I love being a Sister in Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority, by Pat Herweg

My biological Sister is in heaven…she has been there for over 18 years BUT I have many Sisters that I can rely on.  Being part of Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority has been rewarding as it has been both emotional and sustaining for me.

I joined SPG 10 years ago.  I have not met a group of women who have been more loving, compassionate, and understanding.  They have supported me and encouraged me as a Sister.  We laugh, cry, complain, and argue together…but always with respect for one another.  

Our Chapter meets twice a month.   I so look forward to the time we spend together.  We work for the good of the community, which makes us better people…it is an amazing feeling.  

Last year we tried a new event, a Tea Party.  All my Chapter Sisters were so supportive.  Each took up a job and kept at it.  There was not a dishwasher at our location, and we used glass dishes for all 70 guests.  When one Sister’s back or legs gave out, a cry went up “CHANGE,” and another Sister stepped in to keep the clean dishes coming.  Everyone worked together to make our first Tea Party a huge success.  It was wonderful and heartwarming!  Now it will be an annual event.  That is why I love being a Sister in Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority.

Pat Herweg

Eta Sigma Chapter (Buffalo, NY), Omicron Province President

R’s of Membership Webinar was a First for Sigma Phi Gamma! by Donna Collins

While the weather outside my window this afternoon was cold and snowy – my heart was full of pride as we participated in the organization’s very first training webinar! Shari Pash, our Membership Strategist and consultant, provided a great training session for us all.

Shari shared with us that she is working with local, state, national, and international organizations on the topic of membership. She started the webinar by saying that she’s so impressed by Sigma Phi Gamma that she is going to start her own local Chapter! WOWSER!

My notes from the webinar follow. I hope you’ll take a moment to review and think about your role in membership growth for SPG!

Recruitment and Retention: A great resource is author and public speaker Simon Sinek and his work with WHY. What is ‘the why’ that women seek by being a member of SPG. 

The ABCs of Members: A members might be a daughter of a current member – which is often a sustainable member, someone who joins and stays! The B member is a person who stays with SPG because of relationships or active service. The C member comes for a short time and then leaves. Knowing your members is important. We need to think about membership in a more intentional way – a way to recruit with purpose.

Relational, Friendly, and Strategic: Think about the things you need to know about your Sisters and potential Sisters – What are their current cause involvement; how do they spend their extra-curricular time; how do they socialize – is it in groups, one-on-one, or via technology; what does family mean to these women. The idea is to learn more about women we approach so that we know how to talk with them from their center of interest aligning it to specific aspects of SPG.

What are the benefits of SPG:

  • Lifelong friendships – We are united through friendships and dedication to community service. We are just as busy as the busiest person you know, but we each believe that we can make a positive difference and united … we do!
  • Sisterhood – We are women of all ages and circumstances – single, married, widowed, and divorced. Some have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, aging parents, and fur babies!

Reaching Goals: Setting and reaching goals – short and long term (for example, an increased number of members and Chapters). What are the activities and outcomes – what are the intentional activities that we’re planning and doing to reach those short and long-term goals. Make sure there are strategic activities to help us reach our outcomes/goals.

Relationships: Is what we’re doing transactional or relational? It’s about the personal relational things we do in our communications and interactions that will make the biggest positive difference. Providing the high-touch with care in our relationships around membership will yield the biggest and best results.

Relevance: What is the value proposition in being an SPG member? Members aren’t buying a membership, they are really seeking connections/friendships and opportunities to serve. What’s an example of a value proposition: Our meetings are in the evening? Do all members have availability to attend meetings in the evening? Are we meeting our members’ needs?

SWOT – Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats exercise to help you learn more about what’s happening, what can be improved, and how to go about making improvements comes from doing this exercise. Use the tool in Shari’s PPT (PowerPoint presentation) to walk through membership goals and activities, or anything your Chapter does. If you want to know more about this exercise let me know and I’ll send you a copy of the PPT where you can learn more about SWOT.

Research: We need to target the best membership prospects, this is a strategy for membership growth. When we use Membee, SPG’s new database, we can collect information on members AND potential members (leads from the SPG website, for example). Knowing more about members and potential members can help Organizers know more about the connections that can be made. For example, Sue is a nurse at the local Children’s Hospital and has an interest in a skating club for exercise and fun – how can we help Sue know how to talk about SPG to her skating friends to consider membership in SPG.

Results: Measurement and accountability. What do we need to be doing? What are our recruitment activities and our goal for membership growth? Intentional membership growth takes planning and execution of strategic activities.

Written goals often result in a higher success rate (40%). Written goals and weekly accountability to those goals results in a higher success rate (80%).

Resources: Think about the use of interns, even at the Chapter level, to help with meeting planning at the Chapter or Province levels; technology assistance; marketing and social media; etc. and remember this is an opportunity to allow a young professional to get some experience in planning and working with our service sorority. Imagine inviting a young woman into the fold as an intern – she is likely to become a member because she is so impressed with our friendship and service to community.

Remember you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – there are resources already available with SPG (website; database/Membee; handbooks and guidebooks, seasoned leaders, etc.). Using existing SPG tools and new strategies and tools we have with Shari is a win-win.

Recognition: By recognizing what motivates our members is the path to knowing what will be the most meaningful ways to recognize their service and commitment to SPG. Much like our new awards represent. Recognition, however, should be consistent and intentional. Who in your Chapter is your Recognition Cheerleader? Make it a priority. Consider a written plan for recognition or at least a few guiding ‘rules.’  We have the new Hidden Champion and New-Found Treasure Awards. I hope you will honor Sisters in your Chapter. My Chapter, Xi Xi, has already submitted our honorees to Sandy Morris, International Vice President. You can’t believe how honored our Sisters were to be recognized.

