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  #1  
Old 08-24-2007, 01:14 PM
andrea981 andrea981 is offline
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How to help a struggling chapter

Hi. My GLO chapter has always had its ups and downs as far as numbers. Chapter total is 35, which no sorority can ever reach for more than a semester. There are 3 sororities and ours fluxtuates between being the 2nd or 3rd in numbers. Our largest year was back in 2002, when I was a Junior, when we had 25 actives. More often, though, we are about 15-20 girls. (EDIT: I want to clarify the reason the sororities are so small on campus -- the campus itself has only about 900 students)

After 5 years since graduating, I have returned to the area of my local GLO and have volunteered to be an advisor. Part of me wants to do everything humanly possible to help turn the chapter around, but I know that this type of involvement is not always helpful to chapters. At this time, it seems like the chapter needs a lot of help (headquarters is coming for a "visit" this fall), but I don't want to cross the line into being the micromanaging type of advisor that turns into a horror story. I had one of those kinds of advisors when I was President of my chapter my senior year, and it really was hard.

So my question is, what things can an advisor do that would be the most helpful -- particularly for recruitment issues. I want to be careful not to cross the line, but I really hope that my involvement can get my chapter over their "hump" and into a good recruitment this semester.
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Old 08-24-2007, 01:33 PM
AlethiaSi AlethiaSi is offline
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Sigh, believe me sweetie, i'm in the SAME position. My groups and I raised numbers and now they are in a slump... i try to help them and certain sisters (my first little was President at the time) have been less than receptive to help. Now, the current president is my second little and she's a lot better about asking for help and receiving it when I give it.... It might be best to seek out the sisters that you are closer with or have a connection with and just talk with them, share ideas, etc and then maybe they'll put those things into action or ask you for help when needed. unfortunately, as alumni, we want to help and (i know this is true for me) do more things, because I want them to be successful but I also want to be involved. The one thing I have had to come to terms with is the fact that they have to figure it out for themselves (for the most part) if they are unwilling to ask or get help from you. Good luck.

in terms of events etc, participation might be helpful, setting things up, etc. Also, I know with my org, money was always a big help, so if you can afford it, going up there and buying a few things that you think would be nice, or even buying food for the girls is often a big help for morale and staying positive is also big.
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2007, 02:12 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrea981 View Post
Hi. My GLO chapter has always had its ups and downs as far as numbers. Chapter total is 35, which no sorority can ever reach for more than a semester. There are 3 sororities and ours fluxtuates between being the 2nd or 3rd in numbers. Our largest year was back in 2002, when I was a Junior, when we had 25 actives. More often, though, we are about 15-20 girls. (EDIT: I want to clarify the reason the sororities are so small on campus -- the campus itself has only about 900 students)

After 5 years since graduating, I have returned to the area of my local GLO and have volunteered to be an advisor. Part of me wants to do everything humanly possible to help turn the chapter around, but I know that this type of involvement is not always helpful to chapters. At this time, it seems like the chapter needs a lot of help (headquarters is coming for a "visit" this fall), but I don't want to cross the line into being the micromanaging type of advisor that turns into a horror story. I had one of those kinds of advisors when I was President of my chapter my senior year, and it really was hard.

So my question is, what things can an advisor do that would be the most helpful -- particularly for recruitment issues. I want to be careful not to cross the line, but I really hope that my involvement can get my chapter over their "hump" and into a good recruitment this semester.
If the other sororities are all having a problem reaching/staying at total, it should be lowered. Be sure to let HQ know that this is the case - i.e. it's not like everyone else's numbers are through the roof and yours are unnaturally low.

