Rebuilding a Shriking IFC

Rebuilding a Shrinking IFC

by Matt Farrell

The UC Davis IFC has been steadily declining over the last several years. Recruitment Kickoff used to be a crowded room, and last year the empty seats were hard not to notice. Even worse, there was no data to share exactly how rapidly the interest was declining.

After last year’s challenges, the IFC worked with Phired Up and TechniPhi to make some short and long term changes. Fast forward to earlier this year: Close to 200 men joined the UC Davis IFC through formal recruitment alone, and kickoff was over double last year’s attendance. Kickoff was an amazing event and I was lucky to get to be there!

My feedback call with IFC President Nick Elliott-Smith (a member of Sigma Chi) and Advisor Payton Gates (member of Chi Omega) provided a great way to share this growth story with other IFCs.20

Creating A Growth Infrastructure

Nick: The reason I wanted to be President was to fix the stigma that IFC didn’t do much. We really wanted to 1) have analytics and 2) increase interest in the community. I wanted to set the precedent for boards to come that if we put in effort, we’ll have numbers to show it. I think CampusDirector helped a lot and helped our numbers go up this year, and more importantly we can measure it now so all the work we did this year will not go to waste.

Payton: A large concern coming into this year was how we can replace a third of our community about to graduate. We really had no structure in the recruitment process. I saw a need for more structure and tangible data and not just guesses of who is coming and joining.

One Clear Goal

Nick: Everything about our strategy focused on getting guys to Kickoff and using Phired Up to make the event better. We knew we could make it impactful together and not just a lecture. So it was all about just getting people there.

Why Did Marketing Go So Much Better this Year?

Nick: Well we didn’t table last year (laughs). Actually being a friend to people walking by first was our strategy. We knew that everyone else on the quad on our campus is shouting “join this, join that” so all we had to do was be different. It really was all about just being their friend before we met them. We got at least 50 guys by taking advantage of quality conversations with strangers on the Quad and stressing our excitement to have them come to kickoff.

Not Your Typical PNM Orientation

Nick: The Phired Up icebreaker conversations, I think those were great for getting the nervous energy out of the room at kickoff. Working together so IFC got to speak on our actual experience. I think it’s really cool to show what we’ve done and not just a list of facts. I had a lot of guys coming up to me afterwards and thanking me for sharing my story.

Payton: I thought the small group huddles with IFC and PNMs were impactful. This was one of the best things we planned with Phired Up; I could tell the PNMs were comfortable asking questions in the casual setting and they were so much more energetic talking to chapters afterwards than last year.

Future Adjustments

Nick: We could prepare a bit more to educate them about our community. We would probably take away one icebreaker to have more time for that.

Payton: Definitely adding more on CampusDirector. We want to make sure PNMs know how to log in, how to accept their bid, right from the beginning. We want to prepare the board a little more for the small group huddles. Certain personalities can be harder for people to keep conversation going.

New Manpower for the IFC

Nick: We always struggle to get freshmen right away with the academics here, and this year our chapter personally had much more success. I think we did a good job of debunking the stigmas at kickoff rather than ignoring them like we did in the past, and that led to better conversations. I really think it carried over. PNMs didn’t feel as much of a need to put on the facade with us.

Payton: Based on all the meetings I’ve had with Presidents since then, I’d echo all of that. Our new members feel more confidence.

What To Build Next?

Nick: We definitely like the idea of IFC ambassadors, I think that would also help with tabling. It was a huge success for us but we know if we get more guys out to do it, it will be good for their resume and our numbers.

Payton: We like the idea of marketing towards our emerging leaders. Our main focus during recruitment is getting to more people to join the IFC community but we also think it could be used to market what IFC does internally to existing emerging leaders in the community. This could help our partnership with Phired Up come alive for more people at UC Davis.