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