Objectives (meet a prerequisite performance level in one’s area of focus)





1.   MEMBERSHIP                                                                                             (Lisa Werner)




A.  Travel                                                                                               (Pauline Ranieri)


B.  Husky Career Advantage                                                                    (Don Gallagher)


C.   Lifelong Learning                                                                                 (Aileen Kelly)


D.   Clubs and Chapters (Aileen Kelly/Camille DeSantis/Jennifer Wheeler/Courtney Acitelli)


E.    Diversity                                                                     (Courtney Acitelli/Aileen Kelly)


F.    Campus Partnerships                                                                           (Aileen Kelly)


UWAA/College of Arts & Sciences Partnership                                 (Karen Demorest)


UWAA/Business School Partnership                                                         (Chris Marx)


G.    Intercollegiate Athletics                                                                            (John Buller)

The UWAA and ICA work closely together on a variety of projects and events.  These activities help Alumni and friends experience quality game day experiences, and high levels of Husky spirit.  The partnership is built on a high level of trust and respect that both units are receiving equal value for their efforts.

  • ICA receives consistent levels of game day fan experiences that helps build loyalty to Husky Athletics.  ICA receives quality event management and tailored opportunities to have coaches and management personnel relate in a positive way to Husky fans.
  • UWAA receives opportunities to be positioned as a co-branded partner with Husky Athletics in helping to create quality game day experiences and Husky spirit events.  UWAA receives opportunities to expose large Husky athletic audiences to the key messages of the UWAA and helps to find ways to increase UWAA membership.
  • Both UWAA and ICA have a clear understanding of each others expectations (who does what) and clarity about the overall financial expense and human resources required to execute the partnership.
  • The President of UWAA Board of Directors participates on the Tyee Board while the Senior Associate Athletics Director participates on the UWAA Board of Directors.


H.   Young Alumni                                                                                 (Courtney Acitelli)


I.     International Alumni Relations                                                              (Aileen Kelly)


J.    UW Tacoma and UW Bothell Campuses                                                   [John Buller]

The UWAA has a responsibility to engage alumni and friends of the two University’s branch schools in lifelong relationship with their schools.  In partnership with those campuses’ Development staff, the UWAA helps provide events and programs to engage these audiences.  A primary focus of the UWAA outreach will be its career programs, lifelong learning and fun.

  • The UWAA partners with campus staff to execute at least two community-building events early in the year.
  • The UWAA has a consistent career focused program that is well understood by alumni, faculty, staff, and students of both schools.
  • The UWAA finds opportunities to partner on lifelong learning events on campus.
  • The alumni of both campuses join the UWAA at rates equal to the main campus graduates.



A.   Columns Magazine                                                             (Tom Griffin/Jon Marmor)


B.   Alumni Communications                                                  (Jim Hughes, John Buller)

UWAA members, UW alumni, students and friends receive timely, informative communications about a myriad of events, programs, benefits and services provided by the Association.  In addition to the communication services offered by Columns Magazine and the Association’s Web tactics, numerous other communication tactics employed by the Association effectively engage alumni and friends with the UWAA in both one-way and two-way facilitated connections.

UWAA Brand and Identity

  • We clearly articulate our brand and our identity in everything we produce.
  • We have a brand and identity guide produced for ownership and reference by all Association staff, partners, volunteers, and any other contact as necessary.

Key Messages

  • We have clear, concise messages developed that convey the Association’s meaning and intent on all key issues.
  • We present key messages with continuity and repetition where possible to precisely convey our intent and direction.
  • UWAA staff are frequently updated and informed on the Association’s messages.
  • We survey members and non-members to determine how our messages are being perceived and remembered.

Audience Segments

  • For each program or event being supported by our communications, the Association is diligent in defining the receiving audience segment, so as to fully understand their unique demographics, characteristics and interests.
  • Our communications are planned, designed and written in a manner that fully recognizes the most effective means to connect with each targeted segment.
  • Our staff effectively communicates and informs each other about how to best identify, and effectively reach each of our audience segments.

Event Promotion

The UWAA produces and promotes numerous events throughout the year.  The Association is extremely effective in using all of its communication tactics and channels to reach its intended audience segments, and to move them to register for events appealing to their interests.

