by Matt Mattson
For the past few years I’ve been presenting a program titled, “Drone Shots & Glitter: The best and worst sorority recruitment videos and what we can learn from them” on campuses and at conferences around North America (want me to present to your community? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
This program has become one of my favorite things to present. And every year, a whole new batch of sorority recruitment videos is ready for review and reflection.
Let’s start with a new video from Delta Zeta at The University of Indiana released recently, and then one other from Chi Omega at the University of Washnigton… Watch and enjoy. As you’re watching, consider the two questions I ask all my audiences to consider as they’re watching these videos…
Before I move on, let me say this clearly… I LOVE ALL OF THESE VIDEOS. As a marketer and as a values-based fraternity/sorority professional, I think these videos are truly amazing. There are three big reasons why I love these videos.
With all that said, check out a handful of our other past and present favorite sorority recruitment videos. Ask yourself the two questions we listed at the beginning of the blog as you enjoy each of these videos. We’ll even include a couple non-Panhellenic videos in here too just for fun.
After you’ve watched these, scroll down for our top 5 tips to make your sorority recruitment video great!
by Jason Allen
In fraternity and sorority, we often fall victim to “the buzzwords”. Our intent gets lost in our word choices, and becomes diluted into random phrases instead of powerful messages. What if we rethink the way we use buzzwords, and use them as they are intended rather than hashtags on Instagram? Here are a few of my favorite buzzwords, and what they mean to me:
Intentionality: I think what we mean when we use this is to show that we want to be having direct and focused conversations. When I say I am being intentional, I mean my mind and heart are in the right place, and I would love to really focus my energy on this one thing at this time. I want to be intentional on my word choice, because words matter. I am making the choice to be mindful about how I am approaching a person, a topic, or a boundary. Intentionality.
Leaning in: I think what we mean when we say this is that we are being present and diving into something rather than turning away. We are making the choice to opt-in, instead of opting-out. It could be during an intense conversation or during a chaotic moment, but we know being present and offering of ourselves is more important than ignoring it. Sometimes, we need to opt-out for self-preservation and keeping ourselves emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically safe. But, we lean in when we know it counts, and when we know it matters. Leaning in.
Vulnerable: As one of the most overused buzzwords, I think we mean to say we are being open and truly transparent and sharing things we normally wouldn’t. We are making the choice to put ourselves out there, when we know we could be judged. We are showing people a side of us that might not always be seen, and are allowing people to see a little deeper into who we are. And when we ask for someone to be vulnerable with us, we are inviting them in to make a choice to pull down their barriers and be truly present with us. Vulnerable.
Challenge & Support: This one is often tossed around with advisors and mentors (mentor, another fancy buzzword), but shows up in our chapters as well. We are trying to say that we hear and see and understand what you are attempting, but please allow me to have you think differently. And while you are trying to reframe and rethink, we are going to love you through it and to it. We are making a choice to engage and care enough to push back a little, and then take care of you while we push. We often times need to use challenge and support when discussing more delicate and serious matters, and again, are choosing to take the journey with you. Challenge & Support.
This is only four of the many we use, including, but not limited to: mentor, sisterhood/brotherhood, authenticity, values-based, accountability, and dialogue. What I want to challenge us to do (and I will support you through it) is to use the buzzwords as enhancers, not as words we hide behind. During recruitment, let’s use these words to truly talk about the experience, not about the script we use that has the words flowing through it. In our meetings, lets actually be present instead of using a buzzword to tell everyone how present you are. What I’m saying is, let’s make better choices around our words.
How will you use your favorite buzzword differently today?
by Erin Chatten
For several years, brothers and sisters of fraternal organizations have taken our free, online Dynamic Recruitment Assessment to receive a score to better understand how their chapter is currently recruiting. With a potential of 95 possible points, chapters are rated as Static (29 or under), More Static than Dynamic (30-54 points), More Dynamic than Static (55-80 points), or Dynamic (81 and above).
Before you keep reading, pause for a moment and take the assessment above to see how your organization is doing…
Well, how’d you do? Better than you thought? Worse? Don’t worry if your score is lower than you pictured, you are not alone. We are here to provide you resources to make sure your recruitment practices can be in tip top shape by the start of this next school year. Check out some of the key areas we’ve learned that chapters struggle with the most, and find resources you can use to help lead your chapter to recruitment success!
Our fellow fraternal friends most commonly struggle with how membership selections are made. The majority (58%) said that they make selections using phrases like “they’re cool” or “they seem like they will benefit the organization”.
