By Matt Mattson
We’ve been in this fraternity/sorority business a while, and I’m proud of the impact we’ve made. Many of our friends and colleagues in the industry often ask us, “So, what’s next?” I love that question.
Obviously, when Phired Up purchased a marketing company and created a technology company last year, that was a pretty major step forward. But we’re never satisfied. With Jessica Gendron Williams as your CEO, you can’t be satisfied. She won’t allow it. I love that about her. She’s pushing our team to create and innovate as always.
When “innovation” is a core value of your company, you have to ask, “What’s Next?” a lot.
I don’t really know for sure “What’s Next” for the fraternity/sorority world, but I’ll make some guesses.
- Our fraternity/sorority world will start to find brilliant applications for newly available data. We know more about our members, and more importantly, about our potential members than ever before. We have access to their life’s records on social media. We use smarter technology to manage our recruitment processes so we know far more about HOW people are joining and HOW our organizations are growing than we’ve ever known before. This data will change our entire fraternity/sorority world.
- Our members will get tired of doing things that don’t work, because they’re used to things that do work. If you download an app on your phone, and it doesn’t work, you move on. If you plan recruitment events that don’t work — well, for decades we’ve just repeated them over and over. This new generation of college students won’t stand for that. They’ll seek proven methods that actually work and utilize them.
- Our relationship with race and ethnicity will change. All the research about “Generation Z” is suggesting that their view of race and gender is far more blended than generations before them. Our organizations will need to become more intentionally inclusive. Our culturally-based groups will become even more relevant and important, and the way we think about “historically _____” organizations will be challenged in the near future.
- Our organizations will expand beyond traditional 4-year American institutions. Community colleges, other continents, alumni/adult-student groups, etc. The demographics of today’s college students combined with a far more global citizenship and drastically changing economics for college students will demand an altered expansion strategy.
- Our organizations will need to show some results. What tangible ways are we making the lives of our members better throughout their lifespan? What meaningful impact are we actually having on our communities? The organizations that are already able to show these results (and there are a few) are separating themselves from the pack quickly. Being a “general social fraternity/sorority” probably won’t cut it for much longer.
- Our organizations will shift their focus to PRE-MEMBERSHIP. Assertively seeking and carefully selecting only high quality, low-risk members to carry on our fraternal legacy will make more of an impact on risk-management problems, public relations problems, retention problems, dues collection problems, and all the rest of our problems than decades of educational programming has made. While fraternal organizations will always provide the most powerful educational and developmental opportunity available on a college campus, inter/national organizations will start to manage their risk by requiring more proof of moral and social responsibility before someone receives a bid.
I have some other thoughts, but I’ll stop at 6 wild predictions for the future of fraternity/sorority life. Some of my other ideas are a little cynical, admittedly — gluten free chapters, parents rooms in chapter houses, and republican vs. democratic umbrella groups. Mostly though, I’m hopeful for our industry. We are evolving. We are advancing. We are innovating.
I’m proud that Phired Up is working every day to play a small role in the continual innovation of our movement.