I asked those on my email list the following question:
What is your single best piece of advice for a fraternity leader this summer?
Below is a compilation of the 50 best answers I received. Thanks to all those who responded.
Just because it’s summer time doesn’t mean your work stops. The summer affords the chapter an opportunity for some awesome planning and an opportunity to connect with incoming students. Before you break for the summer, put your members into planning teams for fall events and programs. Don’t over burden anyone, give each member one or two tasks. The great part about technology now is that the members don’t need to be physically together to meet face to face. Skype and Google Hangout now afford people the opportunity to meet together and plan out events. For those members who are on campus, you should take advantage of new student orientations in a good way. If your school offers multiple orientations over the summer, plan events with your members who stay on campus during the days of orientation. Many schools have rules against fraternity parties and socials during orientation, consider planning campus cleanups or other on-campus service events. Let new students and their parents know that there is more to fraternity life than just social events and parties. No matter what you do remember that summer is a break from school, not a break from fraternity. Have fun, be safe, but get work done.
Hold an Executive Retreat with incoming officers and preferably outgoing officers too
~Find out what worked and didn’t work in past semester
~transition outgoing officer stuff to incoming officer
~set goals for upcoming school year
~it gets everyone on the same page
Read deeply, but for pleasure.
Fraternity does not stop if school is not in session. There is plenty of work to do over the summer. If you do not prepare for the upcoming fall semester, you will not be as successful as if you had. Make sure you delegate responsibilities. Because of the amount of work to be done, and the fact that you yourself will be busy with other things this summer; make sure you delegate to other leaders in your Chapter. Too much on one person (just like during the school year) will result in burn out or just not getting stuff done. As a leader of your Chapter, you must look ahead and prepare your members for events in the future. Lead them and they will follow..
I would have to say the best piece of advice that I can give to a fraternity leader this summer is “Never take a day off. Find some way to better yourself and your fraternity each day.”
In today’s electronic age of text, email, skype, etc. The ex comm should have virtual meetings weekly. Have a plan before summer and planned outcomes for fall…
I would say my single best piece of advice would be “Look out for each other, like a brother, take care of one another.”
With that being said, I have to back that up with the fact that because many students are miles away from their families, they need to look out for one another…
Attending leadership conferences held by your national HQ or Greek life offices at your school is always important. Keeping track with orientation board on incoming student demographics and compiling a names list from them etc.
However most importantly, REST. You have worked hard all year long. The stresses from fraternity life, on top of school, relationships, work, etc is daunting. It is important for you to come back in the fall well rested, ready to kick off a new year. The last thing you want as a leader is to be burnt out coming into the most important time of the school year for many Greek campuses, as fall rush is critical to meeting goals.
Hope I can help make an impact in a Greek leader.
Stay in touch w/your fellow officers over the summer. In the “old days” we’d have to phone each other, but in today’s social media-based world it’s fairly easy to throw a text out to your VP, treasurer, etc. Ideally, it’s best to have a mid-summer retreat/get-together (often accomplished by attending a golf outing/camping trip/etc.).
Host a summer meeting to prepare for rush and other things that will happen early in the fall. Throw a party that night to increase attendance.
Greek relations! Message sororities and tell them you are excited for the upcoming year and ready for mixers. Plan some summer BBQ mixers or a beach day mixer.
Stay connected – and go VISIT one another (in small groups if possible) in one another’s hometowns, or places of summer employment. Definitely seek out those brothers working at the beach! It’s so great to meet parents, be introduced to siblings, meet in-town friends, and just get to know our brothers from a perspective outside of the host institution.
The single best piece if advice I could give over the summer is to stay in touch.
This been be done through staying in your college town, road trips, recruitment events, or simple mass email or Facebook correspondence.
Not only does this promote brotherhood, but there are things over three summer that need to be discussed and planned before fall semester.
Being in a fraternity does not stop when school is not in session. It is important to stay connected over summer.
The best piece of advise I can offer for a leader during the summer is to stay in touch when classes are not in session. This means contacting alum, stay in touch with your brothers/sisters, and ensure you know what is going on with campus life. It is also a good idea to structure some philanthropy/fundraising events.
As a fraternity leader myself elected for next year, the best advice I got and I will give to you to use is stay in contact with every member in your Greek organization. Try and have a social event sometime during the summer to get everyone together and bond over the times they have had during the summer because there is nothing like a nice bond fire or BBQ to strengthen the brotherhood or sisterhood before coming back to school.
