By Katie Shipp, Director of Annual Giving and Advancement Communications
On August 4, the Phi Delta Theta Foundation held its second annual giving day. The day raised just over $110,000 from over 570 donors. This is the largest single-day fundraising effort of this kind for the Foundation.
Throughout the day live Facebook interviews featuring staff, volunteers, and students helped to spread awareness of what it means to be a member of Phi Delta Theta and how the organization is adapting in the age of COVID-19. While Phi Delta Theta was ahead of the curve in available online education modules, the pandemic called for many new courses to navigate recruitment and chapter operations this fall. The Fraternity was able to fast-track several of the initiatives in the Phi Delt 2030 strategic plan to ensure the fraternal experience could still be experienced, even from six feet apart. Speeding up these initiatives, while also assisting chapters with dues, implementing new scholarships for students, helping seniors find jobs, and building awareness of alumni with small businesses or restaurants all created a need for additional dollars to ensure a consistently high level of support. The alumni and friends who took the time to share and make contributions on Giving Day provided the budgetary relief to ensure that a high level of support continues.
Our Foundation staff is often asked why the Fraternity needs a Foundation. This is an important question to understand. Of course, the Foundation has its own mission, which states that the Foundation exists to strengthen men for life by building on the tradition of our core values: Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude.
When I think of our daily mission, I recall something the Fraternity’s new Executive Vice President and CEO Sean Wagner said, “I believe that someone’s born situation should not determine their lot in life. Becoming a Phi Delt exposes people to leadership experiences, relationships, and a values-centered life that improves every member’s personal trajectory. Our role at GHQ is to enable and sponsor that transformational experience. In these uncertain times where leaders are needed more than ever, and the world is looking to provide greater opportunities for all, our society has the chance to be more impactful than ever.”
As a member of the General Headquarters staff on the Foundation side, I hope to accomplish two things during my time at Phi Delt. The first is to educate young men. Whether it is on leadership, respect, life-long learning, relationship-building, or philanthropy, I see our GHQ staff as a group of educators who enhance the lives of our 180,000 students and alumni. The second is to make Phi Delta Theta an experience available to all.
If you look at the Phi Delt experience as a pie, chapter dues account for nearly 60–65 percent of that pie each year. The Foundation covers the remaining cost and works consistently with alumni and benefactors to increase our piece of the pie. All of this to say, my answer to the question, “Why does a fraternity need a foundation?” is this: the Fraternity needs a Foundation to ensure that the Phi Delta Theta experience is one that can be accessible to everyone.
Gifts on Giving Day ranged from $5–$10,000. Every one of those donors advances the Fraternity’s and Foundation’s mission. It is my hope that on Giving Day you heard the message that the dollar amount of your gift is not nearly as important as the fact that you chose to give back. To each person who chose to place the Phi Delta Theta Foundation in their charitable giving priorities: thank you for ensuring that each young man who wants to become a stronger leader has access to join Phi Delta Theta.
P.S. If you missed giving day and still want to support the experience you can always donate at phideltatheta.org/donate or call the Foundation to find out more.