As a passionate fraternity or sorority member or officer, you likely remember your own recruitment very well, and understand how important that time can be to set the tone for the rest of your membership experience.
Fraternity and sorority recruitment is the process of current chapter members recruiting new members into their organizations. This usually happens at the beginning of a semester during what is known as “Rush Week” or “Rush.”
Planning a strategic and values-based Rush Week is critical, because recruiting great new members is how you continue to grow your chapter and expand your organization’s opportunities.
However, Rush Week and recruitment come with their unique set of challenges, and some chapters struggle to know how to host a successful Rush Week and find the best potential new members (PNMs) out there.
But there’s no need to worry. In this guide, we’ll walk you through five steps to recruitment success. Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment: Starting With the Basics
- Step 1: Electing a Recruitment Chair
- Step 2: Planning Your Recruitment Process Before Rush Week
- Step 3: Hosting A Values-Based Rush Week
- Step 4: Making Voting and Bidding Easy with Recruitment Software
- Step 5: Going Beyond Recruitment
If you’re ready to say goodbye to Rush Week stress and streamline your recruitment process, this is the article for you! Let’s get started.
Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment: Starting With the Basics
Fraternity and sorority recruitment looks different for every school and every chapter, but there are some basic concepts to familiarize yourself with before you can plan a successful Rush Week.
Recruitment Terms to KnowOne place where members can get lost during the recruitment process is where they try to keep up with all of the Rush-related terms more experienced members or officers might use. Here’s a list of some of the most common fraternity and sorority recruitment terms to know:
- Potential New Member (PNM): Also referred to as a pledge or a rush, a PNM is a person who is attempting to join a fraternity or sorority.
- Legacy: A PNM (or current member) whose family member belonged to the fraternity or sorority chapter.
- Bid: An official invitation to join a specific fraternity or sorority chapter after you’ve been voted on by current members.
- Bid Day: This is the last day of Rush Week, when new members receive their bid to join their fraternity or sorority chapter.
- Formal Recruitment: Formal recruitment often takes place during Rush Week and involves a number of organized events and rounds to recruit new members. Prospective members typically attend events for multiple fraternities or sororities and narrow down their top choices.
- Informal Recruitment / Continuous Open Bidding (COB): Some chapters host informal recruitment or COB throughout the school year, which is a more relaxed version of recruitment that involves casual meet-and-greets and bidding.
Once you and your prospective members have a firm grasp of these common phrases, it will be much easier to communicate next steps and help PNMs navigate the upcoming Rush process.
How (Formal) Recruitment Works
At the beginning of Rush Week, PNMs will explore their different chapter options, visiting with current members to get a sense of what it would be like to be a member of that specific chapter. This will typically involve meet-and-greets, parties, and other events.
PNMs will narrow down their choice of fraternity or sorority, and communicate their decision to step back from consideration if they are no longer interested in a particular chapter.
Next, current members of a chapter will meet to vote on PNMs. The PNMs who are voted in will receive a bid and join the ranks of their new fraternity or sorority!
Recruitment in Fraternities vs Sororities
Typically (but not always!) fraternity Rush Week is more laid back than sorority Rush Week. For example, sorority Rush may include several more days or even an additional week than the average fraternity counterpart, and also include more formalized events and meetings to attend.
Also, sororities typically have more rules to adhere to, as evidenced by The National Panhellenic Conference’s 191-page Manual of Information.
Now that you know the basics of fraternity and sorority recruitment, you can use our five-step plan to get ready for a successful Rush Week of your own!
Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment Step 1: Electing a Recruitment ChairYou take your first important step toward a successful Rush Week when you elect your next recruitment chair.
It’s important to elect someone who is:
- Outgoing and easy to talk to.
- Organized and detail-oriented.
- A model student.
- An experienced member who embodies your chapter’s values.
- Well-versed in campus and fraternity or sorority culture.
A recruitment chair must also have time to dedicate to spearheading Rush, planning and strategizing, meeting with recruitment advisors, maintaining a contact list with PNMs, and acting as the main point of recruitment communications.
However, they can’t do it alone!
The outgoing recruitment officer must train the new officer properly, both on the technical parts of the job and how to interact with PNMs. This doesn’t happen overnight, and it can be a long and ongoing learning process to prepare the new officer for the duties that come with the role.
In addition, executive offers will work with the recruitment chair to plan Rush Week and set a budget. Together, executive officers and the recruitment chair will ensure sisters or brothers know their roles, responsibilities, and expectations for Rush Week.