My single best advice is that you can’t force bros or sisters what to do but you can create events were they feel excited and proud to be part of. The trick is to know how to fool them in doing things. If they are involve and have say on it, you already won them and got their support.
This may sound a bit obvious, but make a fall calendar now, and share it with the brothers. It will give them something to get excited about over the summer, and no one will question where their dues are going.
This is probably the easiest question I could get! The best piece of advice for summer – invest in your leadership by attending the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI). It would be the best five days ever spent.
The single most important thing for a Fraternity Leader to remember going into Summer, is to go through a process of self-examination.
Being taught by the Jesuits (an Order of priests in the Catholic Church) for most of my life, I have learned to examine my past actions in order to further my leadership potential. Often, after a busy school year, I let myself decompress for a couple weeks before I start making plans for the upcoming year. This time of rest allows me to examine my strengths and weaknesses not only on an individual level but also on the fraternity as a whole. By entering into this examination I can determine what worked well, what didn’t and so on and so forth. This is a great way to adequately and objectively evaluate in order to improve.
Start recruiting now and continue to do so throughout the summer. Nothing is cooler than being a kid about to head out to college and getting called or messaged by a current fraternity member telling them to rush. Figure out who knows incoming freshmen and figure out a way to get into contact with them. Beating the other fraternities to contact a potential member can really set your group apart and raise the likelihood of them wanting to be a part of your group. It shows that your fraternity is organized and also everyone likes someone who likes them first.
Also keep in contact with brothers. Maybe have a weekend getaway or trip. Or meet at someone’s place for a weekend. A central area that everyone could travel to. It gets boring during the summer if everyone is at home. Also if you keep in touch with those members who aren’t the most involved it will help them to be more likely to stay/return the next semester.
Be sure to keep in touch with your executive board. Have conversations via phone or Skype about the goals you want to meet in the upcoming semester. If there are things that you want your members to accomplish during the summer, make sure you are checking in with them on their progress.
If officers were elected at the end of spring, it’s always nice for the new officers to begin meeting under casual conditions to get accustomed to one another and build strong relationships with one another. Summer is definitely an important planning period for recruitment and the fall schedule.
One of the best advice I can give a fraternity leader is that if you are stepping, you have to really work with your brothers and have patience with them if they are not getting it as fast as you want them to.
As stepmaster I’m learning that now, some of my brothers were not getting part of a routine that we’ve been rehearsing. I patiently worked with them and they are doing a lot better now.
So, by having patience and continuing to work with them, encouraging them to do better, they will overcome those tough obstacles.
Attend a leadership development program, such as UIFI, in addition to your General Fraternity Convention.
The summers are the best time to plan, strategically. Prepare all the events, dates and projects for the upcoming semester or year. We typically develop new service activities, fundraisers and plan new recruiting tactics.
Don’t put the fraternity on the back burner but don’t get burnt out on the fraternity over the summer. Set goals to be done by certain days to make sure you are getting everything done and you are not just putting things off. Let me know if you need more clarification.
Every year we roadtrip and visit the brothers from the same chapter around the area, rent a beach house and hold 3-straight days of mixers with sororities around the area.
Empower you’re right hand guys. Let your VP, treasurer, rush chair, or proactive non-executives you need them next year. If I got anything done as president it was because of these guys. Let them know you need them, and pledge your time and resources to them.
Read your bylaws, both local and national. These give you a good framework to push your agenda.
Plan rush. We rushed in October and started planning in July. This still didn’t feel like enough time. There is no such thing as a too organized rush. Additionally, you will save money if you get orders for collateral in early and don’t pay premiums for expedited delivery.
I’m sure this is going to sounds similar to what a lot of others are saying, but the biggest thing is organization. Organization is the most important thing a president needs in order to have a successful year.
Think of ways to be different. And do little things that brothers will notice. Build (or buy for those less apt) a new table or something. Come back in the fall with social ideas that can show your group that being different can be very successful. I know that’s very “run of the mill” but it can make an impact.
A summer party is a great way if feasible. I’m at a state school so most brothers are 2 to 3 hours away from their homes so it’s easy to achieve. We usually have 2 or 3 summer BBQs and a party after everyone brings friends from home. Nice to meet your brothers’ friends from home (usually) shows you more of how they are at home away from school. Also we fix up the house, make changes, paint, clean the yard, talk to neighbors. You can have a good time with it. Also since most people sleep at the house after the party it gets more interesting than your average during the semester party.
