Events & Community Support

Ideas for Events and Supporting the Community

Carolina Club Events
“Successful events are rooted in thoughtful, sometimes frustrating planning. You may be tempted to build a grand event full of razzle-dazzle and hoopla, but if it is not solidly anchored in mission-accomplishing strategy, your efforts – and money – will be wasted.”
— April Harris

Carolina Club events can range from informal TV viewing parties to trips to formal dinners to galas.

Event Ideas

  • Wine tastings
    Four reds and four whites offer a good variety. Food can be light–cheese & fruit trays work well. Wine shop owners are fond of events like these that help increase their customer base and are usually willing to work with you and offer discounts on purchases made that evening.
  • Behind-the-scenes events
    These events can range from behind-the-scenes events at zoos and aquariums to “hard hat” tours of buildings. Alumni contact is key to this type of event. An inside contact can get you into an area not open to the general public.
  • Seasonal events
    Meet and attend a concert in the park as a group. Sponsor a booth at a community fair as a fundraiser. Candlelight strolls and dinner events are popular during the holidays.
  • Speaker events
    Find out what the “hot” topics in your communities are and organize a speaker event. If the topic is really “hot” you can sometimes even reach a broader audience than just Carolina alumni.

No matter what the event, all successful events have some commonalties:

Successful Events Start with WHY
The next time you are in your club leadership committee meeting planning your events for the next six months, ask your committee why your Carolina Club is hosting this event.

Will the event:

  • Support the club’s mission?
  • Achieve a specific club goal?
  • Friend-raise and/or fundraise?
  • Build goodwill for Carolina?
Successful Events Require PLANNING

The club leadership committee should meet annually to plan the club’s activity level for the coming year. The GAA recommends the following activity levels for clubs: 

  • Clubs with more than 1,000 alumni should host at least five events per year.
  • Clubs with 500 – 1000 alumni should host at least three events per year.

Once the overall calendar is set, the planning for each event can begin. 

Event Timeline

Six to 12 months from event date

  • Select event coordinator
  • Set event budget
  • Select/reserve site*
  • Conduct site visit
  • Book caterer, music, speaker, etc.*

*Coordinator of Alumni Clubs will review contracts if you have questions 

Four to six months from event date

Two to three months from event date


  • Decide on invitation/club notice wording and mailing list and discuss with Coordinator of Alumni Clubs
  • Decide on menu and décor
  • Hold the date information should be included in club e-mail messages and the event should be listed on club Web site
One month from event date


  • Invitations should be in the mail
  • Finalize menu selection
  • Finalize décor arrangements
  • Secure any audio/visual equipment needed
Two weeks from event date


  • Have event committee make follow-up phone calls
  • Touch base with caterer, speaker, etc.

Three – five days from event date

  • Determine final guest count for caterer/site etc.
  • Determine how many “walk-ups” can be accommodated
Day prior to the event


  • Pull together all the materials needed for the event (scissors, banners, tape, nametags, pens, door prizes, raffle tickets, registration lists, sign-in sheets, etc.)
  • Make one last mental run-through of the event

Day of the event


  • Arrive at least one hour before the event to check room set up, hang banners, test audio/visual equipment, and set up registration table
  • Greet guests as they arrive
  • Take pictures
  • Smile, enjoy yourself, and keep an eye out for new volunteers!
After the event


  • Let the Coordinator of Alumni Clubs know attendance and post-event details
  • Send thank you notes to speaker (if applicable)
  • Hold a de-briefing meeting with your committee

GAA Club Event Support

The Coordinator of Alumni Clubs is your personal event consultant. He will: 

  • Review and help negotiate contracts with event sites, caterers, etc.
  • Design and produce specialty invitations when appropriate
  • Loan GAA funds to cover up front event costs (in special circumstances only)
  • Coordinate arrangements for a Carolina speaker
  • Staff or provide GAA staff for an event if appropriate

Tar Heel Service Days and Community Service

The mission of The University of North Carolina involves serving the citizens of our state and nation, which led the GAA to create Tar Heel Service Days and to make it a requirement for consideration for Old Well Carolina Club status. Tar Heel Service Days is a nationwide public service effort sponsored by Carolina Clubs as part of the celebration of University Day. You and your local alumni are encouraged to participate in a community service project during the month of October.

Your club can participate in Tar Heel Service Days through a variety of community service projects. These projects provide the opportunity to realize the University’s humanitarian goals while having a positive impact on society. Through community service, your club members can help the homeless, elderly, disabled, abused, illiterate, and underprivileged. Volunteering our time and talents in the name of Carolina can be one of the most rewarding opportunities for members of your Carolina Club. 

Remember that an effort that is attractive to you may not be appealing to the bulk of the alumni (your prospective volunteer force).  Always poll your club leadership committee, or, if possible, the club members, before launching a project.  (This can be done through newsletters and club mailings.)  Don’t set yourself up for a let down by becoming emotionally committed to a project in which most others are not interested.  Choose a project that appeals to as many people as possible and that is a reasonable undertaking for your group. It is important to consider the number of volunteers needed to take on a project. 

Don’t sign up to build an entire home for an organization if you don’t have a large group. Instead, sign up to provide some help.  Also, don’t get caught up in the trap of assuming that you need a large number of volunteers to take on a project.  It only takes one person to make a difference in the life of someone in need.  For example, if you teach an adult to read, you are also giving that person hope and an opportunity to be fully functional in society.  In this instance your impact is multifold. Never consider a project a failure.

If you can look back at the project and feel as if you and your group made a difference, then it was a worthwhile project.  So, if only five volunteers respond to recruitment efforts through a newsletter–don’t worry!  Put them to work and together you can make a contribution to the project.

