Philanthropic events are becoming staples on college campuses everywhere. There is a growing movement of integrating charitable fundraising events all over the United States’ colleges and universities. Some of the largest contributors to the planning,
organization, and success of these events are members of Greek Life on these campuses. Nearly every fraternity and sorority across the country organize at least one philanthropy event each year for their oocal causes. At the University of Maryland, Greek Life has been doing the same for a numseverals.
Each organization must spend time every semester planning and running a philanthropy event to remain recognized by the university and the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life (DFSL). Still, even with these charitable events, it is tough for Greek Life as a whole to escape its unhealthy reputation.
Anytime anyone hears “fraternity” they immediately begin to picture an animal house, run by drunk alcoholics in togas running around wrecking wreakingound campus. “In the media, it’s portrayed as a lot of jerks and all they care about is partying” (McGinnis).
One of the best ways for Greek Life to prove itself as a well-rounded group of the community is by giving back to its community, and this can be accomplished through an even bigger increase in philanthropic events.
When the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at Pennsylvania State University began realizing that their integrity was being threatened by irresponsible fraternities and a mistaken reputation, they decided that the way to improve their image was through a philanthropic event. In 1973, THON, a two-day dance marathon, was proposed and executed.
That year they only raised $2,000, but more importantly, the event continued to become a staple event each year at Penn State. Over 40 years, it has raised over $100 million for pediatric cancer. THON is currently the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, and surprisingly it was and continues to be run by the Greek Life at Penn State (thon.org).
THON managed to spark a large number of spin-off dance marathons, one of them being Terp Thon, a 12-hour the marath12-hours University of Maryland, held every March. Since it was founded just four years ago, Terp Thon has raised over $750,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. This event is UMD’s largest philanthropy each spring, but the fall semester at Maryland doesn’t have a staple philanthropy event anywhere near the magnitude of Terp Thon (terpthon.org). This is something that Greek Life at UMD can change. Between the 4,000 students involved in Greek Life, and organizations such as DFSL, IFC, and the Panhellenic Association (PHA), there is a large enough community that would be able to organize and execute an event of this magnitude (McGinnis). Fraternities and sororities already manage to fundraise an enormous amount of money individually.
From Breastfest to Derby Days to NEDA Walk, there are already multiple events that raise more than $10,000 annually (greek.umd.edu). If the entire community came together to plan staple philanthropy that the entire university could look up to, it would be an unbelievable achievement for both the University of Maryland as well as for Greek Life.
My final project will be a set of technical specifications on how to organize and execute a large-scale philanthropy event for the University of Maryland. The project will first describe the need for this event, which is due to the growing number of philanthropies on college campuses all over the country and the amount of respect that students involved in these events are earning. On top of this, it will address the lack of a staple philanthropy event in the fall at UMD. I will describe why I believe the Greek Community at UMD would be the best group of undergraduates to begin a project like this. “If one thing is clear, it is that there is no lack of motivation on the fraternities’ and sororities’ parts to involve the campus and community with something bigger than themselves” (Georgiades). Greek Life at UMD in particular has struggled in recent years to gain the respect of university administrators and unaffiliated undergraduate students. An event like this would be an amazing way to contribute to both the community and campus, and it has been proven in the past at Penn State that it is not only feasible but potentially revolutionary for our campus.
The type of event I would be outlining would be a large-scale concert to be held during September. My specifications will go into all of the requirements to be able to organize and fund an event like this. The first step would be to involve DFSL, as they are essentially the bridge between the university and the Greek Community. From there, IFC and PHA would need to gain the support of every one of their chapters. By reaching out to the presidents of each chapter, asking them to form a committee of two to four people from their chapter, the building blocks for the concert philanthropy would begin to take shape. At this point, the report will focus on the actual planning and coordination of the event.
I plan on outlining exactly how to break up the larger committee into different positions, such as fundraising, marketing, and logistics. An elected executive director should oversee the entire philanthropy. The report will detail all of the requirements of executforg an event of this magnitude. Some of the sections of the report will entail selecting a venue, acquiring permission from the university, organizing tickets and donations, appointing security, renting out speaker and stage equipment, obtaining city permits, purchasing food and beverages, and hiring a well-known artist to perform. The dedication and time commitment for an event like this is extremely involved, and I will include a section in the report about meeting deadlines and delegating work to the entire Greek Community through the philanthropy committee. The final specifications will consist of a complete guide as to how to plan an event like this successfully.
My primary audience for this report will be Matt Supple, the Director of DFSL. Brian Corcoran, the President of IFC, and Molly Alsobrook, the President of PHA. They are the top three people who are in charge of the organizationthatho would be able to put this event together. The mission of DSFL is to “collaborate with a variety of stakeholders (students, administrators, alumni, parents, nationals, etc.)too to foster, promote and support the development of a community made up of values-based organizations” (DFSL). Similarly, the goals of IFC and PHA focus on the development of the community and the values of their members. I believe that this philanthropy event emphasizes all of these purposes. This concert would not just be for Greek Life, but it would be for the entire University of Maryland community. The relationships that this would foster throughout the entire campus, as well as the values that this philanthropy would reflect, are extremely important to the leaders of these three organizations.
The secondary audience will be the rest of the members of DFSL, IFC, and PHA, along with the presidents of each chapter. An enormous philanthropy concert requires an enormous amount of motivation, time, and organization. Three people cannot coordinate one event, but three organizations and the presidents of 38 other organizations can. The secondary audience is the one who will work together to organize the concert after the primary audience gets the ball rolling. It will take the combined efforts of every chapter to be successful, and therefore the leaders of these chapters are the ones who will communicate this to their members and select a committee of people to work on the event.
The tertiary audience will be the remaining members of Greek Life. Most members will not be involved at all in planning or executing this event, but every single member will be at the concert on the day of the event, representing the Greek Community and the efforts it took to accomplish. They should have the opportunity to see the proposal for the philanthropy in case any of them want to get involved. This philanthropy will be representative of the values of the Greek Community, and it will benefit the Greek Community and its reputation within the university as a whole. Everyone in Greek Life will be positively affected by the success of this philanthropic concert, which is why I am reaching out to every member with my project.
For my project, I will be conducting two different interviews. One of the interviewees will be a member of DFSL. I will ask them a series of questions such as:
I will also interview a current chapter president to gauge interest from the student side of the idea. I will ask him questions such as:
I also plan on surveying a large number of students in each Greek Life organization. The key to the success of this concert would be the full participation and dedication of all of Greek Life, and a survey would be excellent to gain feedback on what the rest of the community thinks of the idea.
For my secondary research, there is a vast amount of online articles and documents on philanthropies on college campuses, especially related to Greek Life. I have already found Campus Connect and the International Coalition of College Philanthropies, both collegiate philanthropy organizations dedicated to building the communities that hold colleges around the nation. On top of this, there are many more focused articles about the success of THON at Penn State, as well as the philanthropies at the University of Maryland.
My final project will consist of technical specification requirements for organizing and executing a philanthropic concert open to the entire University of Maryland. The audience for my assignment will be the Greek Community because there is strong evidence across the nation that Greek organizations can work together to create such an event. It has been accomplished at other universities, and it would work well in Maryland as long as the dedication of the organizations coordinating it was strong. The event would do wonders for relations between the Greek Community and the rest of Maryland, as well as demonstrate the values that each Greek organization, IFC, PHA, and DFSL uphold.