We need to be utilizing written, official criteria for selection that evaluates all potential members on an even playing field where we truly challenge if they are right for membership. Our members should be familiar and have a part in the conversation for the selection criteria. Check out these two resources for an example of criteria for men’s and women’s organizations.
Connecting to unaffiliated individuals
You can’t recruit who you don’t know. 86.5% of respondents said the average member in their chapter only has 1-5 close friends outside the organization and 72% said their average members only would know 1-5 individuals to consider for membership. Too often, I believe that we take the first group of people who knock on our door looking for membership rather than getting to know as many people as possible on our campus. This results in us taking in some questionable members, and coming across as exclusive and unapproachable to unaffiliated members. Check out this blog for how we can make more strangers become members.
Do you have a names list for your chapter of potential candidates for membership? 75% said they do. This is great! However, most of our organizations struggle with how many names are on that list. Whether you are in a men’s, women’s, or co-ed organization, you should always be keeping a list of names (formal recruitment registration doesn’t count!) of potential members you could recruit from. 63% of our names lists only have 1-50 names on it! Using data from ChapterBuilder, we know that only about 10% of our names list will actually join our organizations. This means if we are looking to fill ten new member spots, we need at least a names list of 100 individuals to make that happen.
Panhellenic sororities struggle with this the most. We rely so heavily on formal recruitment, if new members drop or total is not met, we spend chapter resources (members time, chapter money) to hold informal events in the hopes to meet our recruiting goals. If more time was spent creating relationships with non-members and growing our names list, there would be no need to host events. Instead, we could deepen already existing friendships and transform those relationships into new members.
How do you grow your names list? To start, ask each member to write down the names of non-affiliated members who they would consider for membership. Need help? Check out these name joggers for sorority and fraternity. (*Hint* This activity should be done with every new member to see if they have any friends who could be interested.) From there we simply have to be more normal. Make friends outside of your organization, get involved across campus, and develop acquaintances and friends.
Recruitment preparation is important so that our members understand how to identify quality members, can practice their pre-close, address responses to concerns, have stronger conversations, and so much more. We recommend doing this preparation multiple times over the year to alleviate some of the stress that often gets attached to recruiting. Currently, only 4% of chapters have numerous, year-round trainings and is completely prepared to recruit. Most chapters are either somewhat prepared with one training a year (39%), or are a little prepared and have only mentioned recruitment without any training (34%).
Check out these resources for pre-closing for men and women.
Check out this blog on the fundamentals of a pre-close.
Need more help preparing for recruitment, or want to take your assessment a step deeper? Contact me at email@example.com to chat more about your Dynamic Recruitment Assessment results!
by Matt Mattson
This academic year more than 100,000 men will join one of the 6,100+ fraternity chapters that thrive on more than 800 campuses across North America. At Phired Up, TechniPhi, and Innova, we are passionate about helping more responsible, thoughtful, high-performing gentlemen experience the positive life-changing gift of college fraternities.
We know that only about 10% of students that attend colleges and universities in the U.S. where Greek Life exists end up joining. We can do better than that. There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of men on college campuses who deserve and desire the benefits of fraternity in their life, but our recruitment processes and our marketing work isn’t reaching them.
The great news, though, is that non-Greek students are as interested in joining fraternities as they’ve ever been. Data from Innova Marketing shows that less than 1/4 of non-Greeks surveyed held a negative view of Greek Life, while over 75% of non-Greeks are positive or neutral in their opinions of fraternities and sororities. In fact, when asked directly about their interest level in joining Greek Life, about 40% said they had a neutral to very high interest in joining.
So why don’t more people join? And more importantly, what do the numbers tell us about how we can get more high QUALITY men to join our fraternity chapters?
Our team recently looked at fraternity recruitment data from ChapterBuilder (the primary names list tool used by over 6000 chapters on 690 different campuses — currently managing 1.7 million PNM profiles!). We also looked at recent raw data from our Phired Up Dynamic Recruitment Assessment (take it for free here). We combined those findings with past findings by Phired Up, Innova, The NIC, and more (see our references at the bottom of this page). Here’s what we found.
A names list is vital to fraternity recruitment. 80% of men’s chapters have a names list (yikes! this means that 20% still don’t). The average size names list of a chapter is 402. Ten percent of chapters have names lists over 1000. At Phired Up we teach fraternity leaders that “Quantity Drives Quality” and that “You can’t recruit who you don’t know.” We want chapters to be more selective and thoughtful about the quality of men they’re recruiting, and we know that one of the best ways to do that is to increase the size of the pool of men from which you’re recruiting so that you can choose only the best of the best.
