get your fraternity out of a rut

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.

Question:

I am a Brother in a relatively small (compared to other chapters on campus) fraternity. I’m sure you can relate since you built your fraternity from the ground up.


We are having some major recruitment problems. Our winter and spring rushes yielded only one new member with very few others coming to our events at all. We are also having major brotherhood and commitment problems. Basically, we are being run more like a business and less like the fraternity that we all want to be. Could you provide some possible fixes and better recruitment practices and also some ways to improve brotherhood among all members?

Answer:

If you really diagnose your problem, you will probably find that the problem is with the health of the fraternity.  The issues you are having with recruiting are just a by-product of these issues.

You said it yourself, your fraternity has become more of a business than a brotherhood.  While running a fraternity like a business is incredibly important, without the brotherhood it really doesn’t matter.

Here are 6 things I’d do right now to get out of your rut:

1) Have a retreat to discuss what the fraternity really wants to do.  This doesn’t have to be a hold-your-hands around a campfire affair.  It can simply be an afternoon set aside where the brothers talk about what they want to do.  Find a few ideas that the brothers are really excited about, and then focus on them. The excitement and anticipation of these plans will motivate the entire chapter.

2) Be the start of the solution.  If your fraternity isn’t healthy, then the brothers probably aren’t having much fun together.  You can change that.  When you do something fun, invite a brother to go along with you.  When you go to dinner, invite another brother to go.  When you are taking your girlfriend to the movies, invite another brother to bring his and make it a double date.  The point here is you need to develop these friendships and not take them for granted.  Eventually other brothers will see what you are doing and start doing the same thing.  Before long you’ll have a chapter that does things together and is close because of it.

3) Eliminate the suck.  If things suck – don’t do them.  If you are doing things that the brotherhood hates, that will drain their energy and get your fraternity in a rut.  If your fraternity hates soccer, then don’t force guys to make an intramural team.  If you fraternity doesn’t like community service project X, then do community service project Y that is a lot more fun.  Don’t make fraternity a drag.  When you do the brothers will stop coming around.

4) Learn to recruit!  If you aren’t even getting guys to come to your events it seems pretty obvious that you don’t really know what you are doing.  Some good resources are fraternity recruitment and 5 Fraternity Recruitment Tips for any Chapter.  Also, don’t forget my book The Fraternity Leader where I lay out a complete recruitment program which explains everything you need to know to be successful during rush.

5) Clean House.  It is hard to get rid of your dead weight in your fraternity.  However, if your fraternity refuses to grow, it is probably because there are some guys holding you back.  It could be the brother who never pays his dues or the brother who is an embarrassment at fraternity functions.  Remove these cancers from your fraternity and you will be better for it.  Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward.

6) You, as a leader, need to embrace the struggle.  I know things are challenging now.  I know you can’t imagine the days when your fraternity is tops on campus.  You can get there though if you embrace the challenge with a superior attitude.  Be positive, and cherish this opportunity you have.  You are going to turn a crap fraternity into a great one.

Learn what you need to do to make your fraternity better.  Try new things, make mistakes.  GROW!  I promise you it will be an adventure you cherish forever.  This tremendous opportunity will serve you well your entire life.

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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