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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 was recently elected to the position of fraternity president of a local fraternity. My fraternity is fairly young, though due to virtue of transfer students, we happen to have brothers at other schools around the country. I believe that we are at a critical point in our fraternity’s life, in which the contemplation to become national is here.

I contacted the NIC (North American Interfraternity Conference), but I have yet to receive any advice back from them about how to approach going national. I believe that this is a necessary step to move a great organization to a greater level.

So the question is, what options do I have to go national? What can I do to move forward?


Answer:

I wrote an article a few months ago titled How to Start a Fraternity. It is one of the most popular articles on the site and will help answer a lot of your questions.

If I were in your shoes, I would research and find out which national fraternity is the best fit for your brotherhood. For example, it wouldn’t make much sense for you guys to join a Christian fraternity if most of the brothers are Jewish or vice-versa. You can find all the information you need on the homepages of all national fraternities.

Then, determine which national fraternities are a good fit for your local fraternity. Send those fraternities an email and explain your situation. Your local fraternity will be very attractive to a national fraternity because you aren’t starting from scratch. You already know what fraternity life is all about.

Things should progress pretty quickly from there. Chances are you will have a colonization period once you decide to join the national fraternity. That will serve as a probationary period to determine if your chapter is a good fit.

If all goes well, your local fraternity will become a chapter of the national fraternity during a chartering ceremony.

Good luck!






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13 thoughts on “How Does a Local Fraternity go National?

  1. The umbrella organization mentioned above is probably the National American Greek Council (NAGC), established in 2004 and headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y. According to Wikipedia, it has 12 member organizations — 8 sororities and 4 fraternities. Most, if not all, appear to be African-American or multicultural in nature.

  2. This website has helped me a lot. I founded a national college chapter and am helping national expand even more. I have friends who are in Alpha Phi Delta good group of men. I am interested in how they went about merging with your chapter because that is one thing our national is looking to do. What besides keeping your local name as say the chapter name would you want from the national?

    Fraternally
    Pat McGowan
    OGD XA’11

  3. I understand – and completely agree with you. Any rational person would realize that it is a sacrifice to change your letters. By allowing you to keep your chapter designation you are able to honor your past but remain committed to your future.

    I know my fraternity does it this way in the instances where we have taken in a local fraternity.

    I would continue to talk to the powers that be and try to get them to see the light. Also, I misunderstood your original comment. You are to start the process as a colony this weekend, not a being chartered. Since it is so early in the process, you might have a little more leverage than you realize.

    Please continue to keep me in the loop on the situation. You have peaked my curiosity.

  4. See I wasn’t intending to wear my previous letters. I just wanted the colony represented as Delta Psi Omega (my original fraternity). We would obviously wear only Alpha Phi Delta.

    But the concern I have, as well as many older alumni is that somewhere down the road Delta would be forgotten. For the first few years it will be remembered. But come 15 years from now, come 30 years from now, our 15 years would be very insignificant, almost forgotten.

    It was just make things, so much better and easier if it was just noted somewhere that Delta Psi Omega started this Chapter.

    I already wrote up an amendment with a compelling argument saying more successful local fraternities would merge with Alpha Phi Delta if given that privilege. My concern is that even if my voice is heard, they wouldn’t want to change the alphabetical structure they have of naming the chapters. It seems like such a minor detail, but it would make sense that they would want it organized and not all over the place. I’m trying to wrap my brain around thinking if there was some way of being able to name your chapter, while keeping an organizational structure. Because I don’t think they would be content of having it just in chronological order.

    Well…I’ll think of something, but thank you for the advice.

  5. I am a member of a local chapter that has been on our campus for 20 years and we have had to fight to stay alive because the 3 national fraternitys don’t want us here. The thing is we only get a few new members each year and most wouldn’t have been apart of another anyway. We have a long history and tradition and we don’t want to lose that but we have been pushed around here in the last few years and we don’t really compete with the others for member because we have different demographics. We also have looked at national fraternitys and have not found any that have similar beliefs and traditions. If there are locals trying to umbrella then we would like info on that please.

