New Club Guide

Starting or Reviving an Alumni Club

Are you interested in establishing a new Wharton Club in your region or affinity? Do you want to revive a club that has become inactive? Contact us at globalclubs@wharton.upenn.edu to get started. We will use the steps below as a framework for this process.

1. Assess Feasibility

Privacy Policy
To begin the process, all alumni volunteers petitioning for a new club to be established must first sign a privacy policy. You may do so online at this link.


Potential Membership Base
Once a privacy policy is on file for each volunteer, a Global Clubs team member will assess feasibility by running a report on the group's potential alumni audience. This part of the process varies depending on the nature of the audience.

  • Regional groups include all alumni with a preferred address within a 50 mile radius
  • Industry-based groups include all alumni with a industry tag, based on employment information shared with the University
  • Interest-based groups are measured purely by alumni opt-in and cannot be reported by University records. Volunteers will need to collect signatures to demonstrate a critical mass of interest.

Thresholds
Regional groups must have a possible membership minimum of 200 domestic or 75 international alumni. At least 75% of the membership base must be Wharton alumni.

Industry and interest-based affinity groups must have a possible membership minimum of 500 alumni, with representatives from at least five cities. In the case of an interest-based affinity group, volunteers must independently collect signatures in order to meet this minimum threshold.

 

Other Options

If the regional threshold requirement is unable to be met, a member of the Global Clubs team can connect you to any active Penn alumni clubs in your region. Likewise, consider exploring the option of developing a special interest group with your local Wharton or Penn alumni club to connect with other alumni in your industry or interest group.

2. Convene a Leadership Team

  1. Once it is determined that there is critical mass to support a club, enlist additional alumni to assist in the planning and execution process.

  2. A minimum of two officers/board members, with separate individuals fulfilling the roles of President and Treasurer, is required to proceed. The President must be a degreed alumnus of Wharton. In certain circumstances, the President may be a degreed alumnus of Penn with approval from the Wharton School. Additional information on required and recommended club officer roles can be found here.

  3. The recommended number of leaders is five to 15 volunteers. The majority of the leadership team must be Wharton or Penn alumni.

  4. The leadership team must meet at least once a year, but should plan to meet more frequently when getting started. Minutes should be recorded during these meetings.

  5. The leadership team should agree on the goals and objectives of the club and brainstorm an initial list of potential activities. Clubs are required to hold at least two events per year. The recommendation is to hold events at least quarterly.

3. Establish a Plan

  1. The newly formed leadership team should now schedule another call with its staff liaison. Your staff liaison will share best practices from other clubs and offer guidance and feedback.

  2. Your staff liaison can also connect you with experienced volunteers from established clubs for mentorship and advice.

  3. With the help of your staff liaison, your club will:
    • Create a mission statement: A mission statement is the foundation of the club’s goals and priorities. Every club should have a clear and defined vision for their purpose.

    • Institute bylaws: Bylaws offer organizational governance, set precedent for mediating conflict, and set forth your succession plan. You may draft your own version of bylaws, or adapt those provided on the Wharton Officers website.

    • Open a bank account: A bank account should be opened in the club’s name for bookkeeping purposes. Most clubs offer check-signing privileges to the President and Treasurer.

    • Launch an online presence: There are two primary ways to establish an online presence. Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) is recommended for new clubs or clubs still organizing. For fully established and functioning clubs, Wharton offers a free website. This website serves as an administrative tool that links your club to the School’s alumni database and offers tools for communication and event registration. More information on launching a site on the School's platform can be found here. If this website platform is not used, a membership list should be established. Your staff liaison can advise you on your best option for a web presence.

    • Consider obtaining non-profit tax status (for US-based clubs): 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(7) are US Internal Revenue Service codes providing tax-exempt status to charitable organizations, including alumni associations, operating in the United States. The School does not advise for or against this process. International clubs are not similarly situated; however, we recommend that you contact your staff liaison if you have any questions.

4. Announce the Club

  1. Your staff liaison will add your club to our marketing materials and club directory.

  2. Recruit new members by contacting all alumni in the region or affinity group. Your staff liaison will provide a list with contact data and a template for the announcement.

  3. If your club has launched a website on the platform provided by the School, you can send a welcome letter to your new membership database using the website’s email tool.

  4. Your staff liaison can also help you develop a survey to better understand the demographics and interests of your membership base.

  5. Hold an inaugural event. Your staff liaison can share best practices on event planning, realistic goals for attendance, marketing, and more.

5. Build Momentum

  1. Many new clubs struggle to keep going after the first event. It is important to plan an event calendar for the upcoming year. Your staff liaison can share best practices for diverse events that will target different groups in your membership base.

  2. Many clubs host signature events such an annual gala, holiday party, or summer BBQ.

  3. Partner with The Penn Club, other business school alumni groups, or the All Ivy or Ivy Plus groups in your region to cross market events. Consider co-sponsoring programs to help boost attendance for large and high-profile events. Solely working in partnership with other organizations, however, does not typically yield strong alumni participation, so be sure to balance co-sponsored events with Wharton-specific events.

  4. We encourage all clubs to charge dues, which will help to build a solid financial base and enable the club to take on more ambitious initiatives in the future. Your staff liaison can provide examples and recommendations for dues structures.

  5. Copy your staff liaison on all club communications, and participate in regular calls with your staff liaison to check-in on your progress.