This week, I was able to attend the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors Michigan Drive-In Conference. A hot topic of discussion centered around the value of service learning within our fraternity and sorority community. This discussion got me thinking of how we can be more intentional with our philanthropic endeavors in order to equally impact both the organizations we are supporting and our members.
Philanthropy is something that we, as fraternity and sorority members, take great pride in. We see the value in supporting organizations that work for the betterment of life and society. In addition to the amazing monetary contributions of our fraternity and sorority communities, the opportunity exists for our members to have a truly life changing experience while doing philanthropy work.
I can look back to my own life changing moment when I was a freshman, and new member in my chapter. While working with the Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania, I was able to meet an amazing girl named Lyndsey. Despite undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Lyndsey and her family came out to support our community during our Bounce Marathon fund raising event. Seeing her strength and her commitment to the initiatives of Easter Seals made me want to work even harder to raise funds for the organization. As a result of that experience, I devoted the remainder of my undergraduate experience, as well as my professional career to encouraging other fraternity and sorority members to partake in a similar experience.
Understanding the value of this type of experience for our members, here are some things that your organization can do to make your philanthropic efforts truly life changing moments in your members lives:
Identify an organization that has a connection to your members or your organization (this may have already been done for you by you national headquarters already). That connection will encourage participation amongst your members. If your members can relate to the cause, they will be far more likely to devote their time and energy, as well as to educate others and advocate for the organization.
If you already have a philanthropic organization designated by your national headquarters, and your not sure why, feel free to give them a call and ask why they chose that organization.
Meet With The Organization
During the planning stage of your event, take the time to meet with the individuals and/or organization that you will be supporting. Identify exactly why it is that they need your support, and figure out how you can best do so. Bring as many members as possible to this meeting, this message needs to permeate your chapter.
Educate Your Members
Before the event, take the time to explain to your members why this philanthropic endeavor was chosen by the organization, and the impact that will be made as a result of their efforts. Ask for a representative(s) from you chosen organization to come to your chapter meeting, or host a specific event just for them. Allow them to explain to your members the benefits and value of their work. Putting a name and face on the organization will have a tremendous impact on your members willingness to support them.
Work WITH The Organization
Keep a close connection with the organization. Give them a seat at the table when your planning the event. Ask them to be present at your event as a means to motivate members as well as those who you wish to donate. You may be surprised at how willing an organization can be to support your efforts. Creating this positive relationship will make things much easier in the future.
Celebrate Your Success
The worst thing you can do after a philanthropy event is to announce how much money you raised at chapter meeting, and never speak of it again. Whether it is on site at your event, or a later date, take the time to recognize the hard work of your members, and the impact that you have made. This can take several forms but should make a point to differentiate this program from any other event that your organization participates in.
Take these steps, and hopefully you will turn your arduous fundraiser into a truly impactful, and potentially life changing experience for your members. Do you have a similar experience, or have ideas to improve philanthropy events, make sure to share them here.