This article is Day 22 of the series: 31 Days to Better Fraternity Recruitment.
We know that groups need to reevaluate their fraternity recruitment strategies for two reasons: numbers aren’t what they want or need it to be, or they’ve ever looked at a member of their chapter and thought, “Oops!” Sadly, we all have one or two oops members whose very existence endangers the future of the chapter. Instead of looking at those oops members as simply a fact of life- here’s an idea: stop recruiting them!
The cool thing about recruitment is that you can fix any problem in your chapter by recruiting the solution. Underperforming Academically? Start recruiting people with better GPAs or faculty letters of recommendation. Suffering from apathy? Only admit students who have a proven history of organizational leadership. Risk management issues? Share your chapter’s membership expectations and only admit students who already follow them!
Students are afraid of the quality conversation because they see quality and quantity as mutually exclusive ideas. How can you get numbers and still recruit the best and brightest? First, you need to clearly understand your target market. What type of man or women fits your organization’s mission and values? What do they believe in? How do they demonstrate their values? Sororities and fraternities need to stop focusing on the notion that everyone should want to be a part of their chapter and instead emphasize that the students who align with our values will want to join our organizations.
So how do we find these high quality members? The first step is to stop admitting people who don’t align with our values. Period. Create a set of measurable membership eligibility standards that clearly define your chapter’s values. And then create a plan that will slowly increase those standards over the course of the next 3-5 years so that by the time you graduate it will have been difficult for even you to get in. Yes, you will face resistance to this idea from your current members! It is up to you to demonstrate why it is in their best interest to bring in more and better members. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to come back for alumni weekend in 5, 10, 50 years and see a thriving chapter? These criteria do not have to apply to the current chapter membership – there is a difference between eligibility standards and membership standards.
Here are some membership eligibility criteria we have seen, so pick and choose the criteria that best fit your chapter and its values:
- GPA requirement
- Involvement in an academic organization
- Letter of recommendation from a faculty member, academic advisor, resident advisor, campus administrator
- Involvement in a student organization (high school, college, held a leadership role)
- Involvement in a civic engagement organization
- Completion of community service hours
- Demonstration of a good work ethic
- Involvement in intramurals or athletics
- Membership in special interest organizations: religious, major-based, musical, etc.
- Participation in campus activities
- Demonstration of good character
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to get creative. We recommend that you select between 4 and 8 criteria on which to assess recruits and then don’t waiver on that criteria. But what about your friend who would be a great member, but doesn’t meet the requirements? No, don’t compromise your organization’s values in order to give that person a bid. Instead, place them on a chapter mentorship program during which you’ll work with that person over the course of the semester to help them meet your standards. He or she will spend time experiencing the reality of your organization and you will be helping that person to improve! If this individual agrees to your mentorship program he or she is demonstrating a keen interest and commitment to your organization.
The other key component to increasing the quality of our recruits is to start looking in new areas! Generally we see chapters only recruiting the people who come knocking on our doors, or the “always joiners.” Yes, always joiners can be amazing members, but they sometimes join because they like the Greek stereotypes- they want to party, socialize and hook up. Let’s actually recruit and go to the people who would enhance our organization. Seek out referrals from non-Greek organizations of individuals they know who meet your values and standards. Talk to faculty members, resident advisors, administrators, athletics, service originations, etc. and ask for their input.
Another great tactic is to simply co-host programming with non-Greek organizations. Think of those campus groups whose values align with your chapter’s; partner with them, get to know their members. This not only actively demonstrates the reality of your chapter and its values, but allows you to meet recruits on their turf. A good rule of thumb is that a maximum of 50% of your recruitment activities should be in the chapter house or common area you identify as “your area.” That is YOUR turf and that can be a very scary place for non-members. It’s a lot like walking onto a used car lot. You walk onto that lot with your defenses up ready to have a product pushed on you that you’re not sure you really want, sometimes by a sleazy guy that seems to need a shower and you can tell he’s lying to you. But, talking to a friend about what type of car to purchase doesn’t seem so intimidating. Taking recruitment out of the houses eliminates that anxiety in recruits and demonstrates our interest in others.
All of this, and more, is available through the results-driven Recruitment Boot Camp process. “I wish this was available when I was an undergraduate. Maybe my chapter would still be around,” said Dan Faill, “I’m a founding father and past president of a chapter who closed nearly seven years after chartering. It wasn’t hazing or risk management that closed us. It was our inability to recruit better men and leaders.”
Want to learn more about how to recruit quality members? We have more ideas on this topic and many more in our RBC: Fall Webinar Series. Please visit http://rbcwebinars.eventbrite.com for information about purchasing these affordable and exceptionally helpful educational resources for your community.
Recruitment Boot Camp educates chapters to implement a year-round, networking based, recruitment system through a variety of educational means including webinars, campus programs, keynote presentations, and chapter coaching. For more information please visit www.recruitordie.com or follow us at @recruitordie.
About the Authors
Dan Faill (@DanFaill) is a full-time staff member at Loyola Marymount University he isn’t just a Greek advisor, he’s a facilitator of values congruence in the forum of fraternity and sorority life. He is a member of Theta Chi fraternity and has worked as a staff member at the national level, a volunteer on the regional and national level, and always challenges others to strive for excellence.
Laurel Peffer (@lpeff) is a full-time Recruitment Specialist for CAMPUSPEAK, Inc. She is a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and has worked as Fraternity/Sorority campus advisor at Bowling Green State University and Lafayette College. firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on fraternity recruitment: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.