By Michael Schulte, Westminster ‘14
This summer our recruitment chairman and our chapter advisory board knew that COVID-19, and the economic fallout it spurred, threatened to diminish the fraternity experience.
We knew that we would need to work harder than ever to incentivize membership in Phi Delta Theta.
When General Headquarters announced its platform to financially sponsor new members, the recruitment team was certain that reduced dues could make a substantial difference for students and families considering our Fraternity. Our chapter advisory board decided that we could best support the chapter by coordinating a targeted fundraising campaign.
We collaborated with the chapter’s recruitment team to set a goal to raise $5,400 to pay for new member and initiation dues for 15 new members.
Here is how we accomplished our goal:
- First, we translated our membership goal, 15 new members, into a fundraising goal. To pay for new member ($85) and initiation dues ($255) for 15 new members, we would need to raise $5,400.
- We then set our target audience. Because these donations are relatively small, we decided to target alumni who had graduated in the past ten years.
- Next, we reached out to former presidents and other influential members to ask them if they would be willing to make a donation and challenge people in their social circles to match their donation. Many of these alumni created group text threads. Several of these threads generated over $1,000.
- We also used social media to encourage targeted donors and to find donors we may not have thought to contact. Each social media post communicated our goal, our progress towards that goal, and how this fundraiser could impact our chapter. Our chapter president wrote the initial appeal and made a video explaining the context and urging alumni and friends to donate.
- Once a post hit social media, several alumni moderated the post and tagged brothers who might be interested in donating. Our social media strategy was so successful that we raised over $1,500 our first day.
- The last $1,500 was the hardest to raise. We continued to post our progress on social media, but post engagement declined. At this stage, we moved to direct contact via text messaging or phone calls. We mobilized our house mom and our province president (who was formerly our chapter advisory board chairman) to make appeals on behalf of the chapter.
The direct appeals worked. We exceeded our goal, raising over $5,400 in less than two weeks.
Recruitment took place last week and it appears our fundraising efforts paid off. Westminster College has six fraternities. Three of those fraternities had six or less students accept bids. Our chapter had 14 people accept bids. We are currently the largest new member class on campus.
One new member commented, “Lower dues was a major factor in my decision.” Another said our fundraising efforts made him “feel better about his decision” to join Phi Delta Theta.
Our current context demands innovation, but our chapter has proven that you can still grow the fraternity during a global pandemic. The monies we raised played an invaluable role in allowing us to communicate another incentive to potential new members. It proved that our brotherhood is more than a four-year college experience. It revealed that our brotherhood includes a network of thousands of people who have your back in the most challenging circumstances. I hope chapters across the country will join us in taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity and platform to sustain growth and help the next generation become the greatest version of themselves.