Here’s an important little nugget of information: 6.9% of prospects on a chapter’s names list end up joining the chapter. That’s about 7 out of every 100 on the names list. In other words, if you want a new member class of 30, you should aim for a names list of around 430 (or a 14:1 ratio). We’ve seen from past ChapterBuilder data that over 1/2 of the names that are added to a fraternity’s names list are never contacted again, so here’s an important tip — don’t just put the names on the list… follow up! How many times do you need to follow up? Well, of course that varies depending on the needs and relationship of the potential member, but past ChapterBuilder data has shown that potential members who end up joining a fraternity experience about 8 “points of contact” (times they hang out with or connect with a member) on average before they join.
Fraternities have a major opportunity to grow and improve their reputation simply by being more… SOCIAL. The recent Dynamic Recruitment Assessment data suggests that 58% of fraternity members can’t name more than 20 non-Greek men they might encounter walking around campus. 31% can’t name more than 10. When our marketing researchers asked non-Greeks, the responses were similar — 50% of non-Greeks can’t name more than 5 Greek members. We know that most people don’t hate fraternities. We also know that most people don’t ever actually reject becoming a member of a fraternity (over 70% of non-Greeks report never being recruited). The facts say that non-Greeks don’t hate us, they just don’t know us. We don’t have a recruitment problem — we have a friendship problem.
We know that many fraternity chapter leaders care deeply about recruiting higher QUALITY men into their chapters. We already mentioned the importance of having a big names list, but chapters should also have a written official criteria for membership, and not just a “He’s a Good Guy” approach. Unfortunately, the data shows that 65.7% of men’s chapters select members using phrases like “they’re cool” or “they seem like they’ll benefit the organization” to choose their new members. While less than 1/4 use a written official membership criteria. Phired Up teaches the importance of a Values-Based Selection Process. Here’s an example of what we teach.
Another tactic employed by high performing fraternity chapters to ensure the men who join are the right men for the chapter is the “Pre-Close.” This is the gentleman-to-gentleman conversation that happens before offering a “bid” that allows potential members to discuss concerns, and that allows the chapter members to clarify the responsibilities and expectations of membership. We have work to do because the numbers tell us that only 54.3% of men’s chapters have a conversation to address concerns with potential candidates prior to inviting them to join. Asking someone to join an organization for the rest of their life (and making sure we want them to join for the rest of our lives) deserves a serious thoughtful conversation.
Here are two other important and disturbing numbers that we discovered from the Dynamic Recruitment Assessment submissions: 75% of chapters admit that at least 25% of their members don’t regularly exhibit their organization’s values. 70% of chapters admit that at least 25% of their recruitment process does not reflect their organization’s values. Your recruitment events, marketing, conversations, and activities will determine the quality of men you attract. High quality people are attracted to high quality stuff.
One final number that is important to the quality of members we’re recruiting: Alcohol is a factor in recruitment. As recently as a few years ago, a Phired Up research study showed that 53% of campus-based fraternity/sorority professionals were aware that alcohol is being used to some degree during the recruitment processes on their campus. Mostly in IFC recruitment.
The entire college world is changing. It has been well-documented that while overall enrollment numbers in four-year colleges and universities has been on a steady increase over the past couple of decades (corresponding with similar growth in fraternities), those enrollment numbers are flattening. In fall 2016, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.4 percent from the previous fall. Spring 2017 shows another 1 percent decrease compared to the previous spring in public sector institutions. Four-year public institution enrollment hit a plateau two and a half years ago and has decreased year over year since then. Now consider that there are almost 3 million more women enrolled in college than men. Making sure our fraternity chapters know how to recruit a high quantity of high quality gentlemen is more important now than it has ever been.
These numbers can be overwhelming and confusing. But unsurprisingly they reinforce the truths that great recruiting chapters have known for a long time. These are the same truths we’ve been teaching for a long time too…
And one more note. Of all the numbers that matter, remember that Dynamic Recruitment (the style of recruitment the best recruiting chapters in the country use) is all about the 1 PNM — each INDIVIDUAL potential member. Build a recruitment system that is about his experience (not the chapter’s experience).
By Brittany White
Phired Up Productions has an ongoing Dynamic Recruitment Assessment to gather more information about the recruitment strategies of fraternities and sororities. We receive responses daily, and at our last analysis of over 1300 students from across the country, one of the responses that struck me answered the question “how much of your recruitment process clearly reflects your values?” Our respondents indicated less than half of their recruitment process clearly reflects our values.
We drop the word “values” all the time. We emphasize our values within our membership, but we still haven’t created a recruitment process that reflects our values. We understand our organization’s values, but we don’t talk about our values as a chapter or our values as individuals and how our organization shapes our values. Sometimes I think this task is easier said than done, so I wanted to share some tips on ways to implement and translate our values into our recruitment process. These tips certainly won’t cover all of our values, but hopefully will get your brain buzzing about other ways that you can infuse values into your recruitment process.
