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Fraternity Engagement in the Age of Distraction


In our modern era, we live a distracted life. This makes fraternity engagement a challenge, to say the least.

Our phones keep us occupied much of the time, as we switch from app to app, scrolling infinitely through social media posts.

Not that long ago, the internet as it is today wasn’t conceivable. That quickly changed.

Nowadays we have practically every bit of human knowledge at our fingertips, some of it trustworthy information, some of it not so much. We can connect with other people instantly, from screen to screen.

Not to mention the movies, television shows, games, and all the other amazing tasks our technology allows.

Fraternity chapters understand the use of software tools well. Everything from budgeting, to chapter communications, to recruitment, to who’s having lunch where, can be accomplished with a specific piece of software.

Yet it’s also important to seek balance in our lives. As human beings, we need certain things that our devices can’t always provide.

Nothing can replace real, in-person connections, love, or the brotherhood fraternity men share.

Okay, so your goal is to engage fraternity alumni. To get them genuinely involved in the chapter. You also need desperately to meet your fundraising goals, and without alumni support that won’t happen.

Your first instinct is probably to turn to technology to bolster engagement, right? After all, the undergraduates are fully immersed. It seems to work for them.

Sometimes, however, technology, software, and the internet can distract from the very tasks you’re using them for.

Pennington & Company wants to help your chapter build meaningful engagement that lasts beyond the latest Tweet or Instagram post. Let’s talk about Fraternity Engagement in the Age of Distraction.

Use Your Phone to Actually Call Alumni

As we’ve mentioned in the past, a phone call goes a long way in the pursuit of alumni engagement.

While many see their phone as a device built to do a million different things, they infrequently use the phone for its original purpose: to call people.

Whether we admit it or not, a brother’s voice means more to us than a text, private message, or getting tagged in a post.

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There are plenty of good excuses to pick up the phone:

  • Forging a deeper connection before you need donations

  • Seeking alumni with specific expertise for volunteer roles

  • Inviting alumni to events

  • Coordinating alumni reunions

  • Interviewing for alumni spotlights in a newsletter

  • Sharing news about your university

  • Soliciting for donations

  • Thanking alumni for past volunteer work or fundraising campaign gifts

  • They’re your brother, that’s why.

Of course, social media serves a role in engagement. It gives quick and easy access to information about events and initiatives. It gives a window into the lives of undergrads and fellow alumni, and it keeps them up to date on national news as well.

However, only a phone call can offer the person on the other end a tone of voice that says, “I care.” Only a phone call can give an infectious laugh recalling past fraternal antics, instead of an empty “lol.”

And when you reward alumni for their engagement by engaging them back, ringing them up to say “thanks,” they’re much more likely to engage again.

Get Alumni to Events

Phone calls should be a gateway to in-person connections and participation in chapter events.

When you’re calling up your old chapter house roommate, it helps bridge relationships. But your ultimate goal is to get them to show up.

It’s not easy to do this, but there are steps you can take to make events more enticing to your fellow alumni.

For one, focus your efforts on inviting different alumni to different events. Not every event will interest everyone. Gauge the interest level of your peers for different events. If they aren’t showing up, sit down with them and ask why, then adjust to better fit their expectations.

If anything, ask them to get involved in planning and managing an event, then thank them profusely for their help.

Having regular communication with alumni in the first place, and forging strong, consistent relationships, will help you understand what motivates them.

This helps with fundraising, but even more crucially it helps you strategize how to better bring your peers into the fold.

Use Software Tools, Too

We don’t mean to give the impression that all forms of social media and software communication are bad.

That simply isn’t true.

And, to be perfectly honest, these technologies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But the mistake some chapters make is relying too much or only on software solutions.

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We think a mix is best, where software is used to augment your real-world bonds.

That means social media shouldn’t just be used to show off what’s going on with brothers and active alumni, but to engage interactions with alumni and get them to come out—with plenty of notice.

You don’t just use an email campaign to get capital campaign contributions. Email is only a small part of a larger, annual effort to garner real, lasting engagement.

Communication software like GINSystem is great for internal alumni association communications. Use it for strategizing how to get your fellow graduate brothers excited about what’s next for the chapter.

Build a website. Send a newsletter in the mail, but put it online as a PDF as well for those who want to view it that way.

So long as we use our tools to build stronger relationships as brothers, we’re on the right track.

Professionals Can Help

Professional Greek fundraising consultants can offer your chapter insight into alumni engagement that only comes with years of experience with many different chapters.

Having an outside, objective perspective can enrich your engagement efforts by providing useful new data and new approaches to old problems. It can also give you more resources toward capital campaign fundraising.

Good fundraising specialists will not only provide solutions for this project or the next one, but will guide you toward sustainable, meaningful engagement with compounding results.

Pennington & Company offers comprehensive guidance on improving fraternity alumni engagement and reaching your capital campaign fundraising goals. Talk with us today about how we can help with your chapter’s engagement needs.

What questions or ideas do you have about fraternity engagement in the age of distraction? Let us know in the comments below.