The actual strategy of building a strong recruitment process isn’t simple. It involves the buy-in of the Chapters, the region leadership, advisors, staff and the community. Strategies vary across Chapters, regions and even members. Each constituency “sells” the program differently. Use the following hints to help your chapter, council and region with recruitment.
Strong Traditions Keep Chapters Strong; Make Sure They Are The Right Ones
Chapter traditions are a great way to recruit members that are seeking the fraternity and sorority feel of AZA/BBG. Traditions are programs and rituals that make 8th or 9th graders feel important, and part of something bigger than themselves. That said, acknowledge that not all traditions are relevant to today’s teens/today’s parents/today’s community – as much as you may cherish a tradition, it may be hurting your Chapter/C/R more than it’s helping. All traditions in all contexts modernize – traditions lose their appeal when they’re no longer relevant.
Competition & ‘Collective Identity Building’ Can Help to Recruit New Members
Positioning your Chapter’s reputation of friendship and program excellence so that it simply attracts new teens should be something all communities strive for. Be sure to make Chapter spirit, gear, and positive-identity building traditions a priority in your AZA/BBG cultures back home. Physical and tangible manifestations of feeling they ‘belong’ will bind members to AZA/BBG meaningfully.
Summer Experience Participation is KEY
Your Chapter should be sending members to summer experiences every year:
- It ensures continuity of leadership standards, intensive BBYO involvement and will guarantee smooth transitions from leadership class to leadership class.
- An ideal goal should be that 1/3 of your Chapter attends summer programs.
- Chapters/Councils/Regions that have large summer attendance are stronger locally and have extensive appreciation for being a part of an International Order.
- It’s never too early to start recruiting for summer programs.
- You have to feel a part of the Movement to be a passionate, committed part of it.
Retention is a Must
Current members and upperclassmen are constituencies that deserve equal attention:
- Create benchmarks so members have things to look forward to over time.
- Possible leadership routes, program opportunities, and summer experiences
- Members must have new experiences each year throughout the 5-year cycle
- Upperclassmen must feel valued beyond positions or they’ll find other high school-related roles to fulfill. Roles and responsibilities validate the time they invested early on; they must have more of a purpose than simply driving younger teens
- Widen Accessibility Points: The best way to maintain member involvement is through consistent and significant empowerment opportunities; initiate AIT/MIT Boards, create chairpersonships, delegate program coordination to different members for different programs, build interest-specific clubs or committees, etc.
- Develop a culture of Chapter membership beyond holding positions. Not everyone will want to hold a position – or ultimately get to. Make sure the Chapter environment is inclusive for everyone.
We must own BBYO Connect!
BBYO Connect is now serving 6,000+ middle school students on an annual basis. These are teens that, for the most part, are having positive experiences with BBYO already. The rate of transition from BC to AZA and BBG is far from where it should be! This year, AZA/BBG move to own BBYO Connect.
- Create Regional/Council BBYO Connect Representatives, Positions, Chair People.
- Attend BBYO Connect events (with AZA/BBG representatives from every Chapter).
- Add it to Position Portfolios at the Chapter, Council, and/or Regional level.
- Create special 8th grade Kickoff/transition programs that lead to AZA/BBG excitement.
The only regions to grow significantly over the last 5 years have strong, vibrant and exciting BBYO Connect programs with AZA/BBG buy-in and positive community reputations.