Everyone has to work together to pull off a successful Rush Week!
Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment Step 2: Planning Your Recruitment Process Before Rush Week
Planning for your next fraternity or sorority recruitment push takes months. Often, it seems that just as Rush Week ends, you’re already planning for the next one.
One of the biggest components of recruitment planning is settling on a budget. A recruitment budget takes a lot of planning and input from both your treasurer and executive board. Budgets can vary quite a lot from one chapter to the next, and will include things like food, flyers, posters, t-shirts and costumes, decorations, and any number of other Rush-related costs.
Note that sometimes your budget will be limited by your governing council or umbrella organization on campus, and these limits must be adhered to. Chapter budgeting software like OmegaFi’s Vault can help you stay within your recruitment budget, ensure you account for everything, and keep your chapter out of the red.
You want to stand out from other chapters to attract the best PNMs possible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spending more. It also doesn’t mean having better decorations and skits or louder music. At the end of the day, Rush Week is about finding genuine ways to reach out to prospects within the rules of recruitment. With your budget top-of-mind, plan so brothers or sisters can connect with PNMs in ways that are conversation-based and explore if your values are a match. This way, you’ll bring in the right brothers or sisters every time.
Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment Step 3: Hosting a Values-Based Rush WeekA chapter’s letters represent certain values. Some universal fraternity and sorority values include things like integrity, equality, fairness, philanthropy, hard work, friendship, and leadership. To attract and bid the right PNMs during Rush, brothers and sisters must uphold the values represented by their letters and their university, and ensure their recruitment process reflects these values and presents them in a consistent way to PNMs.
To host a values-based Rush Week, your chapter should do the following:
- Focus on informative and friendly PNM conversations.
- Minimize distractions like loud music, costumes, and too many decorations.
- Avoid alcohol and other substances.
- Avoid risky behavior, especially hazing.
- Adhere to brother or sister conduct expectations.
Administrators, advisors, and governing councils set Rush regulations that fraternity and sorority chapters must understand and follow, and breaking these regulations results in consequences. This means you should consult with your recruitment and chapter advisors if you have any questions about planning a safe, efficient, fair, values-based Rush Week.
Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment Step 4: Making Voting and Bidding Easy with Recruitment Software
A more informed brother or sister makes a more educated vote when it comes time to bid PNMs.
Consider using sorority recruitment software to help you keep all your members informed about your PNMs and your bid process. A tool like OmegaRecruit can help you track PNM information in a central database, vote electronically, and automate your bid list if your university uses Interactive Collegiate Solutions (ICS) recruitment software.
As you’re voting, consider what you know about each PNM, including their bio, contact information, GPA, major, whether or not they’re a legacy, and any red flags.
It’s also a good idea to invite alumni advisors to participate in the decision-making process. They often have valuable insights and experience to bring to the table that can help you ensure you’re choosing the best PNMs who will represent your letters well.
Fraternity & Sorority Recruitment Step 5: Going Beyond Recruitment
Many fraternities and sororities make the mistake of saying, “We’re done!” as soon as they turn in their bid list. But really, welcoming your new members into your chapter is just the beginning.
Growing your fraternity brotherhood or sorority sisterhood is a process that takes special care and attention. To make sure your new members get started off on the right foot, you’ll want to follow up your recruitment process with leadership training, continuing education, fostering good habits, team-building events, and more.
Have a solid plan for integrating and educating members — not just when they’re first going through the initiation process, but the whole time they’re with your chapter. Chapters that prioritize this post-Rush step proactively begin building a better tomorrow for everyone, from future PNMs to alumni.
Rush Week doesn’t have to be an exhausting, stressful experience. With thorough planning and a determination to work together as a chapter to find the best new members, you can easily take on Rush Week in a way that focuses on your values and building a bright future for your organization.
Ready to learn more about managing your chapter’s operations? We recommend you take a look at these additional resources:
- Fraternity & Sorority Management: The Essential Guide. From Rush Week to collecting dues, managing your chapter involves juggling a lot of moving pieces. Learn the basics in this article.
- Fraternity & Sorority Management Software 101: A Guide. Learn more about the value fraternity and sorority management software can bring to your chapter.
- Top 10 Sorority and Fraternity Management Software. Finding the right software for your chapter is a process. Start by checking out some top options using this article from Double the Donation.