Every women’s fraternal organization has a value relevant to sisterhood and/or friendship. As we transition away from “skit” rounds, many communities are implementing a “sisterhood” round. One way that we can infuse our values into our recruitment is by using candid moments with our sisters and compiling those into a video – instead of a recruitment video that is staged and professionally recorded for us. Most college students have SnapChat these days. Many of us post pictures and videos with our sisters on our SnapChat and can easily save that fun, candid moment to put into a montage for later to show during recruitment.
Another creative way to infuse a shared value of scholarship and intellectual development is to use our sister’s “A papers” to make our decorations during recruitment. Instead of showing boards with information about all of our women who are in honor societies and talking about the GPA requirements of our chapter – we can utilize this simple thing to showcase that grades matter to us. During recruitment, we can ask our sisters to wear a special pin that indicates if they are on the Dean’s List or Honor Roll. When the Chapter President or Recruitment Chair welcomes Potential New Members (PNMs) back to our house, we can mention that we are proud of the academic accomplishments these pins represent. It’s a super easy way to be more reflective of our values. It also doesn’t require us to spew facts and figures about every honor society our members are in, or all of the scholarships they have received. These are visible ways that we are demonstrating what is important to us.
I think most national organizations value life-long commitment. A cool way to demonstrate life long commitment may be for us to pull out an old composite and hang it during recruitment and have a chapter member tell a story about a rewarding experience she had with one of our most engaged alumnae.
Let’s take it a step further, though. We need to spend time identifying the values that apply specifically to our chapter and our members. What makes our chapter different? In our recruitment workshops, we need to have conversations centering around this point. Many of us take time during recruitment to love on ourselves and talk about our identity as a chapter on our campus. In order for us ensure that we are continually reflecting our values during recruitment, it is incredibly important for us to identify the things we value that are unique to our chapter.
Once we understand our organizational values, our specific chapter values, and the values that we hope our new members hold, we need to identify the best ways to communicate those values in our conversations. I wrote a blog about how to have more values based conversations. Longer and more intentional conversations can allow for more values-based conversations between members and PNMs – we can talk about the organization’s values, our chapter’s values, what is important to us personally, and get to know what the PNM’s cares about and what matters to her. It’s just as important for us to understand the PNMs values as it is for us to share our values with her.
I think there are so many ways that we can utilize our values in our recruitment process. It might just require some thinking outside of the box. It is becoming more and more important for us to know and understand what’s important to us, how the values of our organization impact us, and the ways in which we live our values out loud. Our values aren’t just words but rather guidelines that we choose to live by.
What are some ways that you and your campus community are doing to reflect your values during your sorority recruitment process? We would love to hear about them. Just tag @PhiredUp on Twitter or PhiredUpProductions on Instagram to show us your ideas!
By Brittany White
As we talk more and more about implementing Values-Based Recruitment, it’s important for us to ensure that our Potential New Members (PNMs) understand what it means too. When I was on Panhellenic Council, I remember struggling to watch PNMs make decisions about a chapter based on frivolous things – like a rumor they had heard about the chapter or women in the chapter, or which chapter gave them more “social” capital. So from my experience, I can understand why PNMs struggle to determine what their values-based criteria for selecting a chapter should be. I could have used some guidance in what the expectations were of me as a member, and the questions that I needed to be asking chapters to find a group of women that I fit in with.
This list of “Five Ways to Help Potential Members Find Their Perfect Sorority” was not given to me when truly I could have used the suggestions during recruitment. My hope is that Panhellenic officers and Recruitment Counselors will take these strategies to help the PNMs on their campuses.. I would have benefitted from a personal system that helped me choose a chapter rather than just using my gut or best guess in the heat of the moment.
1) Help them determine what they want out of their sorority experience.
It’s important for PNMs to know what they are looking to gain from this experience – whether it be sisterhood, leadership opportunities, academics, etc. If a PNM is passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community, then we need to make sure that they are gathering information at each chapter about each chapter’s philanthropic efforts. If a PNM is looking for leadership opportunities, then it’s important for them to ask questions about women who hold office in the chapter or women who lead other organizations on campus. We also need to prepare PNMs that sorority women will probably ask them what they are looking for in their sorority experience so the chapter can ensure that they can meet their needs.
2) Help them identify their values.
