Kappa Delta Rho is a social fraternity with chapters on 38 college campuses across the United States. Since 2007, undergraduate membership has skyrocketed 109% according the Executive Director, Joe Rosenberg. He told Phired Up’s Josh Orendi, “KDR chapters are living our values, expecting Social Excellence, and using Dynamic Recruitment.” The last 6 years have produced record breaking growth for the fraternity. On March 17th, Josh caught up with Joe for a conversation about KDR’s recruitment success:
Phired Up: Will you share KDR’s growth numbers over the last 6 years?
Joe: Here is the report I recently gave our Board of Directors.
REGION MEMBERS 2007 MEMBERS 2013 GROWTH
Northeast 242 460 90%
Central 192 391 104%
Midwest 200 421 111%
South 141 348 147%
Total 775 1620 109%
Phired Up: KDR isn’t the only national fraternity with impressive growth numbers….
Joe: That’s true, but we’re doing it in a different way. We have a different philosophy.
Phired Up: What is KDR’s philosophy on growth?
Joe: Too many people look at growth as being external – as though it can only happen through new chapter expansion. That’s not 100% true. Case in point, KDR is not hiring a Director of Expansion. We are planning to hire a Director of Growth. Sure we’ll open new groups, that’s a good thing. But, we’re focused on the growth and success of our existing chapters. We don’t throw chapters away because of low membership. We re-invest in them. The biggest factor impacting our growth is small chapters that are now succeeding.
Phired Up: For example?
Joe: We feel like we have an obligation to help our chapters of 20 or fewer members become thriving chapters of 40+ members. Our Penn State chapter is a great example. They had 21 members a few years ago. The organization re-invested in them and helped them learn how to use Dynamic Recruitment to sell KDR’s values. Today they’re 109 members strong.
Phired Up: Are you doing any expansions to start KDR chapters on new campuses?
Joe: The KDR national staff has re/started 9 chapters in the last 5 years. We’ve also closed 6 chapters during that time. In some ways this could be considered addition through subtraction. We aren’t afraid to close a chapter that doesn’t want to play by the rules. Our expansions make it possible to hold groups accountable, but it also allows us to return to schools where we have dormant chapters. We choose our expansion opportunities very intentionally. During my time as Executive Director, we’ve only had one failed expansion project.
Phired Up: Where did you find the resources to make this investment in growth?
Joe: Creative partnerships were an important piece of the puzzle. For example, our alumni groups have stepped up to partner with the national fraternity on campuses like Oregon State and Bucknell. These are re-colonizations led by the national fraternity, but partially funded by the chapter alumni associations. The organization is working in cooperation internally. We’re finding new ways to get to our shared goal of more and better KDR gentlemen.
Phired Up: Is the organization better because it’s bigger?
Joe: KDR can do more good because we have more members.
Phired Up: What is recruitment doing to the bottom line?
Joe: We have more resources because membership has increased. The professional staff has grown from 2 to 8 team members who are dedicated to serving our brothers. We’ve revamped our new member program from traditional pledging to a state of the art member education program called The Legion. The regional meetings have been replaced by a more professional and effective Council’s Academy for newly elected officers.
Phired Up: Is this the largest KDR has ever been?
Joe: KDR experienced a membership growth surge a few decades ago. We grew really fast, then we fell even faster. Those lessons hurt, but we learned from them. Growth without proper infrastructure is not sustainable. We won’t make that mistake again.
Phired Up: Will you keep growing at this rate?
Joe: Our Board of Directors established a strategic plan in 2012 with the goal of more than 1400 undergraduates. We are almost there two years ahead of schedule. . What I can tell you is that the experience our members are receiving is world class. KDR is effectively competing with organizations 3-10 times our membership size. We’re providing a very personal member experience that our brothers appreciate and at the same time, we’re pushing innovations that advance the interfraternal movement.
Phired Up: So basically it’s a great time to be a member of Kappa Delta Rho…
Joe: It’s fun to be part of a winning team, that’s for sure. KDR’s strategic plan calls for 400 undergraduate members in each of our 4 regions of the country by 2017. We’re on pace to pass that goal a year ahead of schedule. That’ll put a smile on everyone’s face.
Interview Date: March 17, 2014
Interview Conducted By: Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com
Guest: Joe Rosenberg, Executive Director of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity
Do you think your growth story is worthy of a Spotlight Interview? Contact us at Info@PhiredUp.com.
Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Archives:
New #1, Alabama Takes Over as Nations Largest Greek Community | Meet The Fastest Growing Fraternity In The Nation; Alpha Sigma Phi | How Alcohol (or the lack thereof) is Helping One Fraternity Grow Fast
“We don’t need to be talking about stereotypes and perceptions, we need to take a look at our reality.” -Kristin Leih, Fraternity/Sorority Professional
The reasons people sometimes don’t join, are so obvious when you have a chance to hear them directly from the “prospects.” We saw this post on Facebook the other day from a friend of Phired Up, Kristin Leih. She’s an experienced fraternity/sorority professional, and her post really struck us as powerful.
If you could hear the conversations between the best non-Greek students on your campus, what do you think they’re saying about fraternities and sororities?
Sometimes we do “Non-Greek Student Panels” at our Phired Up programs on campuses. There are always poignant responses to the “Why aren’t you Greek?” question. But this post was so powerful — it’s the “what they’re whispering when we’re not looking.”
Solution: Let’s start talking to our non-Greek friends. Let’s ask the best of them for help making fraternity/sorority better. Maybe they won’t join, but if we consider their perspectives and their REALITY, perhaps we can build better organizations that they’d be interested in. Perhaps they’d build them with us.
[Note: At the end of this blog we announce an important upcoming webinar series for sororities!]
[Another Note: We've written a highly-read blog on this topic before here. Read it and share these with your sisters.]
by KJ McNamara
Panhellenic Councils across North America are all trying to answer the question: How do we teach sororities to do values-based sorority recruitment?
This has been our goal for years as sorority women; creating a recruitment system that helps our chapters find women who value the same things as our members, and helping our Potential New Members select chapters based on their character.
At Phired Up we have always said the key to values-based sorority recruitment lies in 4 necessary ingredients. Those 4 things are: the Criteria we use to select our new members, the Behaviors we demonstrate during recruitment, the Conversations we initiate during the recruitment process and finally, the Expectations we communicate to PNMs during recruitment. Lets break these down a little bit…
Criteria: How do we currently select our members? How are we helping our PNM’s make their selection? Are these based on values? How can we create a selection criteria that is not an emotional reaction for each individual but rather something that is a little more systematic?
Behavior: What does our current behavior communicate about what we value? What do our values communicate about how we should behave? Our behaviors should speak so loudly about what we value that we should never have to tell a PNM what we value or put it on our name tags or t-shirts. Every PNM should walk out of our recruitment events and be able to tell you what we value.
Conversation: Each of our sororities is a lifelong commitment… which means that we need to have a serious conversation with each of our Potential New Members about how important our sorority is, how it has shaped us, and why our sorority matters. But so often in recruitment I hear women say, “that was the best conversation ever, we did not talk about the sorority once, we talked about our guilty pleasure fast food restaurants.” Are we preparing our members to have serious meaningful conversations with PNM’s during recruitment? Are we preparing our PNM’s to ask meaningful conversations during recruitment?
Expectations: Are we accurately portraying our membership expectations during recruitment? Are we holding PNM’s up to the expectations we have as Panhellenic Councils? The information we communicate during our first interaction with PNM’s will be what they remember and understand to be true about our organizations. Sororities are the most prestigious women’s organizations on any given campus… are we communicating that during recruitment?
As a Panhellenic, these 4 things are a place to start. If you want to help your chapters incorporate values into their formal recruitment preparation… this is the common ground to start from. Remember to take small steps. You cannot transform into a values-based recruitment chapter/community over night, but maybe consider a 3-year plan with changes you hope to make each year. If you want help thinking about what to incorporate values-based recruitment each year give me a call!
If you want more information about Values-Based Sorority Recruitment we are hosting a series of three webinars for Panhellenics everywhere starting in April! Here are the questions we will answer and the information we will cover (CLICK HERE TO REGISTER):
Week 1: What is Values Based Sorority Recruitment? Why did it start? What does it mean? How do we achieve it?
Week 2: Criteria & Conversations. How do we create a selection Criteria as a sorority Chapter? How do we help our PNM’s create a valuable criteria for picking a chapter? What types of conversation workshops could we host? What types questions can PNM’s ask to conjure up meaningful conversations?
Week 3: Behaviors & Expectations. What changes do we need to make to our behaviors? How can we better communicate through our behaviors? How can we attract quality members while communicating our high expectations? How can we hold all women in the recruitment process up to our expectations?