New membership tools are being developed by Shari and the Advisory Committee and will be introduced in the coming months for use by all members at the Chapter, Province, and International levels.

Shari is open to hearing from SPG members with questions and ideas: 517-285-7127 shari@sharipash.com

So, our first webinar was pretty great. This was another milestone in our history! There were 50 members who registered for the webinar, and 39 participated. Not bad for our first webinar. Watch your email for information about two more webinars in the coming weeks – you won’t want to miss a thing!

I’m just loving that we are working on the strategies outlined in our Strategic Plan, we are making progress and moving ahead! Hooray for all of us!

Hugs to all,

Donna

Donna Collins

Past International President

 

Share SPG so we can grow!!! by Debbie Henize, International Historian

January is the time for thinking of new beginnings and starting over.  But for Sigma Phi it is the time to start thinking of Province Meetings.  Our Province Officers are working hard to get ready.  Some of these Officers are nervous because it is their first time serving.  Others are veterans ready to help.  No matter in what capacity we are serving, we are all here to serve our Sigma Phi Sisters and our communities.  

As I think about what Sigma Phi means to me, I think back at one of my early Province meetings.  Liz Oleksak was our visiting International Officer.  This is Liz Cochran for those of you who may not know.  She taught us how to say her name phonically.  Just a small thing but a big memory.  I remember thinking about how I could do that someday.   (I mean serve on Council, not sound out her name.)  In my early years in Sigma Phi many Officers and members were much older than I was and sometimes I wondered how I fit in, especially at International.  Liz was a young face and someone that I could relate to.  Liz probably never knew how she influenced me many years ago.  You may be that person to someone else.  Find that new face in the crowd and sit down with them.  Share your love of Sigma Phi with current and potential Sisters.  It may make a big difference to someone.  It did to me.

You probably have your own fond memories of Province time with your Sisters.  Many of your Sisters would love to hear your stories of what sorority has meant to you.  Potential members might find your stories interesting as well.  Please share them in a Blog post or at your next social events.  The more we share sorority the more we grow.

TWO NEW AWARDS AVAILABLE FOR HONORING YOUR SISTERS! by SPG International Advisory Committee

Women join Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority for countless reasons, and underneath it all most members are motivated by what they get to do when serving others. When members know their time and energy are appreciated, and that they are valued by other Sigma Phi Gamma members, they really commit themselves to the ideals of the organization. SPG members also want to know that their service is helping the greater good for individuals and communities —that together we make a huge positive impact in other people’s lives. And, through our mission we are changing the world for the better. Therefore, member recognition is one of the most powerful ways we can highlight all that is good and thank our members for their efforts.

Several years ago, realizing that 25 years is a LONG time to wait to be recognized, the International Council added 5, 10, 15, and 20-year certificates to our member recognition program, to be presented at the Chapter and/or Province levels. (You’re taking care of these recognitions each year, right?!) So, why not think about other ways of recognizing strong and hardworking members!

The International Advisory Committee acknowledged the need for recognizing the impact of our members’ service work during the development of our strategic plan. We wanted to honor members, no matter how long they have been with SPG. We created two new awards:

The New Found Treasure Award recognizes the efforts of a member who is new to Sigma Phi Gamma and has hit the ground running! This woman’s performance is so outstanding that it merits recognition at the Chapter, Province, and/or International levels.

The Hidden Champion Award recognizes the efforts of a member who embodies the Sigma Phi Gamma principle to help where needed. The member is available to provide above and beyond support for special projects, ongoing tasks, and supports Sigma Phi Gamma projects at the Chapter, Province, and/or International levels. The member’s outstanding service has a positive impact on Sigma Phi Gamma and merits recognition.

Each Chapter may nominate one member for each award every year. The nomination forms, with the full criteria, are available on the Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority website and are due by April 15 to the International Vice President. 2019 will be the inaugural year for these new awards … help make history and recognize your Sisters! Who will your Chapter nominate?

We look forward to recognizing a large group New Found Treasures and Hidden Champions at our International Convention in Wichita, Kansas! 

SPG International Advisory Committee

Deb Juracich, Chair; Donna Collins, Liz Cochrane, and Cindy Stath

Let’s Think Like Middle Schoolers! By Deb Juracich, International Counselor

My journey back into teaching this school year has been a rewarding whirlwind.  Times have changed since I taught seventeen years ago.  Teaching at Metro Early College Middle School is a dream come true.  Metro is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) school.  As a requirement, the students participate in a Design Challenge.  This year the Challenge is focused on Smart Columbus. Students are challenged to use their imagination to create a transportation system that provides access to everyone.  Students use the Stanford Design Thinking Process to prepare a written component, build a prototype, and create a presentation of their solution.  Students have to understand empathy, putting themselves in the shoes of those who have no access to transportation, and develop an authentic solution.  

WOW!  I have been blown away with their imaginative, creative solutions to providing smart transportation for everyone!  The students problem solve freely, are open-minded, and have no constraints.

This got me thinking.  What would happen if we as SPG members thought like middle schoolers to provide and implement authentic solutions to the membership and growth of our organization?  What would Sigma Phi Gamma look like in the future?  If our responses to the questions are anything like the solutions generated from the Design Challenge at Metro, I bet SPG would be thriving!  Let’s try to tackle our growth and expansion with an open mindset.  Like those imaginative, creative, problem solving middle schoolers!