12 Fraternity/Sorority Recruitment Research Lessons

Phired Up Productions strives to provide values-centered, research-based, relationship-focused products and services to help grow fraternities and sororities. We strive to not just teach our opinion, but base our education and coaching in research. We’re continually working to become even more data-driven.

Occasionally we release major (very important and formal) research reports to the world. This isn’t one of those. In this post, we just wanted to offer some pieces of information that derive from our research on fraternity/sorority recruitment for discussion. We know our research is just a glimpse at a sliver of the big picture, and it certainly shouldn’t be taken as gospel. But we’re pretty proud of a couple of our major projects that have unveiled some interesting statistics – these statistics give us important clues to the way fraternities and sororities are currently growing (or not). Here are some of our favorite. Enjoy, share, discuss, and help us dig deeper.

There are two reports these particular nuggets of information come from.

Campus Growth Survey:
2014 is our third year doing the Campus Growth Survey. In this survey we ask campus-based fraternity/sorority professionals to tell us about their campus’s growth processes. Typically we’ve had approximately 40% of all campuses with fraternity/sorority life in North America participate each year (that’s massive!). The 2014 study is coming in with a lower response rate, unfortunately, but the data from last year is still completely relevant (more info on this year’s data will be shared later this year).

Dynamic Recruitment Assessment:
Phired Up offers a free recruitment assessment for chapters on our website. Chapter representatives answer 20 questions about how their group recruits new members. Over the last 18 months or so, there have been 591 total responses; 199 responses representing women’s groups and 394 responses representing men’s. The tool measures to what extent is a chapter doing DYNAMIC RECRUITMENT versus STATIC RECRUITMENT (on a scale of 1 (static) to 100 (Dynamic). The average score for all groups is 46/100 – indicating that organizations around the country are “more static than dynamic.”

All statistics cited below are based on percentages of respondents and should not be taken as hard core, completely certain, 100% facts.

Less than ½ of fraternity communities actually support open, year-round recruitment despite the NIC’s firm stance on the subject. It was reported that 47% of campuses support open, year round recruitment for IFC groups. Additionally, 30% of campuses practice deferred fraternity recruitment. This is a pretty big deal. If you care about giving the gift of fraternity to more men, actually supporting open expansion is an important step in growing the fraternity movement.

Over ¾ of Panhellenic communities use a fully-structured recruitment system – the vast majority of which take place in the fall. Of those reporting, 76% of campuses are using fully-structured recruitment for NPC groups, most of whom recruit in the Fall semester.

On average, 15% of women that received a bid through a formalized recruitment process did not initiate into a chapter.

Over 200 chapters are successfully started or re-started every year just on the campuses that completed our Campus Growth Survey (that’s probably less than 1/2 of all of them!). Among those reporting, a total of 225 (60% of all efforts) successful or highly successful expansion/extension efforts were held on campuses since the last Campus Growth Survey Report. New groups make up a large part of the overall growth of the fraternal movement.

About 3/4 of campuses have some type of fraternity and sorority housing arrangement.

In total, 53% of respondents indicated that they are aware that alcohol is being used to some degree during the recruitment processes on their campus. Mostly in IFC recruitment.

Many chapters have Names Lists, but they are too small. When asked about a list of prospective new members (a “names” list) 57% of women’s groups responded that they have a names list; 44% of those lists have 1-50 names. 83% of men’s groups have a names list; 47% of those lists have 1-50 names. Effective year-round recruitment requires a names list, and Phired Up teaches how to grow them so that chapters can be more selective – more focused on quality.

Only 27% of women’s groups and 12% of men’s groups report that their new members are ‘completely’ prepared to recruit for their chapter.

Only 57% of women’s groups use an official written criteria to select new members; only 28% of men’s groups use a criteria. “He’s a good guy,” or “She’ll be a great fit” might not be the best way to determine a prospect’s qualification for membership.

27% of women’s and 63% of men’s groups say that someone in their organization has a conversation to address concerns with all potential new members prior to inviting them to join. A “Pre-Close,” as taught by Phired Up can help a chapter get to 100% bid acceptance.

About 1/2 of our members are uncomfortable calling non-members to hang out.

About 35% of chapter leaders completing the Dynamic Recruitment Assessment admit that less than ½ of their recruitment process reflects their organizational values.

There’s still a ton more to learn, obviously. And these little nuggets only give us a glimpse into how fraternity/sorority growth is happening. There is a massive difference, too, amongst men’s groups, women’s groups, co-ed groups, groups that are for specific audiences and don’t make gender their qualifier, culturally-based groups, professional groups, service groups, etc. We’re really just starting the research that needs to be done. Thanks for your help thus far, and thanks in advance for continuing to help in the future!