Mobilizing for philanthropy despite distance

By Leah Boyd, The Duke Chronicle

Despite the coronavirus pandemic canceling in-person philanthropy events for Duke’s Greek organizations, their members still found creative ways to raise money for local and national causes.

The Chronicle spoke to representatives of some of Duke’s fraternities and sororities to see how their philanthropy efforts have continued, even as students dispersed for the semester.

Alpha Tau Omega: Sustain-a-Bull

The brothers of Alpha Tau Omega partnered with Sustain-a-Bull, a Durham-based nonprofit that provides resources and support for local businesses.

“Obviously, a lot of small businesses are going through hard times right now,” said sophomore Abhinav Ratnagiri, philanthropy co-chair for ATO’s Duke chapter. “We thought it’d be a great way to help the city of Durham.”

Sustain-a-Bull offered a free Shop Durham card to anyone who donated more than $10. The card gets shoppers discounts, deals and free items at more than 230 local Durham businesses, such as a free cup of coffee at the Durham Co-Op Market, Ratnagiri said. 

They posted on their Instagram stories asking followers if they could Venmo request them for donations. Ratnagiri added that the fraternity brothers also asked friends and family for donations, and the chapter sent an email to the alumni listserv. The brothers raised $2,200 in total for the nonprofit.

Pi Kappa Alpha: Shave and Buzz

In March, the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha held their fifth annual Shave and Buzz, an event that honors fraternity brothers Bobby Menges and Mark Schreiber, online. Menges died from cancer in September 2017, and Schreiber, Trinity ‘19, is in remission from central nervous system germinoma.

Although participants shaved their heads over Instagram Live instead of in the Bryan Center Landing, the brothers raised $72,606, exceeding their original goal of $60,000.

Sigma Chi: Huntsman Cancer Foundation

Across the nation, brothers of Sigma Chi participated in a 5k to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, one of their large philanthropy initiatives.

To raise money before the event, active members posted on their Instagram stories asking followers how much they could Venmo request them for donations. 

The chapter raised $354 for the foundation, according to sophomore Luke Schwartz, philanthropy chair for Sigma Chi at Duke.