by Colin Nelson-Pinkston
The Alpha Theta chapter of Kappa Alpha Order at Transylvania University has been around since 1891. Even with almost a century and a half of existence under its belt, it is still possible to teach an old chapter new tricks.
Enter Harrison Bratton, a member of the Class of 2024. Harrison came to Transy and quickly got involved in multiple organizations on campus, including Kappa Alpha Order (KA). Early on, Harrison was elected to serve as the Number IV, KA’s Corresponding Secretary, which oversees membership growth. While a lot of officer transitions can be tenuous, Harrison received support from his big brother, who was the Number I, KA’s Chapter President; and through Phired Up resources that set him up for success. Harrison’s big brother initially recommended that Harrison run for the role. From there, Harrison leaned in and turned to ChapterBuilder, and Phired Up’s IFC Fraternity Recruitment Digital Classroom, to organize his chapter’s growth system. Harrison shared that ChapterBuilder “does the work for you” so he could spend more time preparing the chapter for success.
As Harrison got into his term in office, he led a few recruitment workshops focused on ChapterBuilder and the skills he learned in the IFC Digital Classroom. Harrison affirmed that dynamic recruitment combined with ChapterBuilder “makes everything so much easier compared to what other chapters do and say their recruitment experience is like.” My favorite part of the story so far is that Harrison brought other people into the growth system. Even though he oversaw recruitment, Harrison was not the only one involved in growing the chapter.
Harrison loved creating and reaping the rewards of ChapterBuilder Forms. Harrison’s predecessor used ChapterBuilder but also used a Google Form to get leads to sign up to learn more about the chapter. From there, the leads were manually entered into ChapterBuilder. Harrison found that ChapterBuilder Forms create lead profiles automatically. This was a crucial step in getting the Alpha Theta chapter to recruit smarter, and as a result, meet a higher quantity of high-quality men.
I asked Harrison what it was like taking over as the chapter’s growth officer. He shared that the way he was recruited got him excited because Harrison could set new expectations for how the chapter recruits, and take a deep dive into what recruitment should be while holding onto positive traditions. One obstacle Harrison overcame was the disengagement of older members. At Transy, Harrison said that it was normal for juniors and seniors to “take their foot off the gas” with their chapter involvement. But he kept these older members engaged by looking to them as role models. Harrison’s take was that fraternity recruitment is about sharing the membership experience, and “the people that can really show what they got out of it are seniors.” Harrison’s idea gave prospective members an inside view of what it looks like to have several years in the organization, and the growth that comes with that “mutual pledge of faith and loyalty” that the fraternity’s founders envisioned.
In the fall 2021 semester, Harrison and his growth team brought in 20 new members, which was their largest new member class in recent memory. Harrison was ecstatic because “it was a challenge that I set for myself,” and he added that “you will have your doubters as a younger leader, but being able to show the tangible result is important.” The men that Harrison’s team recruited are already stepping into leadership roles in the chapter. As a result of Harrison’s leadership, the chapter voted him in as the new chapter president. Even though Harrison now oversees more than recruitment, I asked him what he thinks a chapter president’s role should be related to growth. Harrison believes the president’s role is to support the growth team by helping the executive committee realize that recruitment is the most vital chapter goal and that growth needs to be “all hands on deck.”
Harrison has a few pieces of advice for growth teams and recruitment chairs.
Make sure you have a good relationship with other organizations in your council. In the past few years, the IFC chapters at Transy have done more to strengthen their relationships with each other. Harrison sees this playing out when getting referrals for new members. He said that a few of the chapter’s new members came from referrals in other fraternities. Think about that. How many of us have asked our friends in other chapters, “who do you think would make a good member of my chapter?” That is some next-level growth thinking.
Consistency is key. When trying to recruit a larger number of people, having everyone involved and bought in with the goal is easier when the message and goal are consistent.
Set goals and have an accountability partner. Harrison’s accountability partner was his chapter president. Harrison told the president his goals and asked that the president hold him accountable for achieving them. Harrison shared that writing down his goals was the easy part. Still, the harder part is accomplishing them, and having members holding him accountable helped.
The final piece of advice Harrison offered was, “don’t be afraid to push buttons that get members to change their thinking from ‘we’ve always done it this way.” Even in a 131-year-old chapter, there is still room to innovate.
If you want to push a few new buttons to innovate in your growth system, I would love to help you do it! To get started, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can move your chapter toward reaching its growth goals!