Set a Goal

Here’s a quick thing you can do over summer vacation that has the potential to have an immense impact on your organization next year.

Set a goal…

If you’ve been witness to a successful expansion effort on your campus, than you already understand the power of a goal. Every single colony member is working towards the common goal of becoming a chartered chapter of their fraternity or sorority. This shared goal allows the colony to move forward as one collective unit with a common purpose.

Establishing a common goal within your chapter will give your members a benchmark for success. It is a great way to rally the troops around a common cause; the betterment of your chapter.

Think of all of the goals your chapter could set for itself, here’s some examples to get your mind working:

– In addition to the freshman we recruit, we want to have 20 students accept bids this year who are sophomores, juniors or seniors.

– We want to have the most service hours per member out of any fraternity/sorority on our campus (Or, raise the most money for philanthropy).

– We want to improve our overall GPA by 0.2 points.

– We want to increase our alumni donations by 25%.

– We want to receive our National HQ and/or Universities highest chapter honor.

So have you started to think of goals you can set for you chapter? Awesome! But before you set this goal into place, here’s some tips:

– Your goal should span the duration of a semester or the year. Winning Greek Week, or intramural softball is not what I’m talking about.

– Think S.M.A.R.T. with your goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).

– You need to campaign for your cause. Before you present your goal at the first chapter meeting of the year, talk with your brothers/sisters over the summer in order to gain their support. Remember, this needs to be a shared goal.

So what goals do you think your organization should adopt? Make sure to leave your ideas in the comments!

Post to Twitter

What IFC & NPC Needs to Teach NPHC & MGC

In my last blog post, What NPHC & MGC Needs to Teach IFC & NPC, I explained some of the things that I feel NPHC and MGC (NALFO/NAPA ) organizations are doing exceptionally well. Hopefully, IFC and NPC members reading the post were able to gain a new perspective on those particular elements of their chapter operations.

Little did I know, that post would get picked up on Twitter, and become my most viewed post to date. So, as to not keep you waiting anymore, I present some of the things that NPHC and MGC council members and chapters could learn from their counterparts in IFC and NPC.

Targeted Recruitment
Recruitment might as well be a four letter word in the NPHC/MGC community. NPHC and MGC organizations rely on their prestige and prominence on campus coupled with their national reputation in order to attract members to their organization. By the way, this is recruitment, it’s just being done in a different way. In my personal opinion, and in my experience, NPHC and MGC chapters fail to reach out to the preeminent leaders on campus, and instead, only rely on those interests who show up to their events.

In the IFC/NPC world, we talk about always-joiners, never-joiner, and maybe-joiners. Check out the chart below for the break down of the types of prospective members on your campus.

When NPHC and MGC chapters rely solely on members seeking them out, they are only reaching out to the fifteen percent of the campus population that already knows they want to join a fraternity or sorority. Those fifteen percent are often-times only looking for a good-time, and end up being the ones who cause the most of the problems for the chapter.

The best IFC and NPC chapters actively seek out leaders on their campus who they know share their core values and will contribute to the betterment of the chapter. More so, they have developed a variety of methods to attract these individuals (scholarships, co-sponsorship of events, service projects, etc.). NPHC and MGC could take a tip from IFC and NPC organizations by identifying leaders on campus, and simply inviting them to start becoming engaged with the chapter.

Celebrate Success
Our IFC and NPC chapters take tremendous pride in the various accolades they receive. Their chapters their hardest to win Greek Week and/or intramurals, take home awards at the annual Greek awards ceremony, and receive recognition from their national organization as an outstanding chapter. On a council level, IFC and NPC councils fight for regional recognition through the AFLV Awards process (at which NPHC and MGC councils are grossly underrepresented).

More importantly than walking away with some nice hardware and bragging rights, this common goal galvanizes the organization together in an effort to achieve a specific positive outcome. It’s this competitive spirit and drive for recognition that helps IFC and NPC chapters and councils constantly improve.

NPHC and MGC organizations need to celebrate their successes in the public light. Despite often having smaller numbers than their IFC and NPC compatriots, they are certainly doing work worthy of recognition. So find some sort of recognition program that is important to  your chapter and take the time to fill out those applications; you just may be surprised when you realize how good it feels to win.

