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My fraternity consistently has struggled the past two years to initiate a high percentage of the men we recruit. Typically, we recruit around 20 men, but initiate somewhere around 12-14.
The chapter is solid on all other fronts and in line to win our fraternity’s highest award, but the retention rate seems to be the Achilles heel of the chapter keeping us from initiating more great men and getting the recognition we deserve.
We’ve worked with our nationals, consultants and other chapters to develop a great Pledge Education program, but can’t seem to fix this nagging problem. Any suggestions?
The retention rate during pledgeship is a universal problem shared by many fraternities across the globe. Most of the time it is a pledge education issue, but based on your question, it seems as though you have done your due diligence in creating the best program possible.
I have two suggestions that may help. The first deals with your fraternity values. Does your pledge education program stress the values of your fraternity? I’ve seen many pledge programs that go through the motions of learning about the history of their fraternity, but they don’t encompass the true cornerstones why the Founders started the organization. Each event during pledgeship must have a purpose that relates to learning about values.
Secondly, maybe your pledge education program isn’t the problem. I would suggest you take a step back and look at your recruitment process. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
What type of events are you planning?
What type of men are you attracting to those events?
How are you selecting the men that you offer bids?
In my experience, the retention rate during pledgeship is either due to a risk management or fraternity recruitment issue. Recruitment is the lifeblood of the fraternity and it’s the first step to learning about potential new members and whether their values match up with those of the fraternity.
If you were able to ensure that you have a comprehensive recruitment process which results in the best men for your organization, I would expect your retention rate to rise.
This answer was written by Steven Kaplan, an alumni brother from Alpha Epsilon Pi and contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!
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