Alumni Relations Programs: Tufts University - Gold Medal

Category 1B: Alumni Relations – Alumni Programs
Tufts University – “Tufts World Day”

Contact: Gretchen Dobson, associate director, regional programs/project manager, Office of Alumni Relations, 95 Talbot Ave., Medford, MA 02155, Phone: (617) 627-3964, e-mail:

Mission Statements - Tufts University Office of Alumni Relations - Mission Statement: The Office of Alumni Relations, in collaboration with the Tufts University Alumni Association, strives to promote Tufts' spirit, tradition, and collegiality and to strengthen the links between our various constituencies and their alma mater.

Tufts University Alumni Association – Mission Statement: The Tufts University Alumni Association works to secure for the university the strong and united support of its alumni through the dedicated efforts of its committed volunteer council, regional chapters, and committees. The association seeks to develop and foster lifelong connections between and among alumni, students, and faculty of Tufts University. The organization strengthens these ties, beginning with students, by instilling a sense of belonging that will extend beyond graduation and continues with alumni by inviting them to actively support the future of the university.

Project Management: The Tufts World Day Committee was lead by project manager, Gretchen Dobson. Eleven professional staff members at Tufts and two members of the Tufts Alumni Council made up the planning committee. The group was intentionally formed to include both offices in which we traditionally cosponsor events as well as areas we hope to build a stronger partnership. The committee met every three weeks between April and October, 2006.

Tufts World Day 2006 – An Overview: On Thursday, October 19, 2006 we invited all Tufts University Alumni Association (TUAA) regional alumni chapters to participate in Tufts World Day: a series of orchestrated events around the world. Tufts World Day celebrated the networks of alumni, parents, students, and friends who are successfully fostering relationships with Tufts and with each other.

The TUAA regional chapter network is active and expanding. Whether an alumnus/a finds their home area on Tufts World Day – or traveling to another major city – the aim of the event was to provide everyone an opportunity to participate in this inaugural occasion. Tufts World Day also provides alumni chapters an incentive to sponsor a fall program that will attract interest in future programs. Finally, Tufts World Day promoted a connectedness to each other and back to alma mater just two weeks before the public launch of our fundraising endeavor, Beyond Boundaries: The Campaign for Tufts. A “Toast to Tufts” was developed for each chapter to recite on World Day. Of the 35 participating chapters, six cities recited the toast in front of professional video crews with the intention of using the footage to create one world-wide “Toast for Tufts” which would be used for campaign purposes.

The Office of Alumni Relations’ Regional Programs department served as the nucleus for the event coordination. Our office coordinated pre-event planning needs and a schedule for staff to travel and support the World Day events. As the programs started to roll out around the world, we tracked the number of each event’s participants in addition to receiving pictures and comments from event coordinators, hosts, and guests.

Tufts University has never before sponsored a coordinated programming effort such as Tufts World Day. As a university that prides itself on becoming more global, Tufts World Day served as one more way to inspire our alumni, parents, and friends to support the goals and objectives of our university today and in the coming years of our capital campaign.

Tufts World Day Objective and Type of Programs:
Goals included:

  • Get alumni around the world to recognize themselves as members of a larger community
  • Create increased engagement and recognition of present Tufts students in recognition of their relationship to a large community
  • Build awareness and momentum in preparation for capital campaign kick-off
  • Provide programming opportunities for regional chapters
  • Increase collaboration between TUAA regional chapters, Fletcher School regional clubs, and alumni groups of other professional schools
  • Increase the brand recognition of the Tufts name among all alumni from all schools
  • Provide opportunities to excite potential students about Tufts
  • Create positive exposure for the university
  • Alignment with major themes of the capital campaigns (Active Citizenship, Global Focus, Life Sciences)
  • Connect alumni to one another and strengthen alumni ties to the university
  • Provide admissions and advancement staff opportunities to cultivate donors and meet more prospects by assisting with event coordination and attending events
  • Increase collaboration between Tufts administrators, departments and schools.