There are plenty of other ways IFC and NPC could help NPHC and MGC, but in the interest of conciseness, I’ll stop it here. Do you have some suggestions of your own? Make sure you leave a comment!

Post to Twitter

What NPHC & MGC Needs to Teach IFC & NPC

Some of the most enlightening conversations that I have been able to witness occur when members of separate councils sit down to talk about the way that they operate as a chapter and/or council. Although we all have shared values, and face many of the same struggles, we often operate extremely differently.

I have seen women from National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council (NAPA, NALFO, etc.) chapters stare perplexed as a National Panhellenic Council woman tries to tell them about their formal recruitment process. Conversely, Interfraternity Council men and Panhellenic women are often confused as to exactly what their counterparts in the NPHC and MGC communities are up to.

This blog post will make the case for three things that NPHC and MGC chapters are doing right, and as such, need to be teaching our IFC and NPC organizations.

Chapter Collaboration:
Attend any major NPHC/MGC event, and you will almost undoubtedly see members from that organization wearing letters or paraphernalia who you have never seen before. This is because they are members from other colleges and universities in the area who came to your campus in order to support their brothers and sisters. Because of their smaller chapter size at many institutions, NPHC and MGC chapters make incredible use of the support that is offered to them by other chapters in the state and/or region.

IFC and NPC chapters could learn a thing or two from this type of collaboration. Far too seldom do IFC and NPC chapters reach out to other chapters in a collaborative effort. If you’ve ever attended a workshop or conference with other chapters and/or organizations, then you should already know that other chapters are an amazing resource for new ideas. IFC and NPC chapters can utilize chapters in their areas for new ideas related to campus programming, socials, working with your national philanthropy and/or initiatives, and chapter structure and managements. Additionally, opportunities to collaborate exist in the areas of community service and philanthropy, leadership development, and much more.

Lifelong Commitment:
Another thing that NPHC and MGC organizations do extremely well is instilling a lifelong commitment to the organization. Members choosing to join these organizations know full well that upon graduation they will be expected to remain active within the organization on the local/regional/state/national level.

Unfortunately, far too often within our IFC and NPC organizations, we here the phrase “I was in a fraternity/sorority when I was in college” or “I was in Alpha Alpha Alpha during my undergraduate years”. The only reason that any fraternity or sorority member should ever use these phrases is if they chose to leave, or were removed from their respective organization. IFC and NPHC chapters need to take a tip from NPHC and MGC organizations and instill this commitment before a bid is handed out. Potential new members need to fully comprehend the life-long decision they are making when they choose to accept a bid into your organization. Instilling this commitment will bring you truly dedicated new members that will transition into passionate, committed leaders within your organization as well as active, contributing alumni.

Respecting Organization History:
Here’s a quick experiment, walk up to the first 10 NPHC or MGC members that you can find; ask them to about their founders, and the history of the organization. Now do the same to the first 10 IFC or NPC members that you meet. I can promise you that without a doubt, every single NPHC and MGC members can name all of their founders, their founding principles, and provide you with a strong overview of their organizations history. I would not be so sure that would be the same for our average IFC and NPC members.

IFC and NPC members; have you ever noticed that NPHC and MGC organizations refuse to wear their letters in any color other than those established by their national organizations? Do you think it’s weird that they won’t let you put their letters or crest on your Greek Week shirt? Well, that’s because they place a special value upon the outward representations of their organization. I find it disconcerting when I see IFC and NPC chapters who buy their letters, or make their t-shirts in every color of the rainbow besides those established by their founding members. I understand the desire to stand out, be different, and have the coolest looking gear; but when you wear colors completely alien to your organization, you lose a piece of your organizations identity for which your founders worked diligently and deliberately to establish.

