The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross

Keeping Everyone Interested

 There isn't any real deep secret to keeping everyone interested ... everyone is interested. The only catch is they are not always interested in exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, this often leads to people joining together in groups interested in exactly the same things - to the point where boredom is an inevitable result. We can be thankful that this is not the case with Beta Sigma Phi.

 The most successful chapters of Beta Sigma Phi have found that the secret lies in fulfilling the interests of the members - not in trying to interest the members in arbitrary projects of the chapter. This seems like a paradox since the chapter is really the members; so how can the chapter have any interests but theirs? It's very simple!

 The members are individuals and the chapter is a group; and when the group or parts of the group in their capacities as officers or committees begin to consider what shall be done, they sometimes lose sight of the individual interests of the members. One of the basic tenets of motivational research is that people cannot tell you what they want. There is really a tendency, when you ask people what they want, for them to tell you what they think you want to hear. The answer to this, so far as a Beta Sigma Phi chapter is concerned, is a survey of the interests of the individual member - a survey that can provide each member with complete anonymity.


 Many places in Beta Sigma Phi call for the practice of enlightened selfishness on the part of the member. This is another of those places. If a member's generosity leads her to express her desires and wishes for the chapter in a way that she conceives to be the interests of the other members and not her own, nothing has been accomplished. A completely anonymous survey that allows each member to express her own interests and desires is of real value. The officers or the committees of the chapter can take these true expressions and arrange the activities of the chapter in such a way that the greatest number of the individual interests of each member can be fulfilled. Just at first, this will seem to require the wisdom of a Solomon, but it isn't so! Because you are asking for interests that would legitimately fall within the framework of Beta Sigma Phi, there is a great tendency for the expressed interests to be somewhat uniform. In any case, there would not be a very wide variation. The different interests are possible to reconcile. International has available information on an Interest Survey that may be used by any chapter. A simplified one can be found in The Strawberry Patch (go to the index and click Member Interest Survey.) Or, contact your Division Chairman at


 Finding out what the members want is only the first step in planning. To maintain the interest of every member in the activities of the chapter, several other things are necessary. First among these is balance. Even if every member of the chapter indicated a very great interest in service work, this would not mean that the individual members or the chapter as a whole wished to do service to the exclusion of everything else. Month in and month out, service projects are almost certain to produce weariness, boredom and disinterest. Even a year devoted exclusively to the very best of parties would very rapidly lose its flavor. A year that is balanced between social, cultural and service activities will maintain its flavor and zest; interest will be constantly renewed because no one phase of the organization is being run into the ground.


 It is almost an axiom that a chapter weak in cultural programs will be extremely weak in membership interest. This statement does not in any way imply that the simple presentation of a cultural program at each meeting is enough. Poorly prepared or badly presented cultural programs can lead to disinterest as quickly, or even more quickly, than no cultural programs at all. It takes almost no more effort to present a good cultural program than it does to present a bad one.

 The program committee should set a standard of program presentation and preparation that will assure the chapter's enjoyment and interest. To do this, the work of the program committee should start as soon as the committee is appointed, and it should go on until the committee for the next year takes over. If the cultural programs of the chapter have not been up to a good standard, the committee should take every care to see that the first one or two programs of the year are exceptionally good, and that they set the standard for all the rest of the programs for the year. They should make suggestions for the development and presentation for each program session that will guide and assist the members who are presenting that particular session. The word "members" was used advisedly, because the programs should always be presented by more than one member whenever possible.

 The use of the team plan of program presentation - coupled with the use of visual aids, movies, tapes or CD's, charts, and demonstrations - will make the chapter's cultural programs fascinating and help to hold the interest of every member. The occasional use of an outside speaker will also help to secure interest.


 A very important step in holding the interest of individual members is the proper planning and conduct of the business meeting. No one wants to attend an overlong, tiresome, unproductive business meeting that is full of indecision, haggling, and completely lacking in effectiveness. Several very simple things will assure a brief, effective business meeting.

 The first and most important is regular meetings of the Executive Board of the chapter. Even very brief meetings will enable the Executive Board to dispose of quite a lot of business that need not be handled by the entire chapter membership. These meetings also allow the best possible planning of the conduct of the business meeting itself.

 Committee work is equally important. The entire purpose of a committee is to represent the chapter in matters of planning, which can be done much more efficiently by a few people than by the chapter as a whole. Since the chapter still has the right of accepting the committee plans or rejecting them, no purpose is served by interminable discussion in chapter meetings of affairs that can be more quickly and efficiently researched, discussed and planned by a committee. In addition, a committee allows each member to have the great concentration upon these things, which are of a special interest to her. This obviously increases the opportunity of keeping each member interested.


 Of all the things in the world that can promote disinterest in the members of a chapter, perpetual ways and means projects are at the very top of the list. Nothing in the world is sadder than a Beta Sigma Phi whose friends have begun to think of her as a walking raffle book. If a proper balance of chapter activities is maintained, a chapter of Beta Sigma Phi needs very little money. However, if the financial affairs of the chapter are not well planned, it seems to work out that no amount of money is enough.

 By arranging a very simple budget, the chapter can go a long way toward eliminating the interest-killing financial affairs of the chapter. There is no mystery about a budget; it is simply a matter of balancing the expected income of the chapter against the expenditures that need to be made. The philosophy of making a budget is the most important thing, and that philosophy should be to determine how little money the chapter needs.

 In planning ways and means projects, the chapter should not go about raising money and then looking for a way of spending it. Many and many a chapter has found that it is much more expensive to raise money for the chapter's parties than it is to pay for the parties in the first place.


 Undoubtedly, the second greatest interest-killer is a chapter than becomes a service club. Granted, the ritual of Beat Sigma Phi says the only right you have is the right to be useful, but it does not say the only right you have is the right to be of service. There is a magnificent difference between the two. Becoming ever a better member, a better individual, the member becomes more and more useful in every phase of her life. She is more useful to her family, to her employer, to her church, and to her community, and most important, to herself. The generous hearts of Beta Sigma Phis have led them to do a great deal of service work, but the amount of service work should be very carefully controlled so that it not only produces the highest spiritual reward for the individual member, but also the great reward of recognition and accomplishment for the chapter. Lots of little service projects all bundled together have the effect of wearing the chapter out and overworking them for little accomplishment, and generally little recognition and reward.

 One or perhaps two really good service projects to which all the members of the chapter can devote their interests are enough for any chapter; and the concentration of effort will produce not only more community recognition, but a stronger sense of cooperation and enjoyment in each member and a greater reward, which every member has a right to expect from the service work that she does. It is wise, in addition, to remember that service work and money are not synonymous. There are many services that require no expenditure of funds, but only a little time, that are at least worthwhile, if not more worthwhile, than the services, which require the raising of large sums of money.


 The basic factors of holding the interest of every member are:

  1. Finding out what the interests are.
  2. Planning to fulfill those interests.
  3. Planning to balance activity.
  4. Effective officer and committee work.
  5. Well-prepared and well-presented programs.
  6. Forethought and planning in ways and means projects, and restriction of the amount of money needed.
  7. Imagination and restraint in the approach to service work.

 None of these things is very difficult, and none of them requires a great deal of time or effort, but the return in member interest and chapter success, happiness and harmony is far beyond and all out of proportion to the amount of effort they require.


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