Does That Event Really Work?

[RING OF PHIRE: The Ring of Phire is a team of undergraduate fraternity and sorority members dedicated to delivering the messages of Phired Up Productions to their peers around the country.]

by Steve Pasidora, Ring of Phire Member

Recruitment—aside from the actual communication with prospective members—is largely about assessing the value of recruitment methods and challenging those that are not working.

For two years, before I became my chapter’s recruitment chairman, we would hold a large and esteemed Super Bowl Party to kick off the beginning of the new semester.  Though alcohol-free, the party still required quite a bit of planning and organization.  Men would travel to sororities weeks before the big weekend to invite the women over.  “We would really appreciate your attendance at our Annual Super Bowl Party,” someone from my chapter would say—dressed in a suit and carrying a bouquet of roses. “We will be inviting a bunch of prospective members, so we want a bunch of ladies there to help us recruit them.”

Some would plan ahead and order enough hot wings, sandwiches, and beverages for everyone. Others were in charge of finding four of the biggest TVs around so that there was enough room for everyone to watch. 

Everyone would panic because the women would show up late; meanwhile, all 120 members and the four prospective guys we convinced to come would sit around awkwardly, texting to make sure the women were still coming. There were hardly any prospects there because everyone we knew was already a member. 

When the girls finally arrived, the recruitment chairman would stand on a chair and point to each guy that was visiting and introduce him to the group. Although the focus of the event was to meet the potential new members, this was always challenged by the laughter from funny commercials on TV.  Meanwhile, Big Al would dip into the food table and grab his own bucket of wings.  Food was at a premium after kick off.  Though we all wanted to meet the new guys, no one could spare a moment during the excitement of the intense game. 

“None of them fit in,” someone would say at chapter meeting the next week. “They were all quiet and didn’t seem to make an effort.”

After all was said and done, we had spent $1,200 on food and had to reimburse someone for a broken TV.  No new members signed their bid cards, and we were left scratching our heads wondering where all the good guys were on our campus.

Recruitment, as I said, is all about assessing that which is not or is no longer working.  In dissolving our “Big Event,” we created a names list of the men who we would have invited over.  We took recruits out to group dinners and brought them around our chapter house to show them what daily life was like in our chapter.  In that one semester, we doubled the number of signatures we normally received and saved nearly $1,000 in doing so. 

Challenge your chapter’s current methods!  Just because it’s what you have always done, doesn’t mean it will always work.

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