For most of us, joining our fraternity or sorority while attending Rensselaer remains one of the most significant decisions we could have made, even at such a young age, and for so many who have kept in touch with brothers or sisters throughout our lives, we are grateful for having made that decision. It’s trite but true – we were given a family away from home and one that would last throughout our lives if we chose.
I have heard people say that in this day and age, with social media connections at your fingertips, there is no longer a need for what fraternities and sororities offer. That argument always seems to be made by someone who never experienced the value of what we had been given by those who came before us nor understands the desire to see that this gift continues for future generations of young people coming to Rensselaer. The academic and emotional support that your brothers or sisters provided at a difficult school, the incredible networking opportunities within your organization, the unique on-the-job leadership training that is built into a Greek organization – are all priceless. Those who have remained involved will clearly understand this: the friendships that are at the core of fraternities and sororities grow deeper over time until one day, as with me, you are in your 70s and your brothers continue to mean more and more to you. The bonds don’t dissipate over time; to the contrary, they become stronger and one day you realize that, yes, this will last my entire life. That’s a gift.
And that’s precisely what we want to pass along to the next ones in line and those after them. The reality of the current situation, though, cannot be ignored. The past 18 months have been tough for Greek communities everywhere, but especially at RPI. As our chapter houses were kept closed as part of the campus effort to deal with COVID-19, our organizations faced a financial crisis with a lack of rental income. About a year ago, Board members of the Alumni Fraternity and Sorority Council (formerly named the Alumni Inter-Greek Council) approached members of the Administration about developing an opportunity to help alleviate that financial crisis of keeping their houses shuttered for the school year. They were receptive and wanted to help us get something off the ground, so we worked with Student Life and Institute Advancement. The resulting campaign was announced last spring and, after due diligence, was implemented.
As a key part of the campaign, the Chapter Support Fund: Pandemic Relief program allows each fraternity and sorority to establish its own directed fund through RPI so that its own alumni/ae members can contribute to the effort. There are three areas in which the collected funds can be applied to help make up the lost ground: mortgage payments, utility expenses, needed renovations and repairs. Here are the important parameters:
Any chapter in good standing can choose to opt-in to this program.
All donations through RPI to these directed Chapter Support Funds are 100% tax deductible.
Donations to these Chapter Support Funds qualify perfectly for corporate charitable matches, so a contribution’s impact can be multiplied to the extent that the corporation allows. So, even young alums can make contributions that may be matched dollar for dollar or doubled or tripled, with the great benefit going to their own organizations.
Every penny of your donation counts toward your lifetime giving total to RPI.
As it does with every directed fund (sports teams, academic schools, etc.), Rensselaer passes along 90% of each donation to the intended fund while retaining the balance for administrative purposes. The exception is with any scholarship fund, where 100% goes toward that purpose.
This is a perfect way for alumni who may have established a Charitable Fund designation within their financial portfolio to distribute those assets. And for those who are in their 70s or older and must by law take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your retirement plan account, please consider the benefit of donating a portion of your RMD to this effort, as that amount will not be calculated as taxable income by the IRS. It’s worth asking your broker or accountant to run some numbers so that you are fully informed.
Solicitation efforts for these funds will continue through the end of the calendar year.
So far, the following fraternities have opted to participate in this program: Alpha Chi Rho, Delta Phi, Phi Mu Delta, Pi Lambda Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tau Epsilon Phi, and Zeta Psi. One got the word out extremely effectively prior to the last RPI Giving Day (June 28, which was “2Rπ Day”) and saw more than 90 brothers participate in the effort, raising about $30,000 for their fraternity in a single day! Another simply wanted to test the program by making a few donations, followed by a qualifying invoice, and they received the requested funds within two weeks, so they were satisfied that this all worked as promised. A third has so far generated just under $70,000 with only twelve alumni participating to date (motivations included a desire to support the fraternity but also receive credit for giving to their alma mater, and one alumnus made a five-figure donation from his financial portfolio’s Charitable Fund, having waited for an opportunity just like this. Perfect timing.) In all three examples, the organizations have received the disbursements they have requested, with more disbursements to come as more donations come in. I’m pleased to share that this program works as advertised!
If your chapter is listed in the previous paragraph and you wish to contribute to its continued success, this is a wonderful way to do it (tax deductible, charitable matches, qualifies as charitable fund disbursement). Just go to giving.rpi.edu/fraternities-and-sororities and make your donation. That page also provides the necessary information should you wish to support by check or generate a corporate charitable match. Your fraternity or sorority will benefit from your generosity. Thank you from all of us who care about supporting Greek life.
If your chapter is not among those that have already signed up and you would like to support them through this tax deductible means that also allows for corporate charitable matches, please contact your chapter leadership to let them know you are willing to help should they opt in. If they are still not prepared to participate, there is another way to support the RPI Greek community – through the Fraternity and Sorority Scholarship Fund (for individual students who need financial assistance) or the Fraternity and Sorority Commons Fund (for a variety of endeavors, such as sponsoring leadership retreats for emerging chapter officers). Just visit the same page for more details: giving.rpi.edu/fraternities-and-sororities.
I am writing because I highly endorse this program. It’s been a rough time at RPI for those who value what our organizations provide, and the benefit from these opportunities can make a great difference regardless of which area you choose to support.
If you would like to discuss any of this, please contact Institute Advancement (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me at email@example.com. Whether or not a deductible gift could benefit you as the end of the year approaches, please know that your financial support directed toward your organization or Greek life in general will be deeply appreciated. Please consider it. Thanks very much.
Roger Mike ’70
Delta Phi Fraternity Board Member/Chapter Advisor Emeritus
“The friendships that are at the core of fraternities and sororities grow deeper over time until one day, as with me, you are in your 70s and your brothers continue to mean more and more to you. The bonds don’t dissipate over time; to the contrary, they become stronger and one day you realize that, yes, this will last my entire life. That’s a gift.”
ROGER MIKE ’70
Delta Phi Fraternity Board Member/Chapter Advisor Emeritus