We aren’t calling it values-based recruitment for nothing. If you are anything like me when I was 18 and heading off to college – I had ZERO idea what my values were, let alone how to determine them. Never fear, there are plenty of places on the Internet to help get PNM’s mind jogging (like Phired Up’s Values Bracket). We can help PNMs determine values by giving them a prompt. For example, think about a time in your life that made a significant impact on you (good or bad) and what some of the values and lessons were that you learned from that experience.
3) Provide PNMs with some reflection questions
It’s important for PNMs to have some reflective prep time for values-based conversations. They might get asked, “Tell me something that you are passionate about…” If they have never thought about it before – that’s a tough question. The goal of asking reflection questions is to help them identify qualities, experiences, and values that they possess which sorority women might ask them about. We don’t want them to be floored by any deep questions, but we also want chapter members to engage in intentional, values-based conversation. Panhellenic officers can send reflection prompts in a mass email leading up to recruitment or put them in the PNM Guide. It’s important that these reflective responses remain confidential. We wouldn’t want anyone to read our diary, so we shouldn’t read a PNMs either. Here are a few examples of some reflective prompts for PNMs:
4) Provide PNMs with some questions to ask
When I went through recruitment, I didn’t think I was allowed to ask questions. However, it is so important that PNMs ask questions to the sorority women in each chapter relevant to their values, and what they are looking for in a sorority. Once we have helped them to identify their values, we can walk them through some questions that they can ask sorority women to get a better understanding of each chapter.
5) Help them to establish their criteria
Once they have gathered their values, reflections, and questions it’s important to help them create a criteria. It will be the same for every chapter and as they go through the recruitment process. Recruitment Counselors and Panhellenic officers can encourage them to write about each chapter. So it might look something like this for PNMs:
As they go throughout recruitment they will continue to make notes by each of their criteria. For example:
Encourage PNMs to make short hand notes because it might be easier. They may not have time to write a novel, but they can come back to their short hand notes and expand on them later.
By using these five tips, PNMs can create a criteria that is tailored specifically to their values during the recruitment process. Encouraging them to use these as a baseline will certainly help them find the organization that is best suited for their growth that they will love and enjoy!
Need some help implementing this stuff? We are here to help!
By Brittany White
When I went through recruitment, I had no idea what the sorority women were going to ask me. I had no idea that I could ask them things. I feel like every conversation surfaced around the same questions: Where are you from? What’s your major? What dorm do you live in? Who do you live with? These were superficial questions that didn’t really matter. We live in a world where so many of our first interactions with people happen over technology. The fact that we are growing up in an age where technology is our vehicle means that we aren’t always trained to be comfortable with in-person conversations. As this becomes more and more evident, I think it has become even more critical that we help our Potential New Member (PNMs) prepare for conversations in recruitment.
As Panhellenic communities across the country implement values-based recruitment practices, I want to take some time and focus on the PNM’s role in values-based conversations during recruitment. Unfortunately, I think my experience in recruitment suffered because I wasn’t prepared for my conversations with sorority women. Formal recruitment is built for extroverts to succeed because for many extroverts it is very easy to jump into a conversation with a stranger. However, for the other women in recruitment that may not be super comfortable, it’s important that we provide some tips and training for all PNMs so that they are able to carry on a conversation. Mostly, I want to help since when I went through recruitment I had no clue what was going on and it was awkward. Ultimately we are doing PNMs a disservice by not training them for conversations. Here are three ways we can do better:
1. Have PNMs ask more questions. We have the opportunity to start encouraging PNMs to ask questions to chapter members. Our process isn’t an interview. However, our chapter members are trained to ask questions and get to know the PNM. We need to provide training for the PNMs about how to ask relevant questions about each chapter so they can better understand the women and the organization.
Remember, recruitment is about creating relationships. Relationships are a two way street.
2. Make Better Use of Recruitment Booklets. So many Panhellenic communities print booklets for PNMs with information about the community and each chapter. We should consider utilizing these as a method of training for the PNMs – particularly in conversations. Our booklets give us a vessel to provide reflection questions for the PNMs to answer that are relevant to our values-based recruitment systems. It’s important for us to give PNMs the tools necessary to prepare for their values-based conversations, and our reflection questions can be a great way to help them. Reflective questions will give them opportunity to think about relevant discussion topics for their conversations.
3. Intentionally explain what Values-Based Recruitment really means. Once PNMs have arrived for recruitment (and hopefully have done their reflection questions), we can provide some tips about values based conversations, what to expect in them, and how these values conversations will benefit our overall recruitment process. The word values can be intimidating for PNMs, so it’s important for us to take the time to explain what it means for them and provide them the tools to be successful in those conversations. Our training can also include some tips about how to stay away from superficial conversations. We train our chapters to have deep meaningful conversations and we want our PNMs to understand that those conversations are encouraged.
