As the Philanthropy Chair for your fraternity or sorority, you are faced with a complex task: lead your organization’s primary mission of philanthropy and rally your brothers or sisters behind it. Although everyone might agree that, as privileged college students, you should engage in service activities, not everyone will be so motivated when the volunteer sign-up sheet lands in their laps.
Still, you know that your Greek organization’s philanthropy is a reflection of its character, and you want to make yours shine. Let’s look at some simple strategies to unify your group and preserve the integrity of your philanthropic efforts.
Not all volunteer opportunities are created equal. Be careful not to choose events simply to fill community service hours, otherwise you’ll have a bunch of bored and disgruntled volunteers who won’t be inclined to volunteer next time. Make sure volunteer opportunities are fun and meet the interests of your group. You can ensure this by conducting a survey to ascertain what kinds of activities your group enjoys. Then, to the best of your ability, select events that meet the criteria indicated by your group. You could also find out if there are causes that are close to the hearts of the people in your group. For example, if a member in your organization has a disabled family member, your chapter might be motivated to volunteer for a cause associated with the disability because they know and care about someone affected by it. The more you listen to the suggestions and interests of your group, the more participation you’ll see at events.
Partner with other Greek organizations.
Let’s be frank, sometimes all the motivation you need is the partnership with another fraternity or sorority. In fact, The Fraternity Advisor practically swears by it. So, if you’re in a fraternity, partner with a sorority; if you’re in a sorority, partner with a fraternity. Find out who the Philanthropy Chair is in a potential partner organization, and discuss how your organizations can help meet each other’s philanthropic goals. If you can strike up a lasting partnership, you will not only build a robust volunteer force, but you will also cultivate important relationships within your organizations. As a result, your chapter will be more motivated to volunteer alongside a group they care about and respect.
Incorporate fundraising into regular events.
Philanthropy that requires leaving campus or performing extra labor can become a drag. As the Philanthropy Chair, pepper your philanthropy calendar with events that require very little effort from your chapter. If your Greek organization is having a party, use it as an opportunity to raise money or supplies for a specified charity. For example, if you serve a local after-school program, then “charge” party-goers school supplies as their entry fee to the party. Provide a large box where people can donate notebooks, pencils, or scissors, and post above it pictures and information about the program they are supporting. This is a very simple way to keep your chapter active in philanthropy without overworking your brothers or sisters.
Engage community supporters from the start.
Part of your job as Philanthropy Chair will be coordinating with local businesses for support. This might mean asking a local restaurant to provide food at an event or asking a store to donate supplies to facilitate your service project. Although you’ll give them some effective marketing in exchange for their donations, take it a step further and engage them from the start. Invite one or two of their representatives to your planning meetings, so that they understand how much work goes into preparing for your event. Also, invite them to the event itself, so that they can see firsthand how their donations are helping. Engaging your community supporters from the beginning allows your group to form relationships with them. This strategy is important for two reasons:
- It helps them see the value of their donation.
- Through service, they will learn from your sisters or brothers, and vice versa.
The role of Philanthropy Chair is a tough but rewarding position. Many who have served this role remark that it was the most challenging job they have ever done, but that they grew more confident and learned valuable leadership skills as a result of it. Veterans of the role have reflected that although it is impossible to please everyone or plan for every obstacle, if you listen to your chapter members and network with other Philanthropy Chairs, you will equip yourself with the necessary tools to rally your chapter in the best way possible.
Learn more about how your Greek organization can better track and monitor your community service and philanthropy.