Guidelines to Make a Successful Chapter – Part 2: Make it Better
By: Leyalle Donnelly, president of the Pi Kappa chapter of Delta Zeta at the University of Idaho
Leyalle’s leadership and support was invaluable during Phi Kappa Tau’s expansion to Idaho. Her two-part blog offers eight thoughts on how to create a great chapter from someone who is doing it from the ground up.
Last post, I focused on the first four steps of building a great chapter. Here are some more tips I have learned to recruit the best people on campus who aren’t greek (yet):
To recap part one…
- Find the person that knows it all
- Sororities are your best friend
- Quality over quantity
- Know the greek climate
- People join people, not organizations. My campus greek advisor, Matt Kurz, told me that. Men will join your chapter because of the people they relate to.Think back to when you became a member of your chapter. Did you accept a bid because you thought the men you had met were great? Or was it because Phi, Kappa and Tau were the coolest looking letters in the greek alphabet? Or because Phi Tau had the coolest flyers hanging up?
Think about the ONE man that you attribute your membership to. To you, is he Phi Kappa Tau? If so, you want to be more like that person, right? If your members are striving to hold up the values stated in the Phi Tau mission statement, creed and Ritual, then potential members are going to respect the life members are living and will agree or disagree with what is being offered.
If your chapter’s most recent new member class is a bunch of trouble-makers, then maybe you should look at your current members. Maybe you should also look at how you recruit. Are all of your members men that your founders would be proud of?
- Team up. Do a community service project or philanthropy with another organization on campus. Team up with a non-greek organization. It creates an opportunity to meet other people who could potentially join your fraternity.If they are already volunteering to do community service or philanthropy then maybe they will have other views that match yours.
- Remember and learn. When recruiting new members it is a good reason to remember why you joined the organization. In college, we have some of the best times of our lives and more often than not those memories are with members of our chapter.Potential members want to hear those memories and I bet you want to share them too. When they see that smile that comes over your face when you tell the story, they are going to want to smile the same way. They want memories. Share them with your new members and provide them with opportunities to start having them as well. As a leader, that is your responsibility.
Also, learn from those who don’t join. Don’t take criticism negatively because it is actually a great tool for making your chapter stronger. If someone shares something they don’t like about your chapter then make changes in the future if it will benefit.
- It is going to be tough. To founding fathers: starting a chapter is draining, but when you see the charter on the wall with your name on it, all that work seems worth it. Don’t be discouraged when some of your original members leave before you become established. When my chapter was becoming established, it took many late nights and long talks to decide what we wanted to be as a chapter. There are going to be disagreements and some of the best days of your life, but be thankful that you get to have both.Your first few campus events will be hard to get attendance, but not every tradition started with 100 people. It takes a small group to get the ball rolling and the word out. So, when you are at the point of quitting try to remember the light at the end of the tunnel instead of the traffic jam in the chapter room.
To existing chapter members: While you may have many of these same issues, remember that someone (no matter how long ago) made this experience possible for you. Go look at your charter. Read those names. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about the things that they went through to get your chapter started. Honor their hard work by committing to being the best chapter you are capable of.
Matt Mattson, co-founder of Phired Up Productions, has a belief that “fraternities don’t have operational problems if they don’t have recruitment problems.” If you want to be an excellent chapter, then recruit excellent men. It is easy to recruit Average Joe but you should really be looking for someone that looks like Clinton Dewitt Boyd or Taylor Albert Borradaile.
Every morning while I am getting ready I say my sorority’s creed. I say it so that I can remind myself of the values I represent and the person I am expected to be. Roy Disney once said that “It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.”
To look at the quote in the eyes of a greek leader, “It’s not hard to run a chapter if your members know what our values are and live them.”