Try to help them during rush not to get discouraged if girls they like don't come back, and to focus on the ones they do like who are showing up. Encourage them to COB and make friends outside the sorority.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2007, 02:53 PM
andrea981 andrea981 is offline
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On chapter total: trust me, we have tried to lower it for years... 35 was the number set up when panhellenic was established (before that we were the only national sorority). The other two sororities do not want to see it lowered, not because they would be all that hurt, but because i think they want to see my sorority's chapter die. Not big in the way of panhellenic spirit on that campus, let me tell ya.
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2007, 03:01 PM
Tom Earp Tom Earp is offline
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Originally Posted by 33girl View Post
If the other sororities are all having a problem reaching/staying at total, it should be lowered. Be sure to let HQ know that this is the case - i.e. it's not like everyone else's numbers are through the roof and yours are unnaturally low.

Try to help them during rush not to get discouraged if girls they like don't come back, and to focus on the ones they do like who are showing up. Encourage them to COB and make friends outside the sorority.
33girl hit the nail right on the head. Having totals can be a killer especially if what you say about a school of 900 students.

I would imagine that you have dorm sections and not houses.

Making friends with those that the girls meet and inviting them for social things for just a get to know each other is always good. Many non GLO women really have no idea what Sororities are actually all about. It would be a godd time to let them know what your chapter does, how close they are, what the participate in.

Being an advisor is just that advising, not hounding or demanding that they do things your way as they will resent you for it.

It sounds like you may make a good advisor as you have seen how not to handle situations.
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2007, 03:06 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Originally Posted by andrea981 View Post
On chapter total: trust me, we have tried to lower it for years... 35 was the number set up when panhellenic was established (before that we were the only national sorority). The other two sororities do not want to see it lowered, not because they would be all that hurt, but because i think they want to see my sorority's chapter die. Not big in the way of panhellenic spirit on that campus, let me tell ya.
Well, if your chapter dies, then one of them will probably be next.

Do you have formal rush in fall or spring? If it's in spring, use the fall to recruit all the upperclassmen possible - use COB - for the women who might like being in a sorority but don't necessarily like the idea of going through formal rush.
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2007, 03:08 PM
andrea981 andrea981 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlethiaSi View Post
Sigh, believe me sweetie, i'm in the SAME position. My groups and I raised numbers and now they are in a slump... i try to help them and certain sisters (my first little was President at the time) have been less than receptive to help. Now, the current president is my second little and she's a lot better about asking for help and receiving it when I give it.... It might be best to seek out the sisters that you are closer with or have a connection with and just talk with them, share ideas, etc and then maybe they'll put those things into action or ask you for help when needed. unfortunately, as alumni, we want to help and (i know this is true for me) do more things, because I want them to be successful but I also want to be involved. The one thing I have had to come to terms with is the fact that they have to figure it out for themselves (for the most part) if they are unwilling to ask or get help from you. Good luck.

in terms of events etc, participation might be helpful, setting things up, etc. Also, I know with my org, money was always a big help, so if you can afford it, going up there and buying a few things that you think would be nice, or even buying food for the girls is often a big help for morale and staying positive is also big.
Thank you so much for your encouragement. It does help to know I'm not the only one with sorority woes (it seems like nationally my sorority is going just peachy, which makes some of us feel even more badly for ourselves). I see so many similarities between your situation and mine -- definitely the girls' morale is a major obstacle. Another one, that I did not mention earlier, is that there have been advisors in the past that have really burned the chapter's reputation with headquarters -- advisors that just didn't like the idea of the chapter growing into something that didn't resemble their own memories of the chapter. I think this history makes them all a little weary of me, the "new adviser."
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  #8  
Old 08-24-2007, 03:11 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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You can make your chapter grow without sacrificing its integrity or taking girls you aren't proud of. You just have to know where to find them.

I think part of the problem is when you have a small chapter, everyone will have an office or 2, have to go to everything, etc. When you get larger, you're going to have some people that are "just members" and some people are going to look at that as them being less committed or lazy. I don't think that should be a problem if total is 35 though - everyone should be able to be on a committee at least.
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2007, 03:12 PM
andrea981 andrea981 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 33girl View Post
Well, if your chapter dies, then one of them will probably be next.

