Pennsylvania State University, Louisiana State University, Florida State University and unfortunately many more have experienced horrific deaths and misconduct of members of the Greek life communities. With the heightened publicity of tragic deaths and misconducts on college campuses, administrators have moved to suspend Greek life activities on certain campuses, legally distance themselves from organizations and question the need for Greek life organizations entirely. Although the reports of the recent deaths and misconduct have focused on white fraternity organizations, Black Greek-Lettered Organizations (BLGOs) are impacted by the events.
In the spirit of the past and upcoming National Panhellenic Council (NPHC) members founder’s day celebrations, where all nine were founded on college campuses. I will share some of my thoughts for institutions of higher education, alumni associations and foundations about the importance of having a plan when it comes to the future of fundraising and the urgency of intentionality with the BGLOs.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. December 4, 1906 Cornell University
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. January 15, 1908 Howard University
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. January 5, 1911 Indiana University
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. November 17, 1911 Howard University
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. January 13, 1913 Howard University
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. January 9, 1914 Howard University
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. January 16, 1920 Howard University
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. November 12, 1922 Butler University
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. September 19, 1963 Morgan State University
Future of Fundraising
As college graduates become more diverse, the cultivation of alumni who have strong affinity with their BGLO will continue to grow in importance. Having a comprehensive understanding of the experiences, relationships, and causes that are important can guide alumni associations and foundations on ways forward. The history and goals of BGLOs have a running theme of education and giving back. This community approach can assist colleges and universities, but only if the institutions are intentional about cultivating and connecting with BGLOs and their members.
Here are three ways to start building intentionality with your Black Greek-Lettered Organizations on your campus:
1. Do you have any BGLOs on your campus? If so, which ones?
2. How long have each of your BGLOs provided service on your campus?
3. Who are the charter members of each BGLO and is that distinguished status documented on their alumni profile?
1. Does your institution know the focus(es) of each BGLO’s national and regional initiatives?
2. Does your institution document membership of BGLOs on the alumni/donor database and know how many members overall became members through the chapters who are affiliated with your institution?
3. Do your alumni relations or the development staff attend or participate in any activities that are organized by BGLOs?
1. Are any of your student leaders, advisory board, or board of directors, members of a BGLO? (Don’t assume if they are not Black they are not a part of these organizations)
2. If your campus ever experienced any unrest or protest for equity, civil rights, or advocacy for communities of color do you know if any BGLO’s and/or their members were actively engaged?
3. Is your alumni relations or development staff aware of the leaders who serve in an executive capacity of a national BGLO and what institution(s) they have graduated from?
The banning of student Greek life organizations on college campuses is real and BGLOs are being impacted. As we reflect and celebrate the various founder’s days, I say to institutions of higher education, alumni associations and foundations, that you need to make concerted efforts to connect and build relationships with your BGLOs and your alumni. As the trend to create distance between student Greek organizations and universities continue, you must think of how this distancing can impact your future philanthropy and fundraising strategies. You have to remember that these community focused organizations are rooted in education and giving back. Understand that a world without collegiate Black Greek-Lettered Organizations have a greater impact than your institution may even know. It was young college student founders who created and developed on a college campus and made a lifetime commitment to changing the world.