A diverse menu of programs helped fulfill our mission for Tufts World Day. These included:

  • Admissions open houses
  • University speakers/receptions (some featuring our president and most respected faculty)
  • Parent Committee receptions
    • Junior Year Abroad functions (international chapters with Tufts undergrads abroad)
  • Alumni Career Service events with regional chapters
    • Regional chapter social events
  • Regional events with alumni speakers (e.g., EPIIC alumni in the field)
  • Regional chapter community service projects
  • Joint-sponsored Fletcher Club and regional chapter events

The Numbers – Participants and Costs:
Total number of living and addressable alumni in your constituency
There are 87,000 living alumni. Tufts University has biographical information on 50,000 of our alumni.

Primary Audience: Tufts World Day was designed to attract many constituencies. Primarily, we wanted to provide alumni from all schools a chance to participate in special events that were also open to parents of current students. Some of our programs were designed as admissions recruiting events which featured an admissions representative speaking to prospective students and alumni volunteers who participate in the Tufts Alumni Admissions Program (alumni volunteers interview candidates in their regions). Several of our events combined socializing with either an educational component (hearing about a faculty members research) to learning about different regional wines) or provided a backdrop to promote “Active Citizenship,” a hallmark of the Tufts University experience. One of largest events in New York City boasted a crowd over 300 who brought school supplies to donate to public schools.

Total Number of Participants: Tufts World Day attracted over 1,000 alumni, parents and friends from 26 domestic and nine international chapters. In addition to chapter-based programs, the university sponsored a luncheon in honor of the Consul General from India on campus on Monday, October 23, 2006. This luncheon marked our last Tufts World Day activity, focusing on our strengthening partnership between our university and India’s higher education environment.

Total number of volunteers involved: Each event required at least two volunteers to work with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Tufts World Day committee liaisons. Some events were hosted by alumni in their homes or places of business. Thirty-five events required 70 volunteers. When you add the number of Tufts World Day committee members, alumni relations, and other advancement division colleagues who staffed programs, and the other consultants who provided technical support for the Web site or filming the “Toast to Tufts”, we can count almost 100 volunteers who took an active role in the initiative.

Program Budget: $30,000


  • Web site design and maintenance (interactive site required regular management) – $5,000
  • Video and editing services (For Toast to Tufts): $10,000
  • Logo for magazine ad and winter 2007 edition story - $1,000.00
  • Printed postcard – sent to most domestic participating chapters in September, 2006 - $5,000
  • Event giveaways: Tufts World Day tote bags, cocktail napkins, and name tags: $5,000 (1,000 bags distributed to each participating chapter based on attendance numbers)
  • Tufts World Day Committee lunch meetings (approximately eight meetings) - $1,000.00
  • Miscellaneous travel costs for speakers - $3,000.00 (Note: staff travel costs were assumed by individual’s budgets)

Documenting Success: Tufts World Day was a resounding success. Thirty-five documented events occurred on the same day. All participating chapters recited the “Toast for Tufts”, with six chapters from San Francisco to Hong Kong captured on video. Some alumni, parents, and friends participated in their first regional event; the Office of Alumni Relations has experienced an increase in interest from both domestic and internationally-based alumni who want to start regional alumni chapters.

The resulting “Toast” was used for both and end of the year annual fund appeal and has been prominently featured in our major campaign launch kick-off events in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, DC, and Palm Beach. In March we will show the “Toast” in London; in June we end our events in San Francisco.

The annual fund wanted to offer potential donors a Tufts ‘experience’ that would be meaningful to them. The goal was to engage people first and foremost and then ask for a contribution to the Tufts Fund once we had their attention. The extended team brainstormed a number of great ideas. Ultimately, to ensure we were in market prior to the holiday crush, we decided to leverage the already filmed a “Toast to Tufts” video. One of our objectives was to reinforce the new Beyond Boundaries campaign so the “Toast” was a natural fit. The e-mail appeal was designed to drive potential donors to an online landing page where they can view the “Toast to Tufts” ( The copy on the landing page ties strongly to the Beyond Boundaries campaign and alludes to the impact a gift to the Tufts Fund can make for the university, and includes a prominent call-to-action to give.

Tufts’ $1.2 billion campaign has just entered its public phase. Tufts World Day now has a prominent role in our regional receptions as our president introduces the short video to audiences around the world, reiterating the symbolism of our international focus to our global constituencies.