  • We provide a range of communication tactics and methods that are presented for use by alumni relations and event coordination staff, who are properly trained in their most effective application.
  • We develop our communication methods and tactics to maximize communication and production value, taking advantage of standardization wherever possible to keep costs down.
  • We effectively negotiate with our vendors to provide quality, cost-sensitive collateral that proudly represents all UWAA programs and events to our satisfaction.

Gathering Feedback

We produce and distribute surveys and other feedback instruments to better understand our target audiences—learning how to more effectively promote and produce our programs and events.  This two-way relationship keeps the Association in touch and informed, while providing our alumni and friends the opportunity to share their thoughts.


  • We produce print and electronic newsletters to effectively reach both large and small alumni segments, including clubs, chapters, special interest groups, or even all Association members.  We plan their production and distribution to balance the need to timely inform with the sensitivity to budget constraints.
  • We seek all means possible to more cost effectively produce and distribute Web-based “e-newsletters”, which reach any defined audience via e-mail distribution.  As with our print newsletter counterparts, the Association’s e-newsletters will be created under the UWAA’s strict graphic standards and style elements.  Capturing e-mail addresses for potential e-newsletter recipients is a bold tactic we always employ.
  • Our identity is clear and bold in all of our newsletters, adhering to our pre-established standards for quality graphics, content and branding (and co-branding when involved with one or more of our partners).


C.   Worldwide Web and Online Services                                               (John Burkhardt)


4.    Events                                                                       (Suzanne Mercier/Bryan Daisley)



Key Measures

®   Scholarship Fundraising (meet or exceed prior year’s performance)

®   Volunteer Experience (ranking based on survey results that monitor volunteer satisfaction)

®   Financial Accountability (meet or exceed approved budget)

®   Individual Staff Performance Objectives (meet a prerequisite performance level in one’s area of focus)




1.   UW Partner Relations                                                                                      (John Buller)

The UWAA is known for being a great partner.  Campus units and community groups seek out the UWAA to become part of their strategic plan.  We provide consistent and useful skills that our partners utilize to enhance their success.

  • UWAA partnerships enhance both partners’ opportunities for success.
  • UWAA clearly understands what it wants from its partnerships and has clear and predictable skills that it utilizes in creating the success of any partnership.
  • UWAA partnerships are a key strategy in advancing the mission and vision of the Association.
  • The entire staff is clear on what partnerships are good for, how to create successful partnerships and regularly meet or exceed expectations of our partners.


2.   Legislative Support and Advocacy                                                               (John Buller)

The UWAA is a direct help in connecting University of Washington alumni to Washington State legislators throughout the state.  These personal connections help shape the opinions of the state’s elected officials with regard to those issues that affect the future of the University of Washington.  The UWAA also helps inform all alumni and friends of the University about those issues critical to the University of Washington.

  • We are able to define key state legislators and match them with regional volunteers.
  • We assist in the management of Higher Education Day events for the University.


3.   UW – UWAA Operating Agreement                                                               (John Buller)

The University of Washington and the UWAA have a strong and well-understood operating agreement. The agreement is based upon a common trust and supports the UWAA by using the organization’s unique 501(c)(3) status and core competencies as resources to enhance the University of Washington’s relationship with its alumni and friends.


The UWAA continues to be the contract manager for all general alumni relationships – communications, (both print and electronic), affiliations (clubs and chapters of smaller affinity groups), and use of alumni registry (the method by which alumni and friends stay connected to each other.


The UWAA’s role is clearly defined – as it interacts with the University of Washington’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations.  The UWAA is perceived as a partner in all diversity issues, career programs, and plays a big role in the University’s lifelong learning efforts.

  • Define key issues and UWAA’s position.
  • Have issues and position discussed and owned by UWAA’s Board.
  • Have a lawyer help position the agreement.
  • Negotiate a new agreement with the UW.


4.   UW Campaign                                                                                              (John Buller)

The UWAA is a strong force in reaching, connecting and celebrating alumni and friends of the University to build lifelong relationships and to support the University’s mission.  The well-defined relationship to the University units and the strong event and communication programs helps engage large groups of alumni and friends in giving back to the University.

  • We maintain high level of programming and communication that engages a wide variety of alumni groups.
  • We are a valuable connection that helps drive higher levels of alumni participation both in volunteering and financial gifts.


5.   Enhancing the Student Experience                                                         (Courtney Acitelli)


6.   Student Scholarships                                                       (Aileen Kelly/Courtney Acitelli)



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