How strong is the connection between your chapters and your national philanthropy? Although service is a core component of the fraternity and sorority experience, many chapters struggle to implement philanthropy projects that support their national philanthropy partner. What can you as a headquarters do to support meaningful engagement between your chapters and your national philanthropy?
Coordinate a National Day of Volunteering
Facilitating a nation-wide day of service is a great way open up the door to a relationship between your chapters and your national philanthropy. Chapters don’t lack motivation, but they do lack ideas on how to get involved. With one centrally organized and structured activity, chapters gain a great jumping off point from which they can start their own relationship with your philanthropic partner.
Talk with your national philanthropy to understand their needs, and brainstorm ways that every chapter in every community can make an impactful contribution to their mission. From spending a day reading with underprivileged youth, to teaching a women’s self defense class for their community, to beautifying a local park, find one activity that can unite all of your chapters towards a common purpose.
Too many times, we’ll send one email to our chapters and think that we’ve done enough. But through experience working with your members, we know that these college students are so busy, and have their attention diverted in so many different directions, that you need to reach out to them repeatedly through any and every medium that they’re using. Give concrete and timely suggestions for community service activities via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and your blog. And when they complete these activities, encourage them to share on social media to connect to your larger fraternity or sorority network. Let one chapter show off their philanthropy, and inspire other chapters to do the same.
When you’re promoting your philanthropy, remember to make it personal! Showcase the results of previous volunteering activities that have supported your national philanthropy so that your members can understand their potential impact. But also reiterate why it’s important to the fraternity or sorority experience, and even what’s in it for them! Participating in community service has far-ranging benefits from strengthening a resume, to developing leadership capacity, to strengthening bonds of brotherhood or sisterhood through a shared experience.
Hold them Accountable
To really motivate your chapters to put philanthropy at the top of their agenda, it’s a smart idea to make it a membership requirement, mandating a certain number of community service hours per individual, or that chapters host a certain number of philanthropy events per year. In our own experience, the difference in completion of suggested versus required activities is dramatic (we’ve seen this play out everywhere from sending alumni communications, to making a chapter budget, to updating membership rosters, and more). When a certain outcome is important to your organization and its values, we always recommend going the ‘required’ route.
A great way to track this requirement is to use the ChapterSpot ServiceHours app. It’s a simple interface where your members can log community service hours for their chapter. Your headquarters group can then use your version of the app to see your chapters’ service hours, which can be broken down by individual or by chapter, and shown across any date range you choose. You can check out this video if you’re interested in seeing what the app looks like in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt2BC1Kj7Wg.
Philanthropy is a vital component of the fraternity and sorority experience. By providing the right level of support and facilitation from your headquarters, a commitment to philanthropy can become a strong piece of your members’ shared values.