Hopefully something out of this was helpful
Self-reflection. Take a moment to step back, breath, and reassess what you’ve done right or wrong up to that point. Think about it like a US President’s second term.
Also of course communications with your leaders & doers. Good time for an exec retreat.
Make especially sure your recruitment team is on the ball and actually talking to prospects possibly even doing events, not just waiting around for Fall rush.
We always did a brotherhood retreat mid-summer – in our case a huge river float – to sort of renew the bonds & reinvigorate everyone to start thinking about coming back strong.
Also, summer is a critically important time to be networking with alumni. In the non-profit world, from national fraternities to any other organization, board members are there as much for their judgment as their fundraising ability.
A chapter president is going to be able to connect with a lot of alumni that even the alumni chair isn’t. Press some hands. Get alumni to set up happy hour type things in major cities in your state & as president, go press some hands. Don’t ask for money necessarily, but build the foundation that’ll allow the alumni chair & others to do that when appropriate, or maybe just to get more alumni involved in the future. A president is usually nearing graduation, and as we all know on this side, networking is the most valuable thing you can have on your side.
I would have to say that you don’t want the chapter to leave its semester on a bad note. You don’t want grief & strife, things that deteriorate brotherhood, to just sit and fester over the summer. It’s going to make getting fall rush (if your chapter does it) and any other events you have planned for the beginning of the fall rather hellish.
Currently, I’m the president of a chapter in Texas. Going into the last few weeks of classes, especially since that’s the beginning of all of our officer’s terms, I made an effort to end meetings on good notes on brotherhood and concord. Just reminders of our ideals, our fraternal object, the meat and potatoes of why our fraternity exists. In our hectic lives at the end of the semester, it’s easy for brothers to forget, and the newly initiated may not have a full grasp of them yet.
Also, an end of semester retreat with copious amounts of food and beverages helps too!
The leader needs to concentrate on how to motivate the brothers to fund raise better and how to Rush new perspectives better.
Every leader should use the summer months to get ready for the upcoming semester or even year. Go to LeaderShape, got to UIFI, go to your National Conference! Meet people compare notes, start planning your big philanthropy now.
To many people use the summer months as a time to decompress and to veg. While it is good to relax and take a step back from the grind of being a fraternity leader, don’t spend the whole time on your coach watching Netflix.
Take a week to relax and then start to plan and prep, it doesn’t have to be anything big. It could be as simple as choosing a date for a recruitment cookout once school starts again.
Remember if you aren’t getting ready for the next semester a rival fraternity or sorority probably is, and now would be the perfect time to overtake you.
Nothing impacts a fraternity’s success more than rushing the right men. Period.
If you’re a President or Rush Chairman and you don’t have a plan for identifying the quality, incoming freshmen—and getting a jump on personally rushing and pledging them over the summer so that you’ll have your core pledge class come Fall—then you’re fraternity will continue to be mediocre.
Get the winners on board EARLY……before the lesser fraternities have their shot at them. It’s all about recruitment of the “most, best men”.
My advice (as an advisor)… Don’t stop working! The summer is a GREAT time to get ahead for the fraternity, meet with advisors, meet with alumni, and have some great brotherhoods!
Recruit and get the plans in order for the Fall recruitment period.
Here is my suggestion. Invite your Chapter Advisor or Board of Advisors to prepare a 3 sentence statement, request, notice, or other type of message each week or as needed to be read to the entire chapter at the chapter meeting.
This gets entered into the minutes and gives the BOA/CA a chance to make sure all members of the fraternity heard the same message.
The message can be about the house, an alumni notice, a change in school policy, some message from the Fraternity Headquarters, almost any topic and it helps keep the advisors and volunteers connected to the chapter.
The single best piece of advice I can give is that you need to plan a Summer Retreat or Summer Meeting. There’s no way you can map out all of your needs and plans for the fall by the end of the academic year. If possible, planning a summer retreat allows you to get your decision makers in the same place to set in motion the plans that will make a chapter successful come the start of the school year. We used these retreats to do the following:
– Adjust to transfers / lost members
– Create a detailed recruitment plan
– Work with advisors to set goals and make sure we are in compliance with any new HQ or University guidelines
– Reflect on summer HQ conferences (Phi Delt holds a leadership seminar every summer)
– Set chapter priorities and goals so as to hit the ground running
– Start the conversations about leadership transitions for the next wave of officers
– Enjoy some brotherhood and bonding time
Many chapters waste the summer and therefore use precious time at the start of the school year dealing with the above topics. High achieving chapters can start implementing plans right away instead of creating those plans. Every advantage helps, especially with recruiting. Take one day or two to enjoy the company of your brothers and to get some real work done.
