Top 20 Chapter Tips Part 2

From Good to GREAT! (Part 2)

20 ways to achieve chapter stardom in 2009-2010 ~ Concluding our exclusive 2-part series!


November 1, 2009

YOU'VE NO DOUBT KICKED OFF THIS YEAR IN STYLE, using some of the great tips we shared in the most recent issue of Phi Sig Savvy. Good for you!

Keep that momentum going and achieve even greater success for your chapter with any of the top practices below: outstanding techniques that Phi Sig’s best chapters have relied on to become even better, establishing themselves as the premier sorority at their universities.

Remember: These techniques are proven to work, so try any or all of them to take your own chapter to the next level! (And be sure to check out the first 10 tips from Part 1 of this exclusive 2-part series!)

11. Schedule events carefully to avoid overprogramming.

If you’ve never heard the term “overprogramming” before, here’s what it means: cramming too many sorority events and activities (required or otherwise) into anFood drive academic term or somewhat shorter period of time – often with the belief the chapter must complete a certain number of projects to win Fraternity or Greek life awards, or to earn Chapter Excellence points.

How can you tell whether your chapter is potentially overprogrammed? If sisters attend mandatory events every week or weekend – or if philanthropic or Foundation fundraising activities aren’t scheduled evenly across the fall and spring terms (requiring back-to-back events), you may be trying to do too much. The potential result: sorority burnout – something you want to avoid for active Phi Sig members who are involved in other campus organizations, th
eir communities or in local workplaces.

TIP: Carefully review the new Chapter Excellence guidelines, identifying the minimum standards for top chapter achievement. Try to schedule the entire year’s mandatory vs. voluntary events accordingly – everything from fundraisers to parents’ and alumnae outings – and remember that involving various kinds of participants can reduce overprogramming while simultaneously increasing your overall CE points. For example, a spring picnic for parents can include alumnae as well – requiring less event planning, and maximizing your fun in the process!

12. Celebrate achievements, great and small.

American University graduationIn addition to “For the Good & Welfare” at the conclusion of each meeting, is your chapter doing anything to recognize individuals for their noteworthy accomplishments within Phi Sig, on campus or in their hometown communities? It could be as simple as your standards board (formerly called “judicial board”) budgeting to distribute several gift cards to worthy sisters at the conclusion of each month, or even a handmade card signed by all your sisters to mark the occasion!

Of course, recognition doesn’t have to cost anything at all: Check out the Celebration Ceremony in the Phi Sigma Sigma Ritual Book. It’s simple, meaningful, and highly appreciated by members within chapters that regularly practice this beautiful ritual
.

13. Be responsible and minimize risks associated with campus life.

As a savvy college student, you already know the right choices to make in various social situations you might encounter. As a Phi Sig (and a member of a successful chapter), it's important to remind yourself and your sisters regularly that we're guided by certain values in this sorority - and we strive to uphold higher standards that lead to better living and counteract unhealthy, even inaccurate Greek stereotypes.

That’s why top chapters rely on their risk management chairs to identify and creatively share important issues your sisters want and need to discuss to enjoy even more healthy, active and safe lifestyles consistent with our ideals. Need suggestions? Consult our online resource library (secure log-in is required), or contact your friendly membership manager for assistance.

TIP: If you’re concerned about risks at your campus, or there’s ever a situation or emergency you believe Phi Sigma Sigma should know about, always feel comfortable contacting Headquarters via our dedicated 24/7 hotline: 410-440-7232. We’re here to help – and we care about you and your sisters!

14. Wear your letters with pride – everywhere you go.

You and your sisters hold our “Phi Sigma Sigma” name, as well as our letters (ΦΣΣ), in the highest regard, of course. They’re extremely special to every sister!

To wear them with the most pride, here are two things your chapter will want to keep in mind, and educate sisters about going forward:
  • First, did you know our name and letters are now licensed trademarks? Several years ago, in response to a plethora of unauthorized vendors profiting from our identity, our sorority banded together with other Greek organizations worldwide to protect our “brand,” so to speak – and require not only that our letters be treated with the utmost respect, but also that vendors who wish to profit from the use of them pay us for that privilege. So before you order letters or recruitment T-shirts, for example, visit this Web site to ensure you’re getting not only the best deal, but working with licensed, pre-approved vendors: www.greeklicensing.com (Look for the Greek licensing logo to be sure.) Remember: Greek-licensed vendors pay royalties to Phi Sig that help keep the costs of membership lower and provide outstanding leadership programming and other benefits to you and your chapter!
  • Second, do your chapter sisters carefully avoid wearing our letters in less-than-best situations? Specifically, top chapters work hard to educate sisters why it’s critical to avoid wearing our beloved letters during certain social events, such as those where alcohol may be served. The reason for this is obvious: Greek life is not about partying, no matter what some stereotypes suggest…. Sisters and chapters can do their part to follow guidelines that preserve not just our good name (literally), but also the true mission of Greek life. Questions? Contact your campus Panhellenic council, or our Headquarters at phisighq@phisigmasigma.org, 410-799-1224.

15. Promote cooperation to limit internal conflict.

Truly outstanding chapters understand that all their members won’t always get along – and that’s OK. Constructive conflict is a part of real life, and challenging the status quo to reach mutually agreeable solutions can help us (as individuals and groups) hone our strengths, address areas of improvement and become even better.

Note, however, the emphasis here on “constructive conflict,” meaning that sisters committed to maintaining or creating an outstanding chapter always agree on one point: They will strive to be receptive to various viewpoints and to collaborate through respectful communication. Courtesy is contagious! Promote it within your group to limit conflict and bolster morale.

TIP: If your chapter has experienced problems with conflict, consider scheduling a session where sisters say nice things about each other with the goal of greater understanding and closeness following the session. (Advisors can make good facilitators.) Definitely ask your membership manager for guidance and assistance; these sessions can make a world of difference in improving chapter morale and effectiveness.

16. Take advantage of all Greek life has to offer.

InterfraternalismOn campus, it can be easy for chapters to focus entirely on their own group of women - as well as the all-encompassing loyalty they have for their sorority – while at times forgetting that Phi Sigma Sigma is one of 26 member organizations of the National Panhellenic Conference dedicated to sharing common ideals, supporting women and improving the world around us.

Top chapters embrace Phi Sig’s highly esteemed place in the greater interfraternal world – on your specific campus, as well as internationally – and they perform significant outreach to include other sorority chapters and fraternal organizations of all kinds into their philanthropic and social activities.

Fact: The more involved your chapter is on an interfraternal level, the more enriching, and rewarding, your Phi Sigma Sigma and Greek experience will be – not just during your collegiate years, but throughout your life!

17. Strengthen your connections with Fraternity personnel.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the very best chapters purposefully seek, and strive hard to keep, good and trusting relationships with HQ staffers and alumnae volunteers, especially their chapter key advisors. These women are much more than “older sisters” who guide you on best practices: They are dedicated mentors and leaders in their own right who bring to the table an admirable desire to make a positive impact on your life, as well as the lives of everyone in your chapter.

TIP: Working together as a chapter, discuss ideas related to these two questions -
  • “What can we do to strengthen our relationships with key Fraternity alumnae leaders?”
  • “What should they understand about us and our goals and hopes for the future of this chapter and our membership - and how can we communicate that for maximum relationship-building?”
Trust is a two-way street. Great advisors will steer your chapter in the right direction while respecting your ability to try new ideas that can lead to even greater success. Great chapters will listen carefully whenever an advisor speaks up, weighing the pros and cons of her advice and trying to understand the wisdom in her well-intentioned suggestions.

18. Be proactive in guarding Phi Sig’s image – on campus and off.

Kutztown UniversityBeyond wearing your letters with pride, the most important way you can promote and preserve Phi Sig’s excellent image is by encouraging members of your chapter to align their in-person and online images, specifically on Facebook or MySpace. Phi Sig sisters are women of character, purpose, passion and conviction who represent themselves consistently, whether in public or on the Internet (especially when our name or letters are prominently featured on their profile pages).

TIP: As a chapter, agree to certain codes of conduct online, and educate sisters about social-networking user settings that can protect their privacy while publicly celebrating the great things about being in a dynamic, fun and close-knit sisterhood like Phi Sigma Sigma.
Additionally, circulate our story about how to protect your online Phi Sig image among your sisters.

19. Review and follow Chapter Excellence guidelines.

Did you know Phi Sig’s Chapter Excellence program has been going strong for more than a decade? We’ve been helping define and refine standards of top performance for chapters longer than most Greek organizations with similar programs – and we’re one of the first (if not the first) to make our program paperless as of this year, creating a new level of accuracy, timeliness and convenience for our chapters! (Yay, us!)

For chapters that are serious about “kicking it up a notch,” doing so is literally as simple as following these steps:
  • Access our new Chapter Excellence Program Guide on the secure, “sisters only” section of our Web site.
  • Review the minimum requirements for top performance in four areas (self, chapter, campus/community and Fraternity), as well as the easy-to-read master calendar.
  • Brainstorm and plan events and activities that meet or exceed the minimum standards.
  • File required reports and EVFs (Event Verification Forms), following the instructions carefully.
That’s it! Your chapter leaders and advisors received training about the new Chapter Excellence program earlier this year. For more information, contact your membership manager.

20. Build plenty of fun and free time into your sorority schedule.

Want to know the best tip of all 20 we have shared with you? This is it!
Linfield College
The Phi Sigma Sigma experience is diverse and enriching – giving thousands of young women like you opportunities to explore their leadership potential, achieve even greater academic accomplishments, try new skills and more. But we are, at heart, an organization of women who enjoy the company of remarkable sisters in every walk of life, at every age: women who share our values, our joy for living, our optimism about the future and our belief that, working together, we can and do have a positive impact in this world.

Some of the best sorority memories you’ll make in college will happen when you’re hanging out with your girlfriends – laughing, talking, growing and living. So be sure your chapter intentionally schedules "time off” time from mandatory events (i.e., “Ph
i Sig-free weekends,” as some chapters call them) or, conversely, plans voluntary group events like watching a movie at the house, eating dinner together, making a Thanksgiving meal before break, etc. It can make all the difference between a chapter that's good and one that's GREAT!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have you enjoyed this Top 20 series? Looking for even more great ideas? Watch every issue of Phi Sig Savvy for “tiptop tips” (located at the bottom of the e-newsletter). E-mail communications@phisigmasigma.org to share your tips. If we use them, we’ll give you credit – and your sisters will have you to thank for helping them achieve chapter stardom!


Get more information!

    Want more details about any of the ideas in this article? Contact your membership manager by calling Phi Sigma Sigma at 410-799-1224, or e-mail us at phisighq@phisigmasigma.org.