In addition, you will never, ever, EVER see a non-member of an NPHC or MGC organization wearing that organizations letters, crest, drop, tiki, etc., unless the national organization has a policy which allows for it under specific circumstances. So to my IFC men and NPC women, think twice before making that sweetheart shirt, or giving your best guy/gal a lavalier. When in doubt, talk to your national organization, and ask them what their policy is on non-members wearing your letters, logo, and crests. </rant>

Through these three areas in particular, our IFC and NPC chapters could learn a lot from NPHC and MGC chapters. If you are a member of and IFC or NPC chapter, take the time to talk with fraternity men and women from outside of your councils. Learn what they are doing well, and how you can implement these successes from within your chapter. If you are a member of an NPHC or MGC organization, feel free to share these successes, and explain why it is that you do certain things differently. Also, wait for my next post for ideas you could learn from IFC and NPC chapters.

Have a comment? Feel free to leave it here.

Post to Twitter

What Betty White Can Teach You About Fraternity and Sorority Life.

So I’m a big fan of Betty White. I have been ever since my high school girlfriend and I used to watch her flawless portrayal of Rose Nylund on reruns of “The Golden Girls” on Lifetime (Television for Women, and sucker boyfriends).

I watched cautiously as Jay Leno maliciously tried to kill Betty White via heart attack with his game “Will This Make Betty White Flinch?”.

I immediately hopped on the “Betty White to Host SNL” Facebook bandwagon in support of this octogenarians next comeback. As fun as it was to support her bid, it was even better to see her kill as the host of a great episode. Needless to say, Betty White has still got it.

So just what can Betty White teach us about fraternity and sorority life? Let me give you some details…

Before her role on “The Golden Girls”, Betty played Sue Ann Nivens, the quick witted, sassy, and man-crazy co-star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. As a result, she was offered the role of Blanche Devereaux, a similarly man-crazy and sassy character on “The Golden Girls”. Betty White, not wanting to be type-cast, chose to switch roles with her co-star Rue McClanahan, who was slated to play Rose.

Betty wanted to expand upon what she had already created. She could have been perfectly happy playing the same role all over again; it was familiar, it would be easy, and it is what people expected. As fraternity and sorority members, it is very easy for us to simply repeat last years events, and hope that they’ll end up bigger and better than last year. Your chapter may even be pigeon-holed as “the jocks”, “the pretty girls”, “the academics”, “the artists” or any other stereotype. Don’t allow your organization to fall into a rut, or to be typecast as only catering to a specific segment of the campus population. Have the foresight to expand what it means to be a part of your organization, as well as the limitations of what your organization can do.

According to Wikipedia, “White is a pet enthusiast and animal health advocate who works with a number of animal organizations, including the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, the Morris Animal Foundation, and Actors & Others for Animals. Her interest in animal rights and welfare began in the early 1970s, while she was both producing and hosting the syndicated series, The Pet Set, which spotlighted celebrities and their pets.”

Like many of our chapters, Betty makes sure to find the time to incorporate service into her incredibly busy schedule. More importantly, through her work, Betty was able to find a cause that was of particular importance to her. Many fraternity and sorority members view service as a chore, a mandate from nationals, and/or a necessary public relations tool. For those of us who have been truly impacted by a particular cause, it is easy to explain why we enjoy devoting countless hours helping others. Allow your organization to find a cause that is of particular importance to your members; this could be your national philanthropy, your school’s philanthropy, or another cause that your members truly care about. To do service right, your heart needs to be in it.

Despite the great work she has done for animals, Betty doesn’t want to be called an activist. In her own words, “You know what the problem that animal activists sometimes have? They only concentrate on the heartbreaking things to the point where the general public think, ‘Oh, here comes those animal folks again and I’m going to hear all the things I don’t want to hear.’ They forget to celebrate all the gains that we’ve made. … Sure, there are still big problems, but we’re making some good moves. I’m a big cockeyed optimist. I try to accentuate the positive as opposed to the negative.”

If you are doing it right, membership in a fraternity or sorority is amazingly life-changing stuff. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of negative stories floating around about us, and the media never seems to talk about the good things that we are doing. We can only do so much with our words. Writing letters to the editor and posting responses on news stories has about the same effectiveness as PETA members standing on a street corner passing out pamphlets. If you really want to change the way people see your organization, do it through action. Let the public see you truly living your values everyday. Instead of complaining about unfair stereotypes, get out there and change them yourself! To translate Betty’s words, “Sure we still have big problems, but we’re making some big moves. Be an optimist; accentuate the positive by dispelling the negative”.

