In my first few months as the volunteer engagement and education director, I was fortunate to embark on a listening tour to meet with current and former SigEp volunteers across the country. The goal was to learn about what’s working for volunteers and where we need to improve, so we can enrich both the value you get from being a SigEp volunteer and the value you provide to chapters and undergraduate leaders. The tour included meeting with volunteers in 24 cities as well as virtually.
Five priorities emerged from the hundreds of conversations:
- Volunteers value thorough, consistent onboarding, education and training.
- To ensure exceptional mentoring and advising of our undergraduate members, volunteers need strong staff support and networking opportunities.
- Volunteers have a general understanding of the strategic plan and are looking for a call to action to help advance the objectives.
- Volunteers would like a consistent feedback loop to share their experiences and ideas with the Fraternity leadership.
- Volunteers need to be supported and appreciated.
With these themes in mind, we have identified our volunteer vision. As we work to build our volunteer corps to 15,000 alumni and friends mentoring, advising and coaching our undergraduates, our work must be rooted in (1) volunteer engagement and (2) education. Both are necessary to achieve the strategic plan objective that “SigEp chapters are made successful by a diverse group of volunteers, empowered to support a healthy chapter experience and mentor undergraduates.”
To achieve this objective, based on feedback from the listening tour, SigEp is committed to these key strategies in the immediate future, and will continue to assess and evolve volunteer support:
- To engage new volunteers, we must be able to communicate with them — and “we” means their chapters, AVCs and the national Fraternity. To do this, we’ll continue the massive campaign to secure/update contact information and reacquaint alumni with the SigEp of today. This includes (1) helping AVCs find “lost” brothers through new web tools, (2) providing avenues for more consistent communication at the AVC/chapter level, (3) conducting regular updates through postal service and email tools, and (4) completing efforts like the recent Oral History Project.
- With the addition of thousands of new volunteers, orientation and development programs must be capable of reaching new and experienced volunteers with valuable learning opportunities critical to their respective roles. Our volunteer development committee — under the leadership of Wendell Rakosky, Baldwin Wallace ’78 — is already at work creating the framework for volunteer education that will begin at the 2023 Carlson Leadership Academies and Grand Chapter Conclave. The committee is also looking at how to streamline virtual resources and education, as well as introducing a new volunteer recognition award to be implemented in 2023.
- The role of the district governor (DG) is critical to the success of the volunteer engagement and education experience because our DGs are charged with the recruitment, education and recognition of volunteers. The national board of directors is working diligently to identify and appoint DGs to fill all vacancies, and SigEp will host a leadership and training conference for DGs this August in Dallas.
- The work to recruit volunteers is a shared responsibility between the local chapter, AVC, DG and support team at SigEp Headquarters. We will explore many avenues for volunteer recruitment, including better equipping undergraduate leaders, shifting understanding that you can serve anywhere — not just as an alumnus for your home chapter, and implementing strategies to engage young alumni.
SigEp’s courageous leadership in the fraternity world is differentiated by the people we bring together and the powerful experiences and supportive environments we provide. You are instrumental to the organization’s success. What you do matters immensely — one thing that’s reaffirmed every year in our annual Brotherhood Assessment is the distinct impact volunteers have on healthy chapter culture! We cannot thank you enough for what you do. With your insight and feedback, we look forward to enhancing the volunteer experience for tomorrow’s undergraduates.