Remember that only clubs who participate in Tar Heel Service Days are eligible for Old Well Carolina Club status.


Community Service Organizations and Projects
When trying to identify a project for your club it is often a good idea to call one of your fellow club leaders or one of the local or national community service clearinghouses.  The following are some organizations you may want to contact:


  • VolunteerMatch:
    VolunteerMatch is dedicated to helping everyone find a great place to volunteer. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofits, volunteers and business leaders committed to civic engagement. The VolunteerMatch Web site welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 30,000 nonprofit organizations. Search for volunteer opportunities online at or call (415) 241-6868.
  • The United Way of America:
    The United Way addresses health and human-care issues by providing information and assistance to more than 37,000 human-service agencies and programs.  The United Way welcomes volunteers and provides a countless number of service opportunities.  The United Way will provide your club with an Agency Directory listing the organizations it assists in your community.  The United Way of America can be reached at (703)836-7100.  Their address is 701 N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

  • is the premier Web site on service and volunteering. Through SERVEnet, users can enter their zip code, city, state, skills, interests, and availability and be matched with organizations needing help. SERVEnet is also a place to search for calendar events, job openings, service news, recommended books, and best practices.

Areas of Service



  • Adopt-A-School
  • Literacy
  • Mentorship
  • Shadowing Programs
  • Tutoring


  • National Audubon Society
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Sierra Club
  • Adopt-A-Highway


  • Blood Drives
  • Fundraisers for local children’s hospitals
  • Ronald McDonald House

Homelessness and Hunger

  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Local Food Banks
  • Food Drives
  • Soup Kitchens


  • Caroling
  • Crisis Lines
  • Shelters
  • Special Olympics
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Boys & Girls Clubs
  • Walk events sponsored by the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, etc. (consult your local phonebook for agency addresses and phone numbers)

Event Host Liabilities and Insurance
The General Alumni Association maintains a comprehensive commercial package/general liability insurance program.  This coverage extends to local clubs and local clubs’ leaders when certain conditions are met by the local clubs. The GAA policy provides liability coverage for local club leaders who are members of the GAA in the performance of their duties on behalf of the GAA, provided the club leaders are acting in accordance with stated GAA policies.  This coverage also applies to a spouse of club leaders who are Carolina Alumni members. Thus, it is important for club leaders to maintain their Carolina Alumni membership. It is also important to note that club leaders’ actions and activities must be in compliance with GAA policies.  In particular, club events must comply with the GAA’s Alumni Programs and Alcoholic Beverages policy. The GAA liability insurance policy will not provide coverage to club leaders or for events at which alcoholic beverages are served in a manner in conflict with this policy.

The GAA’s policy does not replace the need for any individual club leaders’ personal liability insurance. Club leaders are encouraged to consult with their personal insurance provider.

Alumni Programs and Alcoholic Beverages
The General Alumni Association recognizes that alcoholic beverages may be served at alumni programs and events from time to time. The Association’s Board of Directors has adopted the following policy with regard to the service of alcoholic beverages at officially sanctioned Association events: 

Alcoholic beverages may only be served: 

  • in a manner that is consistent with all local, state and federal laws and regulations
  • by a hired, qualified third party alcohol server
  • as part of an event that includes food service and non-alcoholic beverage service. 

Alcoholic beverages may not be served:

  • in a manner that promotes the service of the alcoholic beverages as “free” or “without cost”
  • “self-service” style or by any other uncontrolled means
  • at programs designed to attract current or prospective students who may be under 21 years old
  • by any volunteer or staff person representing the Association.

At any Association event, the distribution of free alcoholic beverages, of alcoholic beverages to minors or of alcoholic beverages to anyone who is intoxicated is prohibited.

This policy was adopted by the Board of Directors of the General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina on April 4, 1998.

Edward H. “Ned” Hardison
Chair, Board of Directors


To:     Sarah Lamm
From: Steve Shaw
Date:  2/17/2005
Re:     Insurance coverage for Club activities and Club leaders


This memo contains important information about the General Alumni Association’s insurance program and important implications to the leadership and activities of local Clubs. The Alumni Association maintains a comprehensive commercial package/general liability insurance program. Our policy specifically:


  • Notes the coverage is for a non-profit educational association;
  • Includes “clubs-civic, service or social”;
  • Extends coverage to include “members” while acting on behalf of the Alumni Association in accordance with our policies and standards.

This assurance should satisfy our club leaders and any vendors or facilities our local clubs may use that our policy covers Alumni Association members while performing local club activities on our behalf.  I strongly encourage all club leaders and participants involved in club events to maintain their membership in the Alumni Association to enjoy the coverage that our policy extends to members. This coverage also applies to a spouse of club leaders who are Carolina Alumni members. It is important to note that club leaders’ actions and activities must be in compliance with our policies. In particular, I would draw your attention and the Club’s attention to the “Alumni Programs and Alcoholic Beverages” policy approved by the Association’s Board of Directors. Our liability insurance policy will not provide coverage to club leaders or for events at which alcoholic beverages are served in a manner in conflict with this policy. 

The Association’s policy is not intended to replace any individual leaders’ personal liability insurance coverage. All Club leaders should be encouraged to consult with their own insurance agent regarding their personal insurance needs.

The Association’s local agent is Duke Thompson of Summers Thompson Lowry, LLC here in Chapel Hill. He may be reached at (919) 968-4472 to verify this information. Of course, any club leader may call me at (919) 962-3599 should they have any questions or concerns.

Please feel free to share this memo with any club leader to verify our insurance coverage. I will also be happy to share a copy of the declaration page of our current policy with any club leader, upon request, if this would be helpful. Copies also are available for use by the vendors or facilities with which the local club does business.

Please let me know if you or any of our Club leaders have any questions.