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A Blueprint to Running The Yard as A Black Fraternity or Sorority

Spring 2014, is when I heard someone say to me, “ The Real Work Begins Now”. I was excited to embark on membership, but I did not know what to truly expect. Little did I know that this phrase would stick with me for the next nine years as I advised thousands of college students. It made me wonder, what does it truly mean to say, “the real work begins”? And what does it take to effectively “Run The Yard” ?

The truth is, as a successful business owner, I have realized that all college organizations are businesses in their own right, especially Black fraternities and sororities. However, many of us may have missed the mark when it comes to developing and growing our organizations in a meaningful way. 

  • Are we truly putting our neos and chapter members in a position to succeed?  
  • Are we truly delivering high impactful programs or continuing with what your prophtyes have done? 
  • Are we moving towards academic achievement? This includes higher than the standard GPA requirement. 
  • Are we truly graduating and moving forward within the organization, or continuing to live our membership experience through the current neos? 

Bringing in a line is one thing, but having a chapter that continues to flourish from the fruits of your labor and effort, is another. 

So what does it mean to flourish? 

These are important questions that we must ask ourselves as we navigate the development of young Black professionals. If done correctly, your time within a chapter could elevate your skillset to a professional magnitude. I often tell my students, “You are not leading a small organization; you’re leading a business that has been able to stand the test of time for centuries.” Small mind = small mindset. We have to move towards thinkinking and living with a “big business mindset

Throughout this article, we’ll delve deeper into what it means to run a successful organization. We’ll explore strategies for developing and growing your organization in a way that is both meaningful and sustainable.  Because the real work only begins, when we can truly define what and why we are doing something. We can’t be effective until we truly define why we are doing something. Let’s dive into the Blueprint!

Understanding the Assignment

Know Your Position: Knowing your position within your organization is one thing, but understanding how to advance your organization’s position is another. It is important to understand the optics of your organization and how to leverage them to achieve your goals. Oftentimes we say, “ the real work begins” once the new presentation is over, but what if we were intentional with showing new members what that was?

  • Create a new member onboarding process, which should include some sort of process flow and standard operating procedures (consider hyperlinking to external sites on what those two things are.
  • Considered leveraging a google folder or dropbox to create a transition pathway
  • Read the constitutions and bylaws, and understand how the words on the screen play out in real life situations. 
  • No expectations? That’s okay, create them for the next person. 
  • Be mindful of your sphere of control. Reflect on what you actually can get done and focus on your time and energy only on those things ( hyperlink sphere of control) 

Exceeding Expectations :Academic excellence is the key to success. Make sure that your chapter’s individual GPA and collective GPA are exceeding the average male and female GPAs on your college campus, as well as the GPAs of other organizations in the Greek community.

Bottom line: You can’t acquire someone to have a  GPA that you or the collective chapter currently doesn’t have. 

The Lay of the Land Understand the environment in which you operate. When you know the room, you can work to navigate the room. Build a relationship and partnership with the building and outside of your land. 

The environment includes: campus culture, the strengths and weaknesses of your organization, the office that supports the organizations, your national organization on a local and regional level, and the resources available to you.

Get On Yo Zoom: 

You are the Blueprint and the final draft! 

  • It is time to get organized. Do you know where all the documents and resources are for your organization? 
  • Establish communication efforts. Is the groupme for business or social activity? There should be a separation. I say, emails hold people accountable, I cannot keep up with text messages. 
  • Are you scheduling meetings outside of chapter to get tasks done, or working in chapter? 
  • Do you have a calendar for chapter meetings and events? 
  • Leverage Workflows and Standard Operating Procedures – How To Guides Help
  • Use the M.O.C.H.A. Model to Delegate Tasks and hold each other accountable  
  • Invest in a Project Management System (like ASANA or SLACK) ( Entrepreneurs use these tools all the time, and you are a business owner. Have a project management system. 

Program with a purpose: 

Programming with a Purpose, Not for the Pros: Instead of focusing on impressing others or winning awards, it’s important to create programs that serve a purpose and align with your organization’s mission and provide a focal point for the black community. While it’s important to honor the legacy and successes of the past, it’s also necessary to reassess the current climate of the world and adapt accordingly. By staying attuned to the current needs of your audience and community, you can create programs that are relevant and effective in today’s world.

Free Game for Programing:

  • Identify Your Target Audience 
  • Ask yourself: Is the current program still relevant to the current audience?
  • Asset and Reassess the program with receiving feedback from participants
  • Always connect it back to the mission of the organization and institution
  • Start to think of about a framework to programming: Here’s a start  5 C’s of Event Management

Always Willing to Lead and Serve: Be willing to lead and serve your organization and the community it serves. A boss always knows when to lead and when to get their hands dirty. 

This includes active participation in community service per member and as a chapter. This includes being the person who continues to volunteer past 

Always the Topic and the Discussion

 Be an organization of value within your institution, producing and advancing the black community. Someone should always say, “ Where are they not on campus”. You can’t run the yard, if you’re not on the yard and at the front line of the conversations.

Showing the Receipts:

Produce quality work and show evidence of it. Be intentional about who you select and the work they produce. ( i.e the executive board positions, versus committee positons. 

Receipts: Applying for awards local, regional, and on a national level. Providing a paper trail of the work and accomplishments. 

Examples: Create a Linktree or something similar

Reach out to the local radio, school, and newspapers to cover your events. 

Exceeding Expectations :Academic excellence is the key to success. Make sure that your chapter’s individual GPA and collective GPA are exceeding the average male and female GPAs on your college campus, as well as the GPAs of other organizations in the Greek community.

Step 5: Understanding the Rules to Playing the Game 

Understand the policies and procedures that govern your organization, and be intentional about advancing your organization within those guidelines.

  • Have an understanding of whose rules are superseding whose? 
  • This includes: Organizational Policies, University Policies, and Council Policies 

Figure out where the Money Resides 

Understand your organization’s finances, target audience, and what they need. Be intentional about how you spend money and provide financial longevity for your organization.

  • Do you have a financial plan in place?
  •  How much money do you need to sustain the chapter? 
  • How much money do you need to contribute to gifts, and other monetary items? 

About the Author: LaShatá M. Grayson is an award-winning educational consultant, founder of Carrying The Weight and Co-Owner of the Parallel Agency. LaShatá specializes in various programmatic areas, including diversity and inclusion, Fraternities and Sororities, first-generation college students, and curriculum development. She has committed herself to creating inclusive and equitable spaces is exemplified through her social action work as a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.