Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Let's Make 2014 the Year of the Member (Part 1)

There is a good chance your campus or headquarters (or both) requires large amounts of documents to ensure chapters are performing up to a required minimum standard. I would like to begin by saying that I am not suggesting your chapter throw that process out the window.

BUT if I were a betting man, I would bet your chapter spends more time making sure the minimum required attendance was met at the educational programs you put on than actually making sure the quality of that program was benefitting your members.

Look at the mission of your organization. Odds are, it is about making men better men or women better women. To prove this, I did a quick Google Search and the first ten organizations that popped up (belonging to a variety of different umbrella groups) have missions that serve their members, not their chapters. Not one that I looked up used the word “chapters.”  So why are you focusing so much on doing things for the chapter and not for the members?

Now you’re probably thinking, “If the chapter is strong, then the members will grow too.”

This is true only if you are making the chapter strong for the sake of the members it serves. If you are focusing on making your organization strong to check boxes off a list and not for the benefit of members, then you are not only skipping the best interest of members, but your constant emphasis on attendance at a crappy program is annoying people too.

So now what? 
We are all just getting back to campus and beginning to plan formals, brotherhood/sisterhood events, and community service. So when you are doing all this, let’s shift the focus from the “what” to the “who” and the “why.”  Once these become the central focus, you will not only be better serving the original vision of your founders, but you will also have happier members. And who doesn’t love when members are happy?

Making the plan
Most of you are planning some kind of retreat in the next couple of weeks that will consist of your exec board, the whole chapter, maybe some advisors, or whoever else has a stake in the group’s success. In the past, you probably used these minimum requirements to plan for your entire year, and you should. Don’t let your renewed focus put you in bad standing. This year, however, you are going to spend a little more time making sure that planning reflects the interests of your members. We'll tell you how in part two.

This guest blog is the first in a two-part series by Steve Backer. Steve is in his second year of graduate school studying Higher Education Administration at Southeast Missouri State University where he serves as the Graduate Assistant to Fraternities and Sororities. Connect with him on Twitter at @Stevewithaph. 

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