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New Playbook Resource: How To Engage Alumni

MFG Archive, Opinion

In our latest viewpoints, Beth Kanter talks about how the nonprofit sector can use playbook as a capacity building tool.


I am a huge fan of Playbooks in the nonprofit sector as a capacity building tool.  A playbook is an online resource that is basically knowledge capture around a specific practice or type of program.  The playbook collects, organizes, and synthesizes best practices from “bright spots” and others adopting this practice.    A good playbook incorporates lessons learned, case studies, resources, checklists, and other useful materials for other organizations that want to improve their practice or adopt it.    It can help raise the practice in a field quickly and for individual organizations it can be a huge time saver.


I’ve seen this first hand. For the past two years, I’ve been facilitating an online peer learning exchange for Knight Foundation grantees who are using the Giving Day Playbook, developed by Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies for those wanting to host Giving Days.  Using the Playbook, participants were able to get up to speed quickly and not waste time or resources.  Even better, as organizations apply the playbook,  new knowledge is added back into the Playbook. In addition, Knight Foundation is now hosting a series of Advanced Topic Webinars to help more giving day hosts get to the next level of practice.


I’m also working with another playbook, this one for emerging nonprofit leaders, and also developed by Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies for the Packard Foundation.   We are using the Emerging Leaders Playbook as a textbook for a peer learning project for emerging nonprofit leaders.


So, I was really excited to hear that The Charles and Lynn Schustermann Family Foundation has just launched a very useful digital resource for organizations that need to cultivate and engage their alumni communities.  This strategy is an essential element of organizational sustainability, but unfortunately many nonprofits lack the knowledge and resources to develop comprehensive alumni initiatives.   That’s why the foundation has launched the Alumni Playbook, a resource that allows organization to quickly adopt new practices.


The Alumni Playbook is a hands-on resource to foster discussion and action within organizations that are just starting to think about their alumni strategy or simply looking to revitalize their alumni communities. Through best practices, programming ideas and detailed case studies, the Playbook is designed to help community initiators learn from successful alumni programs and provide them with conceptual guidance, practical advice and tactical support as they plan, shape and implement alumni programming and community-building strategies.


The Alumni Playbook was created by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation with significant contributions from AVODAH, Birthright Israel Excel, the Bronfman Fellowships, JDC-Entwine, Moishe House, ROI Community and Tevel b’Tzedek. It also features the insights and perspectives of a wide variety of organizations, including Teach For America and Yale University.


The Foundation is also hosting a webinar to take a deeper dive into the Alumni Playbook with Schusterman Foundation Vice President Lisa Eisen and a panel of alumni experts. This interactive webinar includes an introduction to the contents of the Playbook, an in-depth panel discussion on alumni engagement and a Q&A session for audience members with burning questions.


What other nonprofit playbooks have you discovered or used?

Many thanks to Beth Kanter for her piece about alumni playbook. Be sure to follow her on Twitter at @Kanter!


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