Slacktivism vs. Activism
In recent years, the concept of “slacktivism” has been volleyed around the Internet, recycling a generally depressing conversation about lazy activists. Slacktivists, who are generally young adults, are those who inflate their persona via social media by frequently clicking “like” on cause-related posts or re-tweeting a non-profit’s plea for funds.
This knee-jerk clicking gives the impression that the person is a respectable social activist; however, as a recent study found, token support doesn’t imply true activism, and it doesn’t increase the likelihood that slacktivists will engage in more effective community service later.
So, what is real activism?
Real activism is mobilized when people find that their personal values align with those of a cause. Activists might begin with small or private efforts, and later volunteer for larger and more regular service efforts. Real activists know that causes can’t be served by “likes,” and they are drawn to philanthropy that involves strategic planning, education, and reflection.
While some might assume that real activists are always grown professionals, taking a look at universities across the country will reveal a surprising concentration of young and genuine activists.
Activism in Greek Life
Members of university-based Greek organizations engage in philanthropic efforts that demonstrate genuine activist qualities. And, their efforts often lead members to participate in meaningful service in the future.
Nationwide, sororities and fraternities organize fundraisers and community service efforts to support an adopted cause. These sisters and brothers aren’t slacking behind their screens, clicking “like” as fast as they scroll; they’re often drawn to a certain chapter because of the cause it serves, and they readily volunteer and fundraise for the cause.
Many chapters have established veritable service-learning efforts, in which their service projects are designed to engage volunteers in regular and meaningful work, educate volunteers as well the general community, and involve time for reflection.
For example, across the nation, the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) volunteer and raise money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BBBS), a national organization that pairs mentors with disadvantaged youth. Not only do the local chapters host fundraisers for BBBS, but some brothers also volunteer as mentors, or “bigs.” Creighton University’s SigEp chapter has seen rapid growth in the number of brothers matched with “littles,” and members also volunteer at BBBS in other capacities. This variety in volunteering activities helps the brothers understand the complexities of issues their “littles” face. As a result, their service doesn’t feel like service at all, indicating a genuine desire and sense of duty to help the cause.
The sisters at Elon University’s Alpha Xi Delta sorority (AXID) work alongside autistic children and young adults on special projects. Sisters volunteer weekly or monthly, and in doing so, they develop relationships with the people they serve. They get to know their families, too, deepening their understanding of autism and how it affects both autistic people and their caregivers. As a result, sorority volunteers are better equipped to host successful fundraising events, maximize their charitable impact, and educate others about autism-related issues.
Impact and Future Considerations
Creighton’s SigEp and Elon’s AXID are just two examples in the extensive list of remarkable Greek-based community service activities. They, like many others, show the traditional hallmarks of quality activism such as:
- They have clearly defined objectives.
- They include fundraising and volunteering.
- They involve both regular service and one-time events.
- They engage volunteers with the beneficiaries.
- They educate volunteers and others.
- They include time for reflection.
Across the nation, sorority and fraternity members report millions of community service hours each year, raising tens of millions of dollars for worthy causes. Indeed, these young people are far from slacktivist; they are implementing creative, meaningful ways to serve needy causes.
Much research has revealed that those who participate in community service in their youth are more likely to continue doing so as adults. Greek alumni are no different. It’s no surprise that many individuals who belong to Greek organizations in college ultimately become public servants in their careers, or that they otherwise continue contributing money or volunteering time as adults.
While current statistics highlight the noteworthy work of young, Greek-based activists, some researchers suggest that it is in each Greek organization’s best interest to invest in more robust tracking systems. This would enable them to streamline reports for their organization nationwide and report individual chapters’ accomplishments in more detail. Plus, such information would help inform philanthropic strategies in the future, allowing subsequent members to build upon the already significant impact of their predecessors.
Interested in how you or your organization can use MobileServe to aid in tracking and monitoring service hours? Click on the link below to learn more!