Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.
Ah, the start of the fall term — purchasing textbooks, reviewing course syllabi, locating obscure corner classrooms. You must have the required course materials, understand your professor’s expectations — and, yes, know where your classes meet — in order to lay the foundation for a productive school term. These first-week-of-school routines are essential ingredients in your academic journey. They are the basics.
Let’s take it one step further. To achieve success in your classes, you must do more. Do you have a study schedule? A study buddy? Do you plan to devote an hour each night to your physics class? Do you have a distraction-free work space? Your success is a direct reflection of your commitment level.
Think of your chapter’s success in the same way. Every chapter should be doing some recruitment basics: inviting prospective members, tabling (at a regular time every week or at your school’s kick-off organizational fair), promoting your chapter through awareness campaigns on campus (think PTK bulletin boards and “interest” meetings for prospective members and incoming freshmen).
Let’s move beyond the basics to explore the components of a robust local recruitment campaign. Remember: Robust Recruitment = More Members. More Members = Expanding Access to Opportunity. This translates into countless measures of chapter success: increased likelihood of earning REACH Rewards; increased levels of local, regional, and international engagement; and increased resources to dedicate to award-winning Honors in Action and College Projects.
Here’s a mashup of local membership recruitment campaigns from high-performing chapters over the years (and through the blog):
1. Offer membership fee scholarships to new members.
“During the fall 2016 semester, [the Sigma Lambda Chapter] ran a special promotion for awareness week offering new members a $10 discount for joining during that week, which resulted in 29 new members,” [former Alabama Regional Officer] Lionel Barzon said. – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”
2. Involve faculty, staff, and administrators.
Sigma Lambda Chapter Officers invited faculty and staff to wear PTK t-shirts during their Awareness Week to boost visibility on campus. – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”
3. Diversify methods of invitation delivery.
The Tau Mu Chapter sends chapter officers and members to classrooms to “tap” students — personally inviting them to attend an orientation and welcoming them to the chapter. – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”
4. Send personalized emailed invitations through Headquarters.
The Sigma Lambda Chapter sends its initial email invitations through Headquarters. Chapter Advisor and Alabama Associate Regional Coordinator Necia Nicholas said she also sends a pre-invite, or “heads up,” to all prospective members prior to the invitation. “It serves not only to help them look for the email, but to realize that it is not spam, not a fraternity, etc.” – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”
5. Incentivize students with tangible benefits.
Reward your chapter, either virtually or face-to-face, with a half-day training at Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters, where your group can meet one-on-one with the experts. – “Tailor Your Training at the Center for Excellence”
6. Provide refreshments at events.
“I’ve found that many [students] are happy to listen to a spiel about PTK if you offer them cake for the trouble,” Onyx Rose of the Alpha Sigma Alpha Chapter at De Anza College in California said. – “Cake, Pizza, Potluck”
7. Get creative.
The Xi Pi Chapter at Polk State College’s Winter Haven Campus in Florida holds a monthly potluck and movie night, where members are asked to bring a friend. – “Cake, Pizza, Potluck”
The Alpha Iota Pi Chapter in Kalispell, Montana, puts on a campus treasure hunt. The chapter sends students with a map to collect coins from each department, where they learn about the different student services and become more familiar with campus. Afterward, they are given a small prize and entered to win a gift card. – “Cake, Pizza, Potluck”
8. Recruit at local middle and high schools.
Ask members of the Admissions team at your school if you may accompany them on recruiting visits to local high schools. – “Back to the Basics of Recruiting … With Some New-School Swag“
The Sigma Delta Chapter in Texas witnessed its membership grow by partnering with local middle and high schools. “The younger kids were really excited,” [Chapter President Kaci] Maris said. “The junior high teachers want [our members] to come back.” – “Boost Membership with High School Outreach“
9. Personalize your pitch.
“Show others you are someone they can go to. Be approachable, and put a friendly face to the name of the organization. Remember, you were once in their shoes.” – Former International Officer Sara Hwang, “Membership Recruitment Best Practices“
Phi Theta Kappa members are well versed in what it takes to excel academically. They’ve moved beyond the basics to prioritizing goals, objectives, and strategies for individual success. Understanding what it takes for your chapter to move beyond the basics, however, may be a bit more challenging. Use this list to jumpstart or revamp your chapter’s path to success.