Fraternity Recruitment Pitfalls

A new semester means a fresh start for every college fraternity. Most chapters use this time to plan and execute their recruitment strategy. Recruitment is one of the most important facets of fraternity life, as it drives new membership, promotes growth and increases revenues for the organization. Plus – who doesn’t like rush week?

Taking the time to craft an exciting and effect recruitment strategy can make or break your numbers and more importantly your reputation. Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure a fun and successful recruitment period for your fraternity.

Bad Advertising

I’ve seen this happen at campuses all over the country. Effective advertising is the cornerstone of your recruitment period. How do you expect prospective students to attend your recruitment events if you’re not properly advertising? Bad advertising includes: bland rush posters with limited information, placement in areas of campus with low student traffic and inappropriate branding that paints your fraternity in a negative light.

Here’s a few ways to avoid bad advertising:

  • Set up a small committee of 3-5 brothers in charge of advertising and promotions.
  • Approach any marketing/advertising/PR majors in your brotherhood to handle this task. If no majors are present seek the person most passionate about promoting the fraternity.
  • Sit down with the executive board and plan the recruitment strategy for the semester, then plan the advertising campaign around those goals.
  • Place advertising on campus that generates good foot traffic for prospective members, IE the quad, the gym, the cafeteria/eating hall, athletic facilities, etc.
  • Diversify your advertising. Make posters, tee-shirts, table in the student union, YouTube videos, Social Media engagement, etc.
  • Advertise at least 1-2 weeks before your recruitment begins.
  • Have your sister sorority or friendly student organization help you cross promote.

Poor Programming

Nothing kills a recruitment period more than poor programming. There is a ton of competition on your campus from other greek letter organizations warring for the same pool of prospective men. It’s important to be unique and stand out – but be careful. Events that are too extreme, IE too boring or too wild, can cause major damage to your fraternity reputation and affect your recruitment numbers. You need to create programming that’s competitive, fun and engaging while remaining within the rules and regulations of your national/international headquarters and your school’s office of greek life.

Here are some awesome event ideas for recruitment:

  • Wing night. Who doesn’t like wings and football?
  • Alumni night. Bring in a few area alumni to talk about their experiences in the fraternity.
  • Laser tag. Gear up and mix prospects with brothers on different teams.
  • Sports night. Take all the prospects out for a few games of basketball or touch football on campus.
  • Joint sorority event. Contact a sorority you’re in good standing with and plan a joint recruitment event like kickball or a BBQ.
  • Open info session. Have the prospects over the fraternity house and go through the history of the chapter, opening up to a Q&A session.
  • Formal rush. Plan a formal mixer at your house or off campus.

No Funding

The last thing you might think about at the end of a successful semester is the need to plan recruitment for the following term. Planning isn’t just about getting everyone together to have fun, it’s about making sure there’s enough money allotted in the chapter budget to properly fund the festivities. Depending on the size of your fraternity, the programming and length of rush, recruitment can become quite expensive.

To avoid financial meltdowns:

  • Have the treasurer and exec board propose a recruitment budget each year, to be voted and finalized by the chapter.
  • Contact alumni for funding assistance for special events and mixers demonstrating value to the fraternity.
  • Propose a local business to sponsor a fraternity event, IE a restaurant, bar, nightclub, etc.
  • Increase dues to cover recruitment costs.
  • Plan events at your house or on campus to reduce costs.
  • Invite another fraternity/sorority to join you on a larger event to subsidize costs.
  • Ask student government for a stipend allotment for recruitment expenses.

Low Chapter Morale

Whether your chapter size is 20 members or 200 members, low chapter morale can greatly affect the outcome of recruitment. When chapter participation is low and responsibility falls on two or three brother’s shoulders there’s room for error and creates a weak recruitment environment.

