Have you ever heard the mantra actions speak louder than words? Of course you have. Generally it is invoked when we are skeptical about someone who talks a big game or when describing someone who lets their actions speak for them. We hear, and oftentimes without a second thought say, that phrase so many times that we rarely take a second to think about how it can apply to more than just those two scenarios.
I want you to think about how this phrase applies to your Alpha. And I’m not talking about how your Brothers might act on a day-to-day basis in a way that contradicts your Alpha’s self-identified values. No, I want you to think of your Alpha has being an individual.While not being a real live human being, your Alpha still has a birth, hometown, place of address, relations with sororities, parents (read: the college), etc. When your Alpha throws a social event it is not an insert-your-own-name-here party–>it’s a Chi Psi social event. Everything that your Alpha decides to do as an organization combines into a concrete, fraternal experience.
So now that I have you thinking about Chi Psi as an individual, how does Chi Psi do things? It uses its budget! At our core we are a gentlemen’s fraternity. Any well-run pledge education system focuses on cultivating discussion on the values and actions of a gentleman. Our budget supports the fulfillment of that purpose. Analyze how your Alpha chooses to spend its budget and you will find out for yourself just how much it lives up to the Chi Psi standard. I recently sat in on an Alpha discussing their summer recruitment plans. One of the proposed events was going to cost the Alpha $1,000. When I was the recruitment chairmen for my Alpha my entire budget was in the $1,200-1,500 neighborhood. I was shocked that there was no opposition to such an expensive event. I quickly did the math: Assume that the average coffee date costs $15, lasts an hour, and will dramatically increases the chances that a PNM will accept a bid. With the $1,000 dollars you could set up 67 effective and efficient coffee dates.
Everyone in the room agreed with me that there was no way they could get 60 plus kids out to this event, the number was more like 25-30. I know that many of you could have hit that number but bear with me. Some Alphas will rent out part or all of a restaurant for two hours, costing around $250-400 and will typically see anywhere from 60-90 men walk through the doors. Part of the reason for that success is because those Alphas focus on smaller interactions (coffee dates, drawing from high school/campus organizations) to fuel the bigger recruitment events (renting a restaurant, paintball, kayaking, etc). By taking Stanley Birge’s approach to recruiting, Chi Psi is able to be more successful than the majority of the chapters on certain campuses by spending a fraction of the cost. Think about how your Alpha could deploy a different strategy to reduce costs, not just from this recruitment basis but in other areas.
On the other side of the coin, sometimes the budget will tell us whether an Alpha really does value everything it says it does. Every group I talk to would love to have a better connection to their alumni group. A good many of them will then devote thousands of dollars to their formal, but will refuse to spend a fraction of that to mail alumni newsletters to event invitations. Every Alpha would like better relations with sororities, but how many find it wise to spend $50 on one for their Founders Day or supporting their philanthropy? No, we would rather spend $500-700 for a social/mixer which is really only fun for both groups when they know each other outside of that event before it happens.
One last area I will touch on is philanthropy. By spending a little bit of your budget and time you can host an event that literally has no downsides. The list of benefits:
- it dramatically can improve the community’s image of fraternities
- makes you seen as a model fraternity by campus officials
- further strengthens or develops relationships with sororities
- gives your Alpha’s leadership a great opportunity to learn how to execute an event relying on multiple partnerships (marketing, working with vendors/charities/the campus)
- makes your Alpha feel good for donating time and money to a worthwhile cause
- gives your Alums something that they can concretely point to as to why their donations are worth it
Ultimately, the fraternal experience that you want is going to have its restrictions. Your Alpha will be restricted by its reputation on campus, its Lodge, the pressure to live up to or to not emulate the group that came before you, etc. What I would like you to do is to not let your budget be another restriction.
The way your Alpha spends its money speaks louder than what you or anyone else on campus says about Chi Psi. Go to your #4 and ask him to walk you through the budget. Ask him and the rest of the executive committee about the rationale behind the budget allocation. Brainstorm and come up with ways that you can make the Alpha’s money go further to advance our values and mission as Chi Psi gentlemen. If you find a reality different from what you perceived make a U-turn and go the other way! I encourage you to ask yourself what your Alpha’s balance sheet looks like.