Congratulations! You’re a Head Agent!
Now, what are you supposed to be doing, exactly?
Head Agents are responsible for the management of their class’s efforts each year. Your three main responsibilities are to:
- Set (and achieve!) your annual class goals in terms of total dollars raised and participation.
- Orchestrate class-wide letters/emails.
- Manage your team of Associate Agents who make all class contacts and ask for gifts from classmates.
Being a Head Agent is, essentially, a management role. Your job is to set the pace and keep everyone on the agent team trucking to meet the class goals by March 15. (Gifts received through June 30 count towards the year-end total.)
Most head agents commit to a five-year term, though some stay on for multiple consecutive terms. If you find you have to bow out early, do the right thing and help line up your successor.
Class goals are set in consultation with your Alumni Fund Development Officer. Typically, classes aim for a 6-8% increase year over year in terms of dollars raised; across all classes, participation goals are typically 55%-80% of the class. (Williams sets a high bar, with over 60% of living alumni making a gift to the Alumni Fund in most years.)
Motivating 500+ peers to do anything is a daunting task. Here are some tips to make your life a little easier.
- Focus on engagement
Focus first on forging and deepening your classmates’ connection to the College, as a gift to Williams is a tangible sign of that connection. Send friendly messages to classmates with Williams updates, or work with your Class President and Secretary to make sure the class is kept informed of what’s happening on campus and what’s going on within your class, wherever you may be.
Write three or more all-class missives, typically in October/November (Mountain Day and Homecoming are great reasons to write!), December, and January/February. You’ll want to consider sending different letters or emails to different sub-groups, such as LYBUNTs, SYBUNTs, and never-givers, with different messaging.
- Reasons to give
People give for lots of reasons, so offer lots of them–see Your Gift Matters for some examples.
Every donor should feel appreciated, no matter the size of the gift. Own this responsibility, even if your Associate Agents also send thank-you notes to folks on their lists. Good thank-you notes not only cement relationships, but they allow you a forum to ask for life updates and deepen engagement with classmates.
Agent Team Management
- Group communication
Over-communicate to agents as a group, using the agent listserv for your class. From November through January, send an email every 7-10 days with an update on your class performance, based on the results you see on your online reports. These group messages sent via the listserv are also a great venue to publicly recognize and thank individual agents for the work they do.
- Individual communication
Send individual agents their lists and ask them to focus on certain parts of it at specific times of the year. Learn which agents will need more personal attention, and provide them with information—spoonfeed as needed.
Treat your agents as you want them to treat people on their lists—call, email, engage, ask, thank. In effect, you are the model for how you want your agents to act towards their assignments.
- Lead the LYBUNT charge
Focus your class’s February efforts on reaching out to a small group of LYBUNTs and loyal SYBUNTs on a daily basis. As Head Agent, it’s up to you to set up a system for distributing the names of those folks the agent team needs to contact, as well as a mechanism for tracking who has already been contacted and what new gifts have come in. (The folks in the Alumni Fund office can help you here!)
Focus on working with the agent team to get the class to 50% of anything: agents who have given by December, LYBUNTs who have given by January, full class participation by February. It’s powerful when you can say 50% of whatever group you are targeting has given. Make these 50% goals public to your agents so everyone understands the milestones you hope to achieve together.
- Class coverage
Ensure everyone in the class is assigned to an agent s/he knows. Recruit new agents every couple of years to maintain depth and breadth. (Not sure how to recruit new Associate Agents? Look to have one or two from every first year entry, every varsity sport, every a cappella group, etc. Track classmates’ consecutive giving, ask your Alumni Fund Development Officer for your class’s engagement scores, and look to social media for which classmates are doing independent fundraising for other non-profits.) Most Associate Agents need only commit a couple of hours in total (depending on the number of classmates assigned to them), but really great conversations with classmates can extend the time commitment.
- Agents’ lists
At the end of the fund, work with your agents to refine their lists for the following year, and take this time to recruit new agents if needed. Do it now, while the information is fresh, rather than waiting until the fall.