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Question: My Fraternity is mainly run by 15 guys who seem to be constantly trying to get the rest of the chapter to get involved. We currently have 65 actives and 46 new members. Our goal at this point is to use the new member education process to ensure the new members don’t fall into the “dead-weight” category. What suggestions do you have to combat the lethargy in the actives?
Answer: This situation happens in just about every fraternity. A portion of the brothers are irresponsible, so a small core group of brothers does all the work. As a result, the other brothers become disinterested and harder to motivate. Of course, this leads to a vicious cycle where the core group takes on more and more responsibility which pushes the deadbeat brother further and further away….
Here are 8 ways you can get fraternity members more involved
1) Give away responsibility. If the other brothers have ownership in the planning and success of events, they will become more involved.
2) Plan activities the brothers want to do. It is much easier to get fraternity members more involved by doing what they want to do as opposed to being forced to do something. Align the activities of the chapter with the desires of the brotherhood.
3) Be positive with the brothers who are involved. Reinforce this good behavior.
4) Be exceptional. If your events are a ton of fun and really quality, then all the brothers will want to become involved.
5) Avoid over-programming. There are only so many hours in the day and week. Brothers have girlfriends, jobs, other student orgs and class. Over-programming can make the fraternity feel like a job. Avoid this at all costs.
6) Eliminate dead wood. If you have brothers who are not active brothers contributing to the mission of the fraternity, then cut them.
7) Force the leadership to reach out. The core group of brothers have to make it a point to get the others involved. They need to take it upon themselves to invite others to be part of the planning. They also need to invite the others to just hang out. If these brotherhood bonds become closer, then the level of involvement will increase with these brothers.
8) Set expectations. What does it mean to be a brother in your chapter? Are you expected to attend X functions per month? What are the ramifications if you don’t meet that objective? Being very clear with your expectations should be welcome by all brothers.
These tips should help you get started. I think your strategy of getting the new members to buy into this mindset is smart. Remember to bring them up in a chapter that recognizes exceptional brothers and doesn’t dwell on the brothers who are not cutting it. Always remain positive.
On the positive side, you have a lot of great things happening with your fraternity. You have strong membership and especially strong recruitment numbers. With good leadership, you can accomplish fantastic things. Hopefully the above helps, but if you need more leadership advice be sure to check out my book The Fraternity Leader.