By Marcia Brod, a member of the Rotary Club of Miami
Ever think of finding 600+ needles in a haystack? The idea intrigued me and so I began the “reconnect” project in 2010 for the Rotary Club of Miami.
The Rotary Club of Miami awards scholarships to local high school graduates who are now attending medical school through the Thomas Brown McClelland Trust. The Trust was set up through an endowment established by Miami Rotarian Thomas Brown McClelland upon his passing in the early 1980s. It has since awarded over $6 million in scholarships. But no effort was ever made to reach out to former recipients to track their successes and explore opportunities within the network. Hoping to track the impact, I took on the task.
The magic of the Internet
I found a list of scholarship recipients and decided to see what magic the Internet could conjure up! While it was time consuming, I knew that all the recipients were now doctors, which helped. Armed with their name, medical school attended, and graduation date, I was able to find more current contact information.
I tackled the list of contacts in small batches. An introductory letter was sent, along with a survey. It was rewarding to discover their many accomplishments and how significant the scholarship awards had been in building their career. Once contact information for all alumni had been collected, a newsletter was created to connect the community. Now, twice a year, the newsletter is sent to everyone and includes alumni updates and information about current award recipients.
The effort gave birth to a Thomas Brown McClelland Trust family and I am so thrilled to be a driving force behind it. As a bonus, over $28,000 has been contributed back to the Trust by former recipients seeking to support those following in their footsteps. The search for those 600+ needles was certainly worth the time and effort.
Editors note: You or your club could use a similar approach to connect to alumni of any program. Each year, thousands of people participate in Rotary programs including Interact, Rotaract, Rotary Youth Exchange, Rotary Peace Fellowships, and Rotary Scholarships. Read about the advantages of connecting to alumni and find more resources about alumni.