Advice for developing a local alumni network's guiding principles

Below is our step-by-step advice to developing the Guiding Principles, also referred to as a constitution or charters, for your local alumni network.

Step One - Getting Ready

  • Identify specific issues or choices that the planning process should address
  • Clarify roles (who does what in the process)
  • Create a Planning Committee (this could be a subgroup or the entirety of the network’s coordinating team or board)
  • Develop the network’s membership criteria
  • Identify the information that must be collected to help make sound decisions

Step Two - Articulating Mission and Vision

A mission must communicate the essence of the network. A mission statement typically describes an organization in terms of its:

  • Purpose - why the network exists, and what it seeks to accomplish
  • Business - the main method or activity through which the network tries to fulfil this purpose
  • Values - the principles or beliefs that guide the network's members in pursuit of the network’s purpose

Step Three – Identifying key stakeholders

There are a number of approaches for conducting stakeholder analysis or mapping, as part of identifying which individuals and organisations your network may want to engage with as part of fulfilling its mission. A quick google search will come up with a myriad of templates and frameworks, but it can be kept simple and contained as a discussion amongst your group – perhaps by opening up for input from the wider membership if required.

Besides the obvious group of network members and fellow Danida/Denmark alumni, the types of stakeholders you may want to consider when drafting your alumni network’s guiding principles may include:

Danish stakeholders in your country:

  • The Danish Embassy or other Danish government missions
  • Danish or Nordic Chambers of Commerce
  • Danish businesses, NGOs and other privately governed entities operating in your country
  • Danes living (studying or working) in your country

National and local stakeholders:

  • Local and national partner organisations of current and former Danida Programmes or of Denmark’s Strategic Sector Cooperation Programmes in your country
  • Sustainable Development specialists, such as the Board of the United Nations Association in your country
  • Institutions of higher education and training
  • Research institutions
  • Other alumni networks (e.g. other local Nordic alumni networks, national alumni chapters of Danish universities)
  • Denmark alumni (if you are a Danida alumni network)

Note that there is no obligation for you to incorporate any or all of the above listed stakeholders in your network’s guiding principles. There may also be other groups that are more relevant to your context and membership.

Step Four - Developing operating principles

You will need to address some of the key day-to-day considerations for network management and operations. This may include, but is not necessarily be limited to:

  • Process for member recruitment and registration
  • Process for developing and agreeing annual activity plans for the network
  • Communications guidelines and platforms (this may include reference to network branding if this is something group wishes to develop. Take a look at DFC’s guidelines for communications here)
  • Liaison with key stakeholders, such as the embassy (e.g. perhaps agreeing some guidelines for how and when this should be done)
  • Roles and responsibilities within the local network’s coordinating team/board
  • Frequency, procedures and perhaps a template agenda for coordinating group/board meetings
  • Procedures for annual meetings/annual general meetings, including procedures for conducting elections of the coordinating group/board.

Step Five - Completing the written plan

This step essentially involves putting all the above points down on paper! In doing so, make sure that you keep language and terminology as simple as possible, so that there can be no confusion or misunderstandings when the next coordinating group/board takes over the helm of the alumni network.