Let me just throw this out there: Rush sucks.
It is exhausting, expensive and time-consuming. Most importantly it is used as a crutch by many chapters, relying on potential new members to come to us rather than seeking out the top men on campus. Should we do away with rush? Of course not. Rush is a great opportunity to introduce potential new members that you have been year-round recruiting as well as showcase the fraternity to men that are first considering fraternity membership. However, rush should be the icing on the cake, not the end all be all. Similarly, the amount of time the chapter spends focused on rush should proportionate to other methods of recruitment.
Unquestionably, every campus and Greek community is different. However, here are some time-tested recruitment tactics that if used will yield positive results:
Discuss recruitment weekly – If your recruitment chairman has no report after rush, you’re blowing it. Recruitment should be discussed weekly. Whether it is discussing potential new members, upcoming small-group activities, or even ideas for rush the next semester/term, you have to keep recruitment relevant. The weekly recruitment discussions should be supplemented by recruitment committee meetings where the overarching recruitment plan is discussed in depth. This committee will also help the recruitment chairman manage the chapter wish list and plan recruitment activities and events.
Ask for referrals – If you need to grow your wish list, just ask. During the summer, send out emails to all chapter and area alumni asking for names of students they might know are or will be attending your college. After every sorority has taken a pledge class, visit each sorority and ask them for referrals of the top men on campus they know that should be in a fraternity. Bring flowers and consider offering a prize such as a formal dinner for the sorority that offers the most referrals. On one expansion project, our expansion team has received over 400 referrals from seven sororities. The colony ended up holding a dinner with every chapter. I guess it was a win-win situation…
Get involved – Do you have members who say they don’t know any potential new members? Of course you do. There is a good chance that these guys are not involved in another orgazation on campus. I would recommend that you make it a requirement that all members are involved in one other student organization on campus. The more organizations your chapter members are involved in, the larger your prospect pool. Have your members bring in the rosters from their other organizations and share the names of all the members who should be Phis.
Scout! – Top sports teams don’t wait until draft day to narrow their search for new team members. They begin the search years in advance to the big day and look for men that will compliment their program. Why don’t we do this? The scouting for the top Phi prospects begins today. Go to your campus website, search student organizations, and add the names and emails of every male non-Greek student organization leader to the wish list. I would recommend club sports, student government, campus newspaper, resident advisers, new-student orientation, faith-based, and business-oriented organizations. Discuss these names with chapter members and have people who know them invite them to coffee or lunch with a member of your recruitment committee. If no one knows them, it’s time for the recruitment committee to make first contact. Once you recruit the leader of a group, there is a good chance other will follow. Don’t beleive me? Just ask the 60+ Founding Fathers at San Diego State…
Know your product – It is great to talk about Neil Armstrong, Lou Gehrig, and Burt Reynolds but how do those guys benefit our potential new members? Take time to make a list of the things in your chapter that benefit your members. Supplement that list with other benefits of membership provided through the Fraternity’s Foundation and General Headquarters. Discussing things like leadership conferences, online networking, member-development webinars, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars given out in scholarships to members of Phi Delta Theta. It also helps to know statistics. Did you know that 230,000+ men have been initiated into Phi Delt, we have 115+ alumni clubs, and nearly 169 chapters and colonies? If you didn’t, there is a good chance that neither did your potential new members.
Read dummy! – There are few people that naturally are good fraternity recruiters. For the rest of us, there are books and websites that can actually teach you how to be better recruiters. Visiting websites like www.recruitordie.com or www.phiredup.com for online recruitment resources. Read books like Mattson and Orendi’s Good Guys and Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People for additional advice.
Try some of these out and see what works. If it doesn’t work right away, go back to the drawing board and figure out how it could. Once you have it figured write it down! Every chapter should have a detailed, written-recruitment program to pass down to each successive recruitment chairman.
Dustin Struble is a 2006 graduate from California State University, Chico where he served as IFC President, Order of Omega President, and was a student government officer. Dustin joined the GHQ staff in 2007, originally as a consultant for the Northeast Region. In 2008, he took over as Director of Expansion overseeing the growth of all colonies and interest groups of the Fraternity. Following his time in Oxford, Dustin intends to pursuit a Masters Degree in Higher Education. Dustin enjoys running, reading, karaoke, and In-N-Out Burger.