Our conversations are vital components throughout our process and to values based recruitment. In order for our PNMs to connect with our chapter members, their conversations are critical. That makes it critical for us as sorority women to take the time to help our PNMs understand the importance and value of their conversations, and give them a little guidance on how to do it.
This spring, something extraordinary happened at Georgia College!
The average size of a college fraternity in the United States is approximately 45 members. On average, those members use 52 weeks to recruit and initiate fewer than 20 new members into their chapter.
In March 2016, two men — Bo Hunter and Zach Vasseur — were sent to GC by Alpha Tau Omega’s national fraternity on a mission: to recruit the school’s highest quality non-Greek men and start a new chapter of ATO. They were given one month!
Approximately 2500 undergraduate men represent 45% of the Georgia College student body. There were already six fraternities on campus (average size of 65 members). ATO wanted to become the 7th. ATO partnered with the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Fraternity & Sorority Life to determine that there may be interest on campus from non-Greek men to start a new fraternity. On March 11th, just 25 days after arriving on campus, Bo & Zach announced that Alpha Tau Omega had 70 accepted bids!
I had an opportunity to interview Zach and his supervisor, RJ Taylor. (Transcript below) The recruitment results are exceptional, but I am most impressed with how they did it.
The professionalism of ATO’s team and deep partnership with the school provide a shining example of a new era of fraternity recruitment; an overhauled business model; a system and philosophy that may become the new normal. Stacey Milner, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, told me ATO executed the textbook example of how a fraternity should partner with a host institution. And, they were rewarded with 70 new members who she verified “are amazing guys, having an amazing experience.”
Warning: if you’re looking for “event ideas” or techniques to “get your name out there” then you’ll be wildly disappointed. You also won’t read about Rush Week calendars, off-campus parties, cool t-shirts, yard signs, frat castles, over-produced rush videos, giveaway swag, or booze. Just the opposite! ATO’s success is another example of the evolving professionalization of fraternity recruitment.
There is a fraternity-done-right story happening around the country that has gotten almost no press coverage even though it is happening on hundreds of college campuses every year. Select fraternity expansion teams and undergraduate chapters are choosing a relationship-focused, values-based, Dynamic Recruitment system that counters frat-star culture and public expectations of “going Greek.” The results are often exceptional in both quantity and quality – just like ATO at GC. Results that exceed what anyone thought might be possible. These groups represent the future of fraternity. They are the business model to replicate.
Here’s what Zach & RJ had to say about Alpha Tau Omega’s success at Georgia College.
Phired Up: Two men recruited 70 new members in less than 1 month. That’s impressive.
ATO: Thanks. We’re proud of Bo and Zach. They did a great job of executing ATO’s recruitment system.
Phired Up: Some people may read those numbers and question the quality of your new members or the selectivity of ATO.
ATO: We gave bids to 70 men and initiated all 70 of them. We interviewed and turned down 82 men who we didn’t think were ready for ATO. The new ATO group has a 3.29 GPA compared to the 3.05 all-fraternity GPA. We are proud of every single man in our group. They each exceeded our values-based selection criteria.
Phired Up: Good answer.
ATO: We got close to these guys. They’re friends – brothers. They really are some of the best men on campus. Our men represent leaders across all parts of campus. Student org officers, student government Chief of Staff, President of business fraternity, guys from Campus Outreach, Bible Study leaders, Intramural Reps….
Phired Up: People reading this will want to know how you did it. The details. Tactics. ATO has a strong expansion recruitment system, but what made this project so explosive in such a short amount of time?
ATO: (smiling) There was definitely some luck involved. The school was uncommonly supportive. We did lots of prep work and worked long days while we were on campus.
Phired Up: What does “uncommonly supportive” mean?
ATO: From the very first conversation we were in a real partnership with the school. We shared the same goal. Campus officials and even the IFC went out of their way to support us. The communication between our staff and the school was constant. Everyone was transparent. There was so much trust and mutual respect. I think we all [school, ATO, IFC, new members, alumni] worked together so well that we felt like we succeeded together as a team.
Phired Up: Will you share some of those tactics … the stuff you did different at GC that really worked?
Below are 10 recruitment tactics ATO did at GC that few recruitment teams are doing well – or not at all. They credit each of these with making a significant impact toward the results achieved:
1. INSTAGRAM – We planned on using Facebook and Twitter. At the last minute Zach threw together an Instagram account just to see what would happen. It blew up!
2. UNIVERSITY EMAIL – The campus administration was so supportive! Especially Stacey Hurt-Milner. The school emailed every incoming freshman with information about ATO. 34 guys showed up to our first interest meeting during the pre-site visit.
