by Matt Mattson
I just thought this was a cool recruitment idea (when combined with the explanation below) and wanted to share. I will give full credit for this idea to the Gamma Theta Chapter of Beta Theta Pi at Washington State University.
I was working with that chapter on their upcoming fall recruitment calendar, and they were trying to come up with some creative ways to take advantage of normal college student behavior. They wanted to have a non-threatening, non-traditional method for attracting non-Greek students to their fraternity house. Knowing what we know, normally fraternity houses are scary to non-Greek students, and the most logical of them wouldn't dare set foot on frat house property (for good reason, in my opinion). So we were trying to think of something that would make it more inviting.
So imagine this scenario. Throughout the first week of school, all of the chapter members are constantly wandering around campus selling raffle tickets for a charity. With every person they sell a ticket to, they have a short conversation, get their name and contact information, and let them know that the big raffle prize will be given away at the pancake breakfast on Sunday morning. The members are also spending time all week handing out applications for their recruitment scholarship. The scholarship awardees would be announced at the big pancake breakfast the chapter's putting on Sunday. The chapter has also been working with sororities and other referral sources all week to get referrals of good potential members. They offer to thank the sororities and other referral sources by inviting them to the big pancake breakfast on Sunday. At the parties and social events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday ever member in the chapter is offering free “hangover” breakfast on Sunday morning to everyone they meet.
Then on Sunday, guess what, the chapter serves pancakes for breakfast under a big tent on their front lawn. That's it… nothing too crazy, just free pancakes from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or so.
What I love about the idea is not the pancakes, not the tent, and to be honest, not that it is at the house (it might be better if it was somewhere else on campus). What I love about the idea is that it gives all the chapter members something of value to talk about (a.k.a. an “icebreaker”) when they're meeting people all week. It also provides REASONS to invite people to the event (saying thanks to the referral sources, scholarship awarded, raffle prize given, etc.), instead of just inviting people to an event for the sake of the event.
Other variations on this idea might be to invite faculty, staff, alumni, parents etc. to attend, or even help. An organization might consider “charging” a $1 donation to a local charity, or 5 canned goods for breakfast. A chapter might consider working with the “orientation office” on campus to make this part of the university's orientation week. The organization might consider putting out yard games and turning it into a natural afternoon barbecue — making it an all day event.
Pancakes can be cheap, and better yet, they could be donated if the event was for charity.
Just thought it was a unique idea that could definitely work.