Regional Club Education Event to serve Remote Club Members

Level of difficulty: Basic
Cost to attend: Low

Event: A regional Yale Club held a luncheon lecture at Williamsburg, an historic site within its region, but far from its base in order to attract Club members near that site.

Lead time: 3 months
Date of event: mid-1990s

2 volunteers – 7 hours total
1 volunteer speaker – 2 hours

Results: 24 attendees (alumni and spouses)

Background: The Yale Club of Virginia represents alumni over a widespread geographical area. One of its challenges was to reach out to all of them. Although the core group resides in Richmond, there are significant clusters of alumni/ae south of Washington D.C., such as Fredericksburg, and east of Richmond, such as Williamsburg. Therefore, the following event sponsored by the Yale Club of Virginia was meant to reach out to colleagues in theWilliamsburg area

Why a success? The luncheon presentation not only attracted Richmond Yale alumni/ae (about 55 miles distant from Williamsburg), but also drew alums from the Williamsburg area who are less likely to attend Yale events held in Richmond. Secondly, Professor Axtell gave an excellent presentation that was enthusiastically received. Intellectually, a number of myths about Powatan’s Indian confederation were dispelled. In addition, the speaker provided detailed descriptions of Indian interaction with the English settlers in Jamestown in the early 17th century. As an added bonus, Colonial Williamsburg is a very attractive historical venue in which to hold an event.

Details: The luncheon was held in Colonial Williamsburg and the lecturer was a professor at nearby William and Mary College, who spoke about aspects of colonial history featured in his then recent book.

Club President (Dr. Bancroft F. Greene) invited Professor James Axtell, a graduate of Yale and Cambridge Universities, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the College of William and Mary (in Virginia), to give a talk on his (then) recent book, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE POWATAN EMPIRE.

This event was held at a Colonial Williamsburg dining facility at 12 noon on a Sunday where brunch was served. The cost was about $25 per person and was paid for in advance by the attendees.

About 75 invitations were mailed out via the quarterly newsletter netting approximately 2 dozen attendees, all alumni/ae and spouses.

Resources needed: The Club President knew Jim Axtell personally, so made the requisite arrangements. The Club President spent about 3 hours to secure the speaker and make the dining arrangements. AYA was not involved, and the Club’s volunteer secretary dealt with invitations through the newsletter and reservations requiring about 4 hours of his time.

Metrics: About 24 people attended, consisting of alumni and spouses. Attendees included not only some from the Richmond area, but also some from the Williamsburg area, who do not usually attend Club events.

Possible improvements: The quality of the event was excellent, but one always hopes to attract a larger crowd.