3. CHAPTERBUILDER – ATO uses recruitment technology called ChapterBuilder. However, this time we didn’t wait until the end of recruitment to invite all the new members into the system and train them. Instead, we invited about 15 of the guys who expressed early interest to use the technology with us. They went crazy with it and recruited 20+ of their friends using the tool.
4. SHAMROCK WEEK – The guys we recruited during the 1st week got involved right away and met a lot of sorority women. They won Kappa Delta sorority’s Shamrock Week before they were even a recognized group. That got people’s attention and built their confidence.
5. PRE-SITE VISIT – Our mantra is that ‘day one on campus is never day one of recruitment.’ We visited GC a few months before we started recruiting. That’s when we met the 34 guys from the campus generated email. We also built relationships with campus administrators, faculty, student leaders, sorority presidents, etc.
6. INTRAMURALS – We learned during the pre-site visit that up to 85% of GC students participate in IM’s. So we did, too. It paid off.
7. TAYLOR DEER – A recruitment specialist from Phired Up visited the project to coach the ATO team for a few days and help us refine our process. Taylor is the real deal.
8. CHUNKING – We never talked to a student without asking for referrals of quality Non-Greek men. Chunking is an art form. It takes practice. Our team got really good at it.
9. DEVOTIONAL – ATO is unique in that our top 3 officer positions are President, Vice-President, then Chaplain. ATO is the first fraternity founded on Christian values. The “ATO Devotional” is a book written by ATO’s for ATO’s talking about the bigger issues of life. We carried that book everywhere we went. Literally. It was a constant conversation piece.
10. SERVICE/OUTREACH – ATO is not a “frat.” One way we demonstrate that is putting service at the heart of our recruitment. We partnered with the GC Give Center to establish a partnership of giving between ATO and school to do community outreach.
Phired Up: You didn’t mention any rush events or a rush calendar.
ATO: Nah. If you mean traditional “big events,” we didn’t do that. We’ve found that large rush events send the wrong message, often attract the wrong guys, take too much time and money, and deliver too little return of quality members.
Phired Up: Alcohol?
ATO: If you’re asking us to have a beer with you after this interview, sure. If you’re asking if we used alcohol during recruitment, absolutely not! That would have undermined everything we were trying to build.
Phired Up: What did a typical day of recruitment look like?
ATO: There was no “typical” day. Hang on a sec. Here’s an example from Zach & Bo’s calendar.
7:30am wake up
9:00am arrive on campus (Einstein Bagel in Student Union)
9:30am – 4:30pm coffee meetings (typically 20+ meetings, 15-30 minutes each)
5:00pm dinner on campus
5:30pm be present on campus (slack line, IM sports, campus events, chill, etc)
7:00pm ATO information session
8:30pm arrive home, follow up calls, texts, & emails
10:00pm administrative work. Plan next day together.
11:00pm talk to friends/family, read news, etc
Phired Up: That’s intense.
ATO: It’s worth it.
Phired Up: Congratulations on your success at Georgia College & State University.
Bravo to Alpha Tau Omega for doing recruitment right. Thank you for sharing the Georgia College story.
While nearly every national fraternity in the country is enjoying unprecedented membership growth, some – like ATO – are using this moment in time to elevate the caliber of men they are recruiting and putting new, sustainable business systems in place that may make success stories like this the new normal. Now, that would be extraordinary.
Interview Date: May 12, 2016
Interviewer: Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com / Josh@TechniPhi.com
Zach Vasseur, Senior Leadership Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org
RJ Taylor, Director of Growth, email@example.com
Other Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Articles:
By Vince Fabra
Recently, I was asked, “What is your favorite word?” My response was “Philanthropy.”
I know what some of your are thinking. “C’mon. The guy that teaches values-based recruitment says his favorite word is ‘philanthropy?!’” It’s a little cliché, but I can honestly say that of all the words I know, ‘philanthropy’ is my favorite.
First of all, the phonetics of the word are beautiful. It is wonderfully constructed, rolls off the tongue perfectly and hits the ear nicely. Say it out loud… “Philanthropy.” It’s so beautiful!
Then, after adding meaning and context, the word maintains its beauty and also becomes powerful.
philanthropy: goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare
Fraternities and sororities were created to be philanthropic organizations — to actively “promote human welfare” and spread “goodwill to fellow members of the human race.”
Both as an undergrad and as a fraternity professional, I have witnessed organizations work very hard to change the meaning of my favorite word. ‘Philanthropy’ on some campuses is now synonymous with ‘competition, bitterness, drama’. With the constant flow of embarrassing news stories in the media, we can add ‘inappropriate’ and ‘misogynistic’ to the list of twisted synonyms too.
