Fraternity Founding Father

This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.

Speaking from personal experience, being a Founding Father of your fraternity is a truly special experience. How often can someone say they had a hand in shaping something that could potentially last 50, 100, maybe 150 years? It’s an incredible position of leadership and should not be taken for granted. It is also not an easy position to be in, by any means. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in order to start steering your chapter towards a healthy, sustainable future. With that being said, here a few things to keep in mind as you and your new brothers begin the experience of a lifetime:


1. Rome wasn’t built in a day

I know – cliche. But it’s true. Wanting to be the best fraternity on campus is quickly as possible is an awesome goal. Don’t ever stop striving to reach it. Most importantly, don’t ever let your current and future brothers stop striving for that goal. Just know that it is going to take some time. There is going to be a lot of trial and error in your infancy, but every mis-step is an opportunity to improve something the next time you do it. Perhaps the most important thing you all need to do is give yourselves credit when something goes well. If you master a certain process or hold a certain event well, realize that future brothers of your chapter that have not even been born yet could one day be holding that same event!

2. Find a balance of work and brotherhood

This may seem obvious, but it is crucially important. At times, the amount of work that needs to be done to create a well-oiled machine of a chapter is going to be daunting. Do not let the stress overwhelm you. Reach out to your brothers to empower them and truly make it a chapter effort. Once the work is getting done, make sure everyone takes time to enjoy the unique brotherhood that comes along with a fraternal experience. Provide opportunities to get to know each other on a deeper level (“bro” dates, knee-to-knee activities, etc.) – after all, some of your new brothers are going to be some of your closest friends for the rest of your life.

3. Utilize your advisors!

There are probably resources available to you from your national headquarters of your organization (staff members, templates for governing documents, recruitment materials, etc) which you should absolutely take advantage of. Some of the important resources available for you to utilize, though, are right there on your campus in the form of advisors. You will likely need some representative from your institution to serve as a faculty/staff advisor. You may even have other advisors (my chapter’s advisory board has approximately 10 advisors). I cannot stress the importance of involving your advisors. We, as students, do not have all of the answers. Our advisors do not necessarily always have the answers, either. Together you can all work together and draw from your collective experiences to be able to work through your young chapter’s issues with ease!

4. Learn to navigate the policies and procedures of your institution

As a new organization on your campus, there are undoubtedly a whole host of rules and regulations regarding campus events, contracts, etc. It is extremely important that your chapter familiarize themselves with these. You are going to want to hold events, be it a social event, recruitment event, speaker/program, etc. Start your chapter off on the right foot and make sure your actions are in line with your institution’s policies. Not only does it establish a tradition of doing the right thing, but it will contribute to a culture in your chapter that will want good men to join your ranks. If you are having trouble locating these procedures, it is a great opportunity to work with your chapter’s advisors!

In terms of chapter operations, one recommendation I have is to ALWAYS be planning a semester in advance. Though this is a difficult place to get to, it will pay off in the end. With large-scale programming, unexpected things will come up and you do not want to put your chapter in a position where all of their work was for naught. Further, it allows the chapter to always be thinking about the future and what work is going to need to be done.

5. Remember the Five Year Rule

This journey is going to be full of great times, brotherhood and, unfortunately, difficult decisions. Enjoy the former and use this strategy when dealing with the latter: what impact will this have in 5 years? In 5 years, the founding fathers are going to have all graduated. The chapter from that point on will be run and populated by the men you recruit. The decisions you are making now have a strong correlation with the chapter that the men of your institution are going to see in 2017. You have expressed the desire to be the best fraternity on campus. I obviously could not speak to what that would look like on your campus, though I would challenge you to examine what that would look like. Constantly considering how your decisions in the present will affect the chapter in the future is a very wise strategy to adopt at this point and will help you make more informed decisions.

Cherish this experience. Learn from this experience. Do not lose faith or your dedication if things do not go exactly as you plan. Chances are that they won’t, and that is okay. At the end of the day, it’s about your brotherhood. Draw from your collective experiences, utilize each other’s strengths, and above all, always treat each other with respect. That is what your organization’s founders would have wanted, isn’t it?

This answer was written by Matt Crimmins, a brother from Beta Theta Pi and new contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!

This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.






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2 thoughts on “5 Things to Realize as a Fraternity Founding Father

  1. Man, I wish I had seen this last year. My friends and I started a chapter at our school and this advice would’ve been helpful. Luckily, we got our charter last semester, and, luckily, a lot of this advice still applies. Thanks for the article!

  2. Matt – great insight and glad to have you on board. Really like the advice about always striving for perfection. If you are going to set goals, they may as well be high. Also like the planning ahead advice. No top-tier fraternity ‘wings it’ every semester….

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