  6. Typically, you do not have voting privileges with the national fraternity as a colony. This means you will not be able to propose or amend their constitution. However, you could have someone who does have voting rights to represent your interests.

    That being said, you are joining a fraternity by becoming a colony. Wearing letters of another fraternity signifies that you are part of another fraternity. This is almost like if someone from the Raiders is picked up as a free agent by the Chargers but asks if he can continue to wear his Raiders jersey. Of course not, that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

    My suggestion – remember that fraternity is about the men you form bonds with, not the letters on your chest. You will have a much richer experience being part of a national fraternity, and this decision will help ensure the longevity of your chapter.

    While it will be awkward to wear the new letters for a while, eventually your brothers will be proud of them. They will always remember the rich history of your local fraternity. I don’t really think this is a battle you are going to win, and I’m not even sure it is a battle worth fighting.

  7. I tried posting my real question on the homepage but i don’t see it anywhere. My comment about the umbrella groups was out of curiosity. But my question does relate to this thread.

    Here’s my situation. I’m in a local fraternity that has 15 years of history, recently we’ve been looking into nationals and actually found one that suits us. Alpha Phi Delta. The fraternity is great, it’s ultimately the best decision we could make and we’ve actually begun and are almost finished with our “pledging process” which is pretty much learning about the new fraternity. Sunday is our last day, and after that we will become a Colony of Alpha Phi Delta. We have about 60 or 70 brothers making the transition.

    After this waiting period as a Colony, they said we will most likely become the epsilon delta chapter, because those were the next letters on the list. They said we can’t choose our original fraternity letters to represent our chapter.

    My question is, if I presented a case trying to make it as beneficial as possible to Alpha Phi Delta, do you think there’s anyway we could amend the national constitution?

    Many of my brothers are saying that it would probably be impossible. But I’m not content with just accepting no, I would like to try to fight for this. If i follow through with this I know it will be monumental for my alpha phi delta, and my colony.

    How would I go about this? What obstacles lay ahead of me? And do you think I could pull this off? And would it affect my case, that I’m a recent alumni and no longer an active undergrad?

  8. Brian – I do not know of any umbrella groups. Trying to research it now. If you or anyone knows anything about them – please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Pat

  9. would i be able to get information on that as well? I’ve never heard of the locals being able to go national and keep their letters and history

  10. About that umbrella group, my fraternity would definitly be interested in joining/helping out with that any contact information on that?

  11. Local organizations have been evolving for years. Unfortunately those who wish to go nationals are limited due to the resources needed. There are organizations in the east coast getting together now to try and create a national umbrella for local organizations that will allow the organizations to keep their history and their letters. But this is still a work in progress to my knowledge.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years local organizations will have the chance to keep their letters as well as expand around the country.

  12. I highly advise any local to follow the advice above and affiliate with a national. Locals rarely have the resources or institutional knowledge to deal with major situations. Any fraternity needs an a strong experienced headquarters staff, an accountant, general counsel, team of lawyers on retainer, 10-20mil in liability coverage for all members, and a local advisory and oversight board. Without at least those tools, it takes one bad situation to make the whole thing go away & screw up several lives in the process.

    I reread this question a couple times. I’m not sure, but the transfer brothers at other schools makes me think he’s asking how to turn his local into a new national. That’s a bad idea.

    There’s 75 fraternities in NIC and a couple others outside, most with more than a century of history and tradition. All come with the resources I listed, plus a vast network of experienced alumni that can help at the college level and beyond. One of those is a good fit for any group.

    However, if one wanted to start a new national, the way to do that would be to start 15-20 chapters around the country and have 30+ years of maturity/resources. You need a ton of money for a national, and that means a whole lot of older alumni with high disposable income that you’ve kept actively committed and involved decades after school. There’s a reason people don’t try to found new national fraternities from scratch. Affiliate with an existing national.

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