I have a few critical things that should be maintained during the summer such as……..
Names List (running list of Pnm’s)
How much the fraternity has in savings and will that be enough for RUSH of Fall semester.
The Rush events PLANNED BEFORE the week before rush, to effectively advertise.
Continue brotherhood, Keep in touch with the new brothers and graduated”” seniors.
Keep in close contact with the treasurer, to manage funds properly, or create a budget with the money you are earning through the summer to pay nationals and for Rush, exc.
Update Bylaws, whether it mean small changes, or just emailing them out to every brother.
DONT STOP PLANNING EVENTS.
Think of creative new ideas to bring the brotherhood together, such as : Corn hole and Pool tournaments, Golf outings, camping outings.
MAKE ONE INVESTMENT WITH FRATERNITY FUNDS SUCH AS Tent, TV for chapter room, new Pledge manuals, RUSH SHIRTS for fall semester.
The single most important thing a fraternity leader can do throughout the summer is, keep close contact with the brotherhood, be conscientious of the budget and what you will NEED to have a successful beginning of the school year, and send out letters to Alumni (Telling them of upcoming events throughout the school year, and inviting them to tailgate, and or I-Night)
In my own chapter these key steps would make a HUGE difference, which is why I’m going to implement them.
My best piece of advice for a fraternity leader is to attend whatever your organization’s leadership events may be. In case of Delta Sigma Phi, Undergraduates have the opportunity to attend the Leadership Institute as well as participate with Alumni members, Staff members, and National level leaders at our 58th Biennial Convention in Phoenix, AZ.
Sharpen the saw: Do something for yourself to experience something new that will refresh you and allow you take a break from the day to day ups and downs of student leadership.
Attend a summer leadership program sponsored by your inter/national organization.
Attend the North American Interfraternity Conferences (NIC) Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) in Bloomington, Indiana at Indiana University. (More information at http://www.nicindy.org)
Read “Motivation the Middle” by: T.J. Sullivan. Takes less than two hours to read, and can be purchased on Amazon for $10.
Have an executive board and chairman retreat in mid to late July to get the ball rolling for the fall before it starts.
Focus on your own mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
One piece of advice I have off the top of my head is study the ritual. Summer is great time to get ritual proficient, no classes, no distractions.
Boost alumni relations and get ideas from guys that have done it all before. Often they provide good insight and ideas. Also make a calendar early to get everyone pumped for the new year and give them time to get off work and plan for events.
Make sure your brothers are safe, never let them drive drunk
My biggest piece would be don’t make your plans alone. Coming back with a master plan for how to fix the chapter will likely just lead to apathy as members had no say or stake in creating it.
Keep in touch with his brothers. Have him be the communicator and inform them of what’s happening.
Set the calendar before school starts so that everyone already knows expectations of what the fall is going to be like. It also helps with planning and figuring out what is realistic and what isn’t.
I’ll give it a shot, I think you’re more the expert on this but why not. The most important thing for a fraternity to do is lay out the foundation for the incoming fall semester. Holding meetings during the summer can set the tone for the incoming semester as well as being able to accomplish things like, refurbish the fraternity house, get in touch with alumni for support, work with the Greek Life to put your fraternity ahead of the rest with school events, philanthropy and rush. Creating lists of possible friends, classmates, can create possible leads for fall before rush even happens. Plus the brothers that stay in school during summer are going to want to go on trips, hold events and parties which could boost the funds of the chapter.
– Take a few weeks away to recharge your batteries.
– Rush hard. Identify and reach out to potential targets before they step foot on campus.
– Attend your fraternity’s leadership convention. This is one of the greatest things about being in a national fraternity. It is a shame so few brothers take advantage of it. It is worth the couple hundred bucks – trust me.
– Learn. Talk to people about fraternity and steal their best ideas. Read books on leadership and fraternity (or get both in my book – The Fraternity Leader). And be sure to keep a notebook of all these ideas. Implement the very best ones when you get back to campus and have the best year yet.