One of the most influential experiences of my college career was being involved in leadership in my fraternity. Lessons learned in the chapter room grossly outweighed the lessons learned in the classroom – because nothing prepares you for the real world quite like managing young adults. As a former fraternity President, Vice-President of Finance, and Judicial Board Chair – the situations, and people I encountered served as a sandbox for executive level training well before most people my age have their first internship. Whether you are a newly elected member of your executive board or a veteran incumbent, you stand in a unique position to make positive and lasting difference in your organization and your community. With Greek life as a whole standing in front of the proverbial firing squad you also have an opportunity to shape national perception of Greek life for the better. After an extensive review of my experiences and the experiences of other influencers in the Greek system nationwide, I have codified 5 ways to make a positive and lasting difference in your fraternity or sorority.
Establish a Vision Statement
In the words of Simon Sinek “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” In his infamous TED Talk and critically acclaimed book “Start with Why,” Sinek describes how successful organizations have a foundational statement by which all decisions are made. For example, Google’s vision statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Every business decision Google makes is chalked up to this statement and analyzed to ensure that they complement one another.
Why integrate a vision statement into your Greek organization? A well-written vision statement acts as a cornerstone for all chapter operations – it serves as a point of reference for decision making, drives progress, and inspires members of your organization. As turnover occurs annually in Greek organizations, it is important to create a short-term vision statement for your term and also create a long-term vision statement that is reviewed annually for relevance.
How do you create a vision statement? If your chapter is smaller you can sit all of your members down and analyze the goals and desires of your members – identifying commonalities and using them as a basis for your vision. If your chapter is larger, I would advise that your chapter elects a committee of a variety of members to establish a vision from the common goals of the elected committee – this will avoid a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario while maintaining a representation of all members interests.
Establish Relationships with Leaders in the Community
Failing to establish working relationships with other influencers in the community is one of the biggest mistakes I have seen Greek leaders make. Cultivating positive relationships with other Greek leaders and with university staff is the best way to improve your organization’s reputation; it also never hurts to have allies in other houses and in the university. The biggest disputes that I encountered with sororities, fraternities, and the university were resolved with ease due to these positive relationships. It’s also important to note that breaking down the rivalry and disdain often seen in Greek communities opens up opportunities for mentoring and friendship among leaders and associated members alike.
The values of a Greek organization is what unites members spanning time, and origin. As such, it is the responsibility of your chapter to honor your founders and alumni by recruiting members who represent the values of your organization. Formal Recruitment is often one of the most exciting, albeit stressful times of the year; it is easy to get lost in excitement, the pressure to hit some form of numerical goal, and a desire to recruit the coolest or most attractive person. This toxic mindset is the reason for a majority of long term problems that plague Greek organizations. Often these problems snowball into cultural issues that will shut your chapter down. It is crucial that you as a leader defend the values of your organization and the vision of your chapter by stepping into recruitment season with the mindset that you will recruit people who represent the values of your organization. These members will move mountains for your organization – dedicating themselves to their fellow members through the best of times and the worst of times. How do you execute values-based recruitment? It starts by having recruitment events where conversations can easily be spurred between active members and potential new members. An environment conducive to social interaction is key. Next, it is important to mentor your active members in art of asking the right questions while talking to potential new members. Emphasize that open-ended questions that gauge personal values are exponentially more informative than typical closed-ended questions. For more information about values-based recruitment, I encourage you to check out Phired Up’s blog, “What Are We Doing to Harm the Recruitment Experience?”
Servant Leadership is the philosophy of coming alongside members of your organization to actively lead and take part in a cause or mission. This powerful philosophy is rooted in the old adage, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain glory.” It is the difference between a leader who can rally their organization behind them and a leader who struggles to garner the respect of their brothers or sisters. Servant leadership is the act of sacrificing the need to feel personally successful and instead aggressively seeking opportunities to make your organization and the people around you feel successful and appreciated. Actively seek opportunities to serve alongside your brothers or sisters, and you will leave a lasting impact on the members of your organization.
A strong financial position for your fraternity or sorority is the difference between having the capital to deliver an unforgettable member experience and one that leaves your members feeling as if they were robbed.
With finances, there are 4 crucial tenets to consider:
• Budget 12 months in advance
o Failure to anticipate and budget for large ticket items such as nationals bills, Greek council fees/fines, events, recruitment etc. will cause you to scramble for the length of your term. Prioritize your spending by saving enough money to cover the bills that are required per your national organization and the university first. Put those expenses in savings and do not touch them until you need to pay your bills. From there build out the rest of your budget to anticipate expenses pertaining to member experience (i.e. Events, Recruitment etc.) Seek help from your alumni if you need help designing an appropriate budget.
• Transparency is key
o Being transparent builds trust not just between your members and the Vice-President of Finance, but also between your members and the Executive Board. Members pay substantial sums of money to be apart of your organization and the least you can do is show them where their money is going on a regular basis. Generate detailed month-by-month profit and loss statements, aging of accounts reports, and a budget vs. actual report and display them on your organizations group page.
• Hold your members accountable to their financial obligations
o While being transparent with your members is important, your members must also fulfill their obligation to pay all dues and fines on time. Consider implementing an array of positive and negative incentives to encourage members to pay on time. Additionally, if your organization hasn’t already done so, outline clear expectations of payment obligations in your bylaws or membership agreement.
• Incorporate a Payment Processor that understands your organizations needs
o Greek organizations process hundreds of millions of dollars each year nationwide on payment platforms that either cost too much money or aren’t tailored to the needs of the organization. As a non-profit organization, you have a lot of benefits to take advantage of that your current payment provider may not provide – such as lower percentage rates, better technology, and unmatched service. PayZang understands the needs of your fraternity and sorority and we are dedicated to helping your organization succeed.
PayZang and Your Greek Organization
PayZang provides Greek organizations with fast, reliable, and secure payment processing that undercuts the competitors like Square, Stripe, or Venmo. PayZang can optimize your payment processing and integrate all your processing needs into a singular, easy to use platform. With Clover Go, PayZang will afford your organization the ability to accept Credit Card, and eCheck payments securely via Bluetooth – say goodbye to that flimsy headphone jack reader. Additionally, your organization may qualify for next day funding – putting money in your chapter account faster than ever before. Lastly, PayZang backs all of these perks with our unparalleled customer support. Our customer success representatives are dedicated to assisting you – never leaving you to talk to a useless robot on the phone.
Let PayZang Help you Make a Positive and Lasting Difference
Positive and lasting change in your organization will lead your fraternity or sorority into a position to be the future of greek life. Given the volatility and overall disdain of greek organizations nationwide, Greek life is in desperate need of a positive headline – PayZang understands this. We understand that in order for your organization to be successful in shaping the future leaders of the world you must be able to have the financial tools to do so. For more information about how PayZang can play an active role in ensuring the success of your organization feel free to contact our team at 1-800-838-8651 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org