The Difference Between Service and Philanthropy

In sorority world, we seem to use service and philanthropy interchangeably. We have philanthropies for our national organizations, but our activities around those are often actually service projects. How can you tell the difference?

Diff Service Phil.png

Making a Distinction

Here's the key to telling them apart: 

Service = time and effort donated

Philanthropy = donation of money or resources

So, if you're raising money to donate, that's a straight up philanthropy. If you're coordinating a donation drive, that's a philanthropy too, since you're donating resources. 

Service, on the other hand, is when you're donating time and effort. It's your sweat equity. This can be volunteering at the animal shelter, playing bingo at a nursing home, or picking up litter on campus. These projects are often counted in terms of hours when reporting to your national organization or campus. 

When It's Both

For some events, your work could be considered both philanthropy and service. If your chapter participates in Relay for Life, for example, your team's fundraising (donations) is philanthropy (and counted in dollar amount). If your chapter also volunteers helping with the set up or tear down of the event, then that's service (and counted in hours).

It can be a little complicated, but refer back to the key distinction above if you get confused. Your sorority may define these categories a little differently, so make sure to always double check you're reporting activities accurately. 

Bottom Line 

Both service projects and philanthropies are awesome ways to show your members, potential new members, alumnae, parents, and community what you is important to your chapter. Helping others is always a good look and can help your members feel more fulfilled in their membership experience. We can make a positive impact with each service project or philanthropy when we work together. 

What are your favorite service or philanthropy projects from your chapter? What new projects are you considering?