Do you have formal rush in fall or spring? If it's in spring, use the fall to recruit all the upperclassmen possible - use COB - for the women who might like being in a sorority but don't necessarily like the idea of going through formal rush.
Formal recruitment is in the fall and the chapter COBs the weeks after fall recruitment and again in the spring -- really exhausting for the girls. The chapter tends to do better with COB events if enough members feel motivated to invite a lot of people. Usually there are a lot of girls that think it isn't their responsibility to invite because "they live off campus" or they are seniors and don't have classes with freshmen... the list goes on. Last spring they had a good COB semester and initiated a good handful of girls, but then there was a huge class that graduated that spring and that evened things out.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2007, 06:19 PM
ZTA zetahunny ZTA zetahunny is offline
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I just returned from visiting my collegiate chapter which is experiencing some of the same. Eight members from my 1977 pledge class showed up to help inspire them. Our National office has somehow provided them with a fantastic mentor who was there during the week on a volunteer basis and will be there as needed. It's not every day that you see a 50 year old fashion designer (their mentor) clap, sing, and act silly in a circle of 18 college women. I have never experienced sisterhood like I did during the three days I was there. We expect it will take about 5 years to rebuild, but if the sisterhood stays strong, it will be fun and will give these women experiences they would never have after umpeen years of academics. I wish the workshops, and personal stories could be on film so I could share it all with you. We alums are going to be sort of alum chums so the girls will have another sister looking out for them throughout the years. The little President doesn't even realize how much she has done. During a mock party, she mentioned an event in a string of events that they participate in, but it wasn't until I asked what exactly it was that we found out it was her original idea and she put it into action. Eighteen girls took 300 dollars and turned it into 1800 almost overnight, donated all of it, and didn't think to brag about it. She said she didn't get to completely get to finish it because she had to be the Vice President. I never quite understood what people meant when they talked about leadership potential in small chapters. It was a fantastic week.
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2007, 06:34 PM
melaxid melaxid is offline
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Been there!

You are so right that you don't want to micromanage, but want to help them succeed.

Here is what I have found works:
* Inspire them with stories, other alumnae etc.
* Bribes. The chapter I advise would do anything for any little prize.
* set high standards, and help them set realistic goals to attain.
* let them have FUN together... if a chapter morale is low, pnms can tell!

I would also recommend reading I Heart Recruitment from www.phiredup.com. It is a great read, and has some great ideas on recruitment and finding quality members in great quantity!

good luck!!!! if you stay positive and committed, they will catch on. It takes time, but is totally possible!
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  #12  
Old 08-24-2007, 07:58 PM
andrea981 andrea981 is offline
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I Heart Recruitment looks like a great read! I am totally ordering this TODAY...
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  #13  
Old 08-25-2007, 01:01 AM
KSUViolet06 KSUViolet06 is offline
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This is a good thread to read with some ideas:

http://greekchat.com/gcforums/showth...chapter+chosen
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  #14  
Old 08-25-2007, 11:00 AM
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AOII Angel AOII Angel is offline
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I think one problem with trying to "turn around" a chapter is that members feel like they are "not good enough." If you try to identify what they want for the chapter, i.e. more sisters but retain an image of the "average girls" or the "smart girls" or the "good girls",etc. You might get farther. Collegiate members may get defensive if you talk about getting the top rushees. They probably weren't the top girls, but who cares! They have worth too! I'm sure you understand and agree with all of this, but they may not see it that way.
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Old 08-26-2007, 08:04 PM
andrea981 andrea981 is offline
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Angel - I definitely recognize that hurting the girls feelings is a concern. The entire situation is touchy because the chapter has been "burned" by a few overzealous advisers in the past. I think the chapter, as a whole, is especially nervous about members of our specific chapter coming back as advisors because they feel like the advisors want to control the chapter's direction too much. I certainly don't want to be that kind of advisor, but it is hard to motivate the older members to put themself out there socially and recruit. I remember feeling that way, myself, my senior year. It is hard to go out and meet PNMs, but so necessary in a chapter that could shut down if the chapter doesn't step up recruitment this year.
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