To all of my philanthropy chairs across the country, allow me to share a message with you. This is the same message I’m trying to get across to your recruitment chairs.
“Philanthropy does not equal event.” (and “Recruitment does not equal event.”)
It is fine to host philanthropy events, but the act of spreading “goodwill to fellow members of the human race” is not exclusive to dance competitions and food events. It can be done every single day with a budget of $0.00. You don’t need to reserve rooms on campus, “get the word out there”, or drive fellow organizations into a competitive frenzy over a trophy THAT DOES NOT MATTER!
All you need to do is actively promote human welfare and spread goodwill to fellow members of the human race.
However, if you feel like an event in necessary to your philanthropic efforts, by all means, I hope you plan and execute an immaculate one. But during the planning process, please continue to ask yourself and your members…
Philanthropy is still my favorite word. It still sounds beautiful. I want to thank the thousands of fraternity and sorority members that work towards preserving and restoring its true meaning —also, in the process, thanks for spreading goodwill to fellow members of the human race.
by Matt Mattson
Our friend Dr. Gentry McCreary posted a blog recently which he shared on social media with the tagline, “That day I declared the death of values-based recruitment.” Needless to say, this grabbed my attention.
Let me say up front that I agree with Gentry. The way we’ve been doing recruitment for a long time is not resulting in the organizations that many of us desire. He’s right that we (educators and fraternal professionals especially) have been talking about values-based recruitment for well over a decade. There’s a bunch of other stuff in the post that I agree with. I’m fine with killing the term “values-based recruitment” too, actually. The only people who say it are the people who are frustrated with the way recruitment is actually being done. We can call our preferred recruitment method whatever we want, as long as we remember that it’s how we DO recruitment that matters. I’m sure Gentry would agree.
The idea of putting values into recruitment is actually a pretty difficult thing to do. Recruitment is hard enough — students are busy, focused elsewhere, and don’t see recruitment as part of doing fraternity/sorority, but instead as the task that must be done so that fraternity/sorority can start. Because of those reasons and more, making the values of a values-centered organization central to the actual execution of recruitment strategies is difficult. Since it’s easier to focus on far more accessible concepts for 17/18-year-olds, our organizations do just that.
Similarly, “365 Recruitment” sounds terribly hard. But that’s another post for another day.
I’m thinking Gentry’s overall point in the blog is that instead of trying to force the “Values-Based Recruitment” education down our members’ throats, perhaps we should be more practical in what we’re trying to get fraternity/sorority members to actually do. I can dig that. (If that’s not what he meant, my apologies… but it’s what I mean.)
So, practically… what do we want?
I think we want our members to attract new members in ways to reflect the things we’re proud of about fraternity/sorority, and that set clear expectations of what it should mean to be in a fraternity/sorority.
How do we do that? Well, that’s what we’ve been working on since 2002. We’re getting closer every year. Turns out it’s kind of a complex and nuanced system with lots of levers. But here are a few recommendations, in practical terms.
I love this line from Gentry, “Stop trying to convince your students to sell their values, and start convincing them to sell the more altruistic forms of brotherhood and sisterhood. Convince them to sell how membership in their organization will provide prospective members with a sense of belonging and connection, with a group of people who will support them and have their back.”
YAAASS GURL! (Did I do that right?)
I love the research Gentry has done on brotherhood/sisterhood. To me it boils down to “how will this make my life better in ways that actually matter to me?” Does the way we do recruitment demonstrate that fraternity/sorority will make a PNM’s life better in ways that actually matter to them in their current life stage? Can we express that to PNMs in a way that inspires them to want to commit to it and share it with others? That’s probably not done by listing or “trashing” our values, but values will always remain at the center of that process.
As social animals, our primary instinct that drives so much of our behavior is the instinct to connect. For safety, security, opportunity, influence, and power. We want to connect to our tribe, our group, our family, our brotherhood/sisterhood. That’s instinctual. We want to connect with people who have shared values or values that will enhance our own current reality. That is brotherhood/sisterhood. Separating values from brotherood/sisterhood isn’t possible, but that’s also not what I think Gentry is suggesting.
I guess what I want to say most is… THANKS GENTRY! I appreciate when people poke and prod some of the outdated or bedraggled philosophies of our industry. I think talking about “values-based recruitment” and actually teaching people to recruit in a way that makes us all proud aren’t mutually exclusive, but deserve to be re-thought. One of our core values at Phired Up is Innovation. We don’t do the same old schtick for decades. We keep pushing constantly to look for new ways to teach that will get better and better results. Your recent blog post will help us do just that. Keep it up.