Betty’s got her first performing gig in 1939, and has been entertaining the masses ever since.

Betty made a commitment. She has spent over 70 years working on her craft. As fraternity and sorority members, we make a life-long commitment to serving our organizations. Do not let your fraternity or sorority experience end on graduation day.

Hopefully I’ve given you a little bit of an insight to my appreciation of Betty White, and got you thinking a little bit while doing it. Feel free to leave a comment.

Post to Twitter

Summer Fun: Regional Reunions

So you made it through another school year, Congrats!!

Summer has finally arrived. For the next four months, your going to be abandoning your normal routine of classes, work, and typical chapter activities (i.e. meetings, events, socials, service, etc.). You have a litany of options facing you as you plan out your summer; you can live at home, stay at school, travel abroad, complete an internship, take summer classes, work, or just relax and enjoy your time off.

This interruption in your regular routine has the potential to pull your attention away from your chapter, and your campus’ fraternity and sorority community. I propose that you take action, and reunite your chapter and/or your entire Greek community this summer to reinvigorate your passion for fraternity and sorority life.

Put simply, plan a regional reunion this summer that brings fraternity and/or sorority members together to demonstrate our shared values, and keep this thing we call fraternity and sorority at the front of everyone’s mind.

What Does This Look Like?

Regional reunions can be a simple get together between two brothers/sisters, or an elaborate event bringing together mass amounts of individuals from a variety of chapters. Here are just a few examples of what you can do this summer:

Plan a Lunch Date: So you know that brother/sister in your chapter that just joined this semester, and it wasn’t until weeks later that you found out that he/she is from your hometown? Or maybe it’s the guy or girl from another chapter that you went to elementary school, or high school with. Regardless of whether this person is your best friend, or if they’re someone you haven’t really talked to much, getting together can be a great opportunity. Here’s some helpful questions to ask when you meet up:

What was your favorite thing your chapter did last year?
What are you most proud of accomplishing for your chapter?
What chapter event are you most looking forward to next year?
What is your chapter’s biggest issue right now?
What is your future within the chapter and/or fraternity and sorority community?

Use this opportunity to recharge your Greek battery; get excited for next semester, and plan how you can make a personal impact on your fraternity and sorority community.

Organize a Day of Fun: What fun stuff are you planning on doing this summer? Wouldn’t it be cool if you got to do them with your brothers/sisters or other Greeks? You can go to the beach, go to an amusement park, play golf, go shopping, go to the movies, visit a museum or art gallery (I’ll stop now but you get the idea).

Use this opportunity to reconnect with fraternity and sorority members outside of the traditional campus environment. Make new friendships, strengthen preexisting ones, but most of all, just have fun being Greek!

Organize a Day of Service: Summer break offers you the time to step away from your hectic schedule. It does now, however offer us the opportunity to step away from our values. A service event is a great way to bring together fraternity and sorority members in an outward display of our shared commitment to service. If you have the luxury, work with your local alumni/graduate chapters, as this is a great opportunity for collaboration.

Use this opportunity to show the community our shared values, while bringing together members of all ages and affiliations to proudly show our shared values.

It starts with you.

All of these things are great to talk about, but it takes an individual with commitment and determination to actually get them done.

Most likely, you don’t know every single fraternity or sorority member who will happen to be in the same town as you this summer. Right this minute, you can work to change that. I suggest creating a Facebook group for the sole purpose of organizing the Greeks in your area. This group page will allow individuals to connect, and plan events in your area this summer. Invite everyone you know to join, even if they won’t be living close to you (it may inspire them to do the same for their area).

Regional reunions provide you with a unique opportunity to connect with your chapter members in an environment away from school. It also gives you the opportunity to connect with members from other chapters to build and enhance fraternal bonds. Take the initiative today to incorporate your fraternity and sorority experience into your summer plans.

Can you think of another way to have a regional reunion? Make sure to leave a comment for other to read!

Post to Twitter