Eliminate low chapter morale during recruitment week:

  • Create a recruitment committee of brothers who are passionate about this particular facet of chapter business. Have them work closely with the promotions committee to ensure lots of visibility for the fraternity during the rush period.
  • Make attending a certain number of recruitment events mandatory to ensure chapter participation.
  • Survey the chapter to gain input on previous year’s recruitment efforts.
  • Develop fun programming that the brothers will enjoy as much as prospects.
  • Invite alumni to participate in recruitment events to bolster collegiate morale and incentivize brothers to participate.
  • Invite brothers from other chapters to attend and participate in recruitment to help spark energy within your own chapter.
  • Try new events and branch out of your chapter’s comfort zones.

Remember that you ultimately control the outcome of your recruitment period. Be smart, be productive, have a blast and most importantly show the prospective men on your campus why your fraternity is the only way to go.

– This answer was written by Nick Lagalante, a new contributor for the Nick Lagalante is a marketing consultant, speaker and alumnus brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity (Pi Mu, University of Tampa). He serves as PR director for the Tampa Bay Sinfonia Alumni Association and is the co-founder of the Building Better Men program, a business training platform designed to help collegiate fraternity chapters develop career skills and prepare for life outside of the chapter house. Connect with Nick on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @NickLagalante.

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To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on fraternity recruitment: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.

3 thoughts on “Fraternity Recruitment 101 – 4 Pitfalls to Avoid During Rush

  1. This was clearly written by someone who has the recruitment mindset of the 80’s. If a chapter thinks they will be successful by having awesome, expensive events that attract people by using cool flyers, then they should hope that no one comes. Anyone who would come to these for the flair is looking to join a fraternity for the wrong reasons. Those cool evens are not what being a member of the chapter is like.

    A better strategy that makes your organization more attractive to more men of higher quality is by establishing real relationships with men of high character that are already leaders. Targeting men who already live the values will decrease your expenses and increase your return.

    Of these four tips, I only agree with one. That is, about chapter morale.

    • You’re a genius! 

      I agree but the extra effort will get you a bigger pool in which you can funnel it down to a fewer but more quality members than the amount you would have without the marketing  and programming.

  2. Hello Nick,

    I find that I disagree with a few of your bulletpoints. Here are a few bulletpoints of my own.

    -The national Panhel organization has effectively banned member organizations from participating in fraternity rush events. This has forced many local sororities to refrain from advertising/participating with fraternities during rush, including the Panhel at my campus.

    -Depending on your campus, mileage may vary for event posters. We found it to be far better to hand out calendars and have conversations while we’re handing them out.
    -With regards to advertising, do whatever everyone else isn’t. At our campus, the black-and-white printout on neon-colored 8.5″x11″ paper used to be the norm. We decided to use smaller, glossy cardstock and print in color. If a rushee had a neat stack of rush calendars, we figured the smallest one would go on top. If it was shuffled into a drawer, he’d be more likely to fish ours out because of the cardstock. If it was posted on their wall, the full-color print would stand out more than black on neon paper.

    -Laser tag draws a lot of people, but retains almost none of them. They’re just going for free laser tag. Stuff like bowling is better because you have more chances to talk to rushees. You’ve been warned.
    -Sports night is the best one on this list. You get people who prefer to spend their free time actively.
    -Don’t be afraid to do something like Video Game night if it’s something your brothers like to do. Hopefully you can sort out the gamer deadbeats and the well-rounded guys.

    -Spend LESS. Find ways to turn rush less about which house spent the most money, and more about who meets and stays in contact with the most freshmen. Save those dodgeballs you bought last year. Don’t do a car bash/restaurant dinner/laser tag because they get you less for your money. Train yourself in alternative rush strategies. You’d do better sending more brothers to your national’s recruitment seminars than you would throwing money at the problem.

    -Required attendance kills morale. In most cases I’d say it’s still necessary, but it’s not a morale booster in the slightest. Guess what? A brother that doesn’t want to be there will act as if he doesn’t want to be there. He’ll be largely antisocial, and every rushee he interacts with will get a negative vibe from him. To combat this, I’d recommend making only a certain number of rush events mandatory, always making sure your brother-to-rushee ratio is good. Being able to pick his favorites should a brother’s bolster morale quite a bit.

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