When it comes to creating any brand or identity having a vision for your brand is so important. In the case of sorority life I am going to show you how to refine your sororities vision so that you have a clear idea of where you and your sisters are headed as you prepare for recruitment. This will help you become more savvy and efficient when it comes to recruitment. I know everyone has a limited recruitment budget, so it's important to work smarter, not harder.
Creating Your sorority's Vision
Understanding your sororities vision is so important. This is a collaborative effort that will take your officer team as well as your chapter members. You need to work on crafting your sorority vision so that it will be easier to understand where members fit into the equation. When only a handful of members agree or know about your sorority vision it becomes really difficult to actually get anything done. You always want to make sure that everyone is on board so this process can go from vision to fruition.
Where Is Your Chapter Now?
Assessment of current membership is needed to grow into anything bigger or better. You need to address all sections of your membership from the officer team to the newest member to see where the problems are. I would suggest sending out a link to an anonymous survey that your sisters can fill out about their time within the sorority. You probably have some ideas about where the problems are, so sending out this survey will help clarify. Ask targeted questions, but also have some open-ended questions as well. Encourage your members to be detailed and open about their experience within the chapter. This is a place for them to not hold back (while obviously at the same time not being overly rude.) Let them know that the officer team will be considering all of their input and making changes as well as preparing for changes in the future.
It's also a good idea to actually condense some of the information and share that with your members. Obviously remove any names, dates, or things that don't need to be shown to all the members. It's hard to answer a survey and not get at least a summary of the responses back. So be open, and don't just use this information amongst the officer team. People talk about the positive sides of Greek life a lot, but never a lot about the negative ones while they are Greek. Knowing other people in the sorority feel the same way that they do might help a lot of your members cope with being in the sorority.
Where Do You See Yourself In 1 Year, 5 Years, 10 Years?
Your sorority needs a number of different goals. The most important and relatable set of goals to your members is obviously the goal for where you want to be in a year. Most members won't be in the chapter 5 years or 10 years from now, but it is still important to make those goals. What legacy do you want to leave behind? Obviously goals will probably be updated, abandoned, or changed slightly as the sorority or the school changes, but having those goals to look forward to is still important.
Make sure all your goals are smart. In case you don't know what SMART Goals are, I have a handy graphic that I made for this very occasion.
Here are some potential smart goals:
- We will raise our GPA by .5 by August 2018
- We will do this by:
- Increasing our library hours by 2 hours a week.
- Setting up a system of tutors within the sorority by next fall.
- Making education a value we focus on during recruitment and on social media for the upcoming recruitment cycle so that we recruit women who share our educational values.
- We will do this by:
- We will raise our retention rate by 10% by September 2018
- We will do this by:
- Having a New Member Support system set up by Fall 2016
- Moving our big/little week up by 2 weeks
- Setting up a temporary big/little program to start in Fall 2016
- Finding a way to locate new members who are at a high-risk of dropping out and providing them with extra resources or extra contact people.
- We will do this by:
These goals above are just some goals that I thought of off the top of my head. You need to break down your goals into actionable steps along the way. You could honestly break down each of these sub-goals into tinier pieces as well.
Know Who Is Responsible For The Goal
Not everything will be appointed to the recruitment chair. The recruitment chair might have a good amount of say when it comes to these things, but they obviously can't execute every detail and still be good at recruiting members. Other members of the officer team, chairwomen, and even the members themselves need to step up and get these tasks done. Someone needs to be the go-to contact for a goal that you set. Then they can delegate tasks as appropriate. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
Evaluation is Key
Sometimes we set goals and we think our subgoals are actually helping us achieve them. Or we are not following through with our subgoals. For example, in the example above one of my subgoals in the education goal was to “Make education a value we focus on during recruitment and on social media for the upcoming recruitment cycle.” Once we do that, we need to evaluate its effectiveness. Poll your new members, did they actually think that education was something you valued a lot? Evaluate your social media, did you post enough about education during recruitment season? Think back to your recruitment materials, did you mention enough about education in those documents and videos?
If you could say yes to all of the above things but you aren't seeing any groundbreaking on your goals, try to evaluate the subgoals you set. Do they really help you as much as you think they do? Are these the right goals for actually achieving what you set out to achieve? Just because your subgoal didn't work out, don't give up! Trial and error is key to understanding and refining your sororities vision.
What Word Do You Want People To Think When They Think Of Your Sorority?
A simple question to ask your members as you are crafting your vision is: what word do you want people to think of when they think of your sorority? You can think of a few words if you want to, but you don't have to. Do you want to be known for your smarts, ability to talk to anyone, accepting nature, etc? This is a very important conversation to have with your sorority. You have to make sure your ideal girl will be this word, and you have to make sure that this ideal word is reflected in all of your recruitment efforts.
What Values/Vision Does Your National Organization Have?
Values and vision for your chapter are great, but they also need to align with your national organization (if you have one.) Your National Organization provides so many amazing resources centered around a particular set of values/vision. You don't want to start from scratch on this when you can use the resources they have for you. So if your sororities values nationally are faith, hope, and love don't have opposite values or too many extra values that your sorority doesn't always use in their program.
In Tri Sigma our National Headquarters gives us a lot of great support, programming ideas, and more through our Sigma Connect website. This is so helpful and has hundreds of ideas for just about every aspect of sorority life. By using the amazing resources they have spent tons of money to develop and implement Tri Sigma chapters all across the country can work a bit less because of that. Refining your vision and what it means for your particular chapter is important, but it's also important to keep in mind your national organization and how it fits into all of your planning.
Most of all, be open & clear With Your Members
With any direction that you decide to take your chapter in the future, I am going to stress this: be open with your members! I guarantee you that you aren't the only one who wants to help bring your sororities vision to life, some people just need a little more direction than others. Ten sisters can't effectively run a sorority. It might work for a little while, but eventually it gets a little out of hand and sisters get burned out. If you want to take your vision from an idea to execution you have to involve all of your sisters in that process. If you are only depending on 10 sisters to get something done, it can be done in such a less stressful and better way.