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!
by Matt Mattson
Before you ask someone to join your organization for the rest of their lives, I think you should have them fill out a formal application and conduct a serious interview. I don’t think that’s crazy talk. To get a job at McDonald’s you need to do that. So, you know, I think we should do that too.
Lots of fraternities already do. Some do it in a stupid way and make it intimidating for the prospect. That’s not what I mean. I think we should take it seriously, and make sure you find out the things you need to know before offering this guy a chance to represent your organization. Is he a criminal? Is he tens of thousands of dollars in debt already? Does he do drugs? Does he hate meetings, work, and community service? You know — the basic stuff that most fraternities do not know about their new members until it’s too late.
I’d recommend building a Values-Based Selection Criteria (example here) and basing most of your questions off of that.
I’d also recommend making sure we ask four specific questions in the interview…
Hazing, sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse, and discrimination seem to be our fraternity world’s primary demons of the moment. Will asking those four questions (or similar ones) ensure you don’t recruit hazing, racist, drunk driving, homophobic rapists? Unfortunately no. But at least it’s something. At least it starts the conversation. At least it opens up dialogue and gives us a little bit more of a chance to talk about the men that we need, to look for warning signs, and to set an expectation that this stuff isn’t tolerated in our groups.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been in this business for a few years now (14ish). I find myself feeling disheartened by fraternity too often. Especially this time of year, which seems like one of the two primary “silly seasons” of our fraternal world where we collectively make lots of dumb ass decisions (the other being spring formal time). I don’t know how to fix these problems. The only thing I can think to do is ask our better members to have more real conversations about the stuff that matters. Those four questions in a formal interview might be a good place to start. A formal interview might be a good place to start. Selection standards might be a good place to start.
What’s the opposite of #DynamicRecruitment? Well, “Static Recruitment.” We’ve been telling this story since we founded the company in 2002, and many college fraternity chapters can still find a lot of concepts in the story eerily familiar.
Read this story and highlight any section that seems vaguely familiar to you. This is one style of recruitment — we call it “static.” It’s fine. It’s just not the way the “varsity team” does recruitment. Enjoy.
The Best Guys On Campus
After hours of heated debate, the color and design of this year’s rush T-shirts are determined. The T-shirts arrive just in time for the big week. At the last minute the chapter throws together several events for IFC (Interfraternity Council) rush week. A few members print up fliers and chalk the sidewalks of campus. One brother leverages his artistic ability to produce a large rush banner on a white bed sheet.
The chapter invests most of its available funds and hundreds of man hours into preparing for the arrival of freshmen prospects. The IFC events are OK, but the real recruiting happens at the chapter’s Big Event. They’re known for Big Event and have a lot of pride in this special occasion.
Nobody is quite sure who will be coming to Big Event, but everyone is sure it will be Big. Prospective members will be asking for bids by the dozens when they see how the chapter can make Big Event come together. Special care has been given to cleaning the house (sort of), the women have been invited, beverages are provided, and free food is available. The chapter is now prepared for the best rush ever.
Big Event goes relatively well since everyone had a good time. However, the brothers ate most of the free food, the girls in attendance were mostly the brothers’ current girlfriends, and nobody seems to remember but a handful of the prospects by name – except for the 2-3 guys everyone sort of knew were going to pledge regardless.
With the lessons of Big Event learned, the chapter realizes it needs to “step it up” since the rush period is half over. So they regroup and have… another Big Event.
As rush week comes to a close, the brothers huddle in a room together to begin the infamous voting process. A few guys slide through with a unanimous “yes.” Then, a brother slouched on a couch at the back of the room questions a prospect’s credibility and someone else yells out, “Yeah, I don’t even know the kid.” Another says, “That’s what the pledge period is for.” Finally, a brother calmly says, “Trust me, he’s a good guy.” A few others chime in, “Yeah, give him a chance. He seems like a good guy to me.” With that, the criteria has been set and the chapter is now several hours deep in a hot room to determine who is “good guy” enough to receive a bid.
Most of the small percentage of freshmen they’ve met are given bids, but only half of those bids are accepted. The chapter is shocked! However, the brothers set things at ease by reminding themselves that – just like last semester – they got “the best guys on campus.”
“Besides,” they say, “we’re about quality, not quantity.”