Some members of a Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity chapter recently did a great exercise to drive names onto their Names List and start great conversations. They put up a posterboard/flip chart and wrote: “Before I Die I Want To…” Then they engaged passersby (at their table on campus) in great conversations around their answers. As you can see they got some fun answers, got some names and contact information, and most importantly had some great conversations with people who would otherwise have been strangers.
Josh Orendi, on the Phired Up team, chimed in on this idea and suggested that it could be just as powerful to ask people, “Before I graduate I want to…” The responses could give your organization some pretty great ideas about how to engage potential members in the stuff they want to do in college (aka new ideas for recruitment events!).
How to recruit high quality people into your fraternity or sorority.
There are more tips to share, but 15 seems about right for now. Good luck!
by Josh Orendi
We know that organizations that fall apart can almost always trace their demise to a deterioration of their core – People or Purpose. That’s been written about in our books. We also know that organizations that succeed almost always have a clear and inspiring purpose along with a growing and developing membership of highly motivated people. People+Purpose=Successful Organization.
But many organizational leaders struggle with having a clear purpose. For good reason. It’s hard to determine. Where do you find your purpose? Many of our organizations have a mission statement, a governing board, or even ancient text that outlines our reason for being. Purpose can start there, but it has to become more personal than that. If you don’t emotionally connect with your purpose, you probably don’t have one. So where can your purpose come from?
Purpose has parents. Purpose is birthed from two seemingly opposing forces, PASSION and PAIN. It’s time for your organization to get to know your parents.
While you’ve probably heard many people rant about the importance of “starting with why” and “finding your passion,” where do you find yours? The answer may come from purpose’s other parent. Let me explain. Rather than asking, “what do we love do to,” try asking “what really pisses me/us off?” Identifying the greatest pains of your life provide keys to unlocking passion.
Furthermore, begin to think about your Passion and Pain as cooperative rather than combative forces. In a happy marriage, Passion and Pain work together and Purpose is born from the discovery that we can take the things we love to have/do/be and focus them on solving real problems that create unavoidable pain for us and those in our community that we truly care about. Suddenly we begin seeing new possibilities, new ways to focus our time and resources, new excitement about the organization, and a new Purpose (that is often an extension of the old) empowering our membership to become empowered SERVANT LEADERS.
After birth, when our organization is no longer a selfish entity designed to meet our needs a new maturity develops. In our adolescence we find value in virtue. That is, the organization becomes a vehicle for service. Servant leadership gives people great joy because it is a meaningful way to focus their passions and resolve their pains.
For example, in 2002 Matt Mattson and I left our low paying jobs working 80 hour weeks for our fraternity’s professional staff. We left well prepared with new skills, great lessons, and libraries of memories. What we both found is that something was unsettled. There was a nagging need that wouldn’t let us sleep. It was two fold. We were literally pissed off (pain) that student organizations were not being taught how to grow and develop their membership base. We were also yearning for an opportunity to become teachers/trainers/coaches (passion). Through this passion and pain we found our PURPOSE. When our Purpose was born, it took the shape of Phired Up Productions.
As you think about creating an organization, reviving a struggling group, or taking a successful organization to the next level of excellence, remember the importance of establishing and staying centered on a firm foundation of PEOPLE and PURPOSE. You’ll recruit the quality of members that you desire when your purpose is clear. Knowing what you want to achieve allows you to know who you want to recruit. And those you’re trying to recruit will be inspired by that purpose that you want to achieve.
Take out a pen and paper, your tablet, your laptop, or even your phone. Find a way to write your answer to this question down before going any further.
What are three reasons I should join your chapter?
Good work. Oh wait, you didn’t really do it? Seriously, go back and do it now before going on. It shouldn’t be too hard. Just write down your answer before moving on.
Now look at what you wrote down. Here are some very important questions to consider:
So often, the answers given to that question are based on the biased view of people who are already members. They’re good answers, but they’re only answers that matter to people that are already in the organization. We seem to mentally shape our justifications for membership around our lived experience, but non-members (especially high quality ones) don’t have the same experience as you so don’t care about what you think they should care about.
That’s not true for everyone’s answers, but critically look at what you wrote down. Discuss this exercise with the other “workhorses” in your chapter. Better yet, discuss this exercise with high caliber non-members on campus that you know. Build a recruitment, marketing, and conversation strategy around what high caliber non-members actually care about.
So, why should I join your chapter?