Giving and getting: Philanthropic activity among black greek-letter organizations

Marybeth Gasman, Patricia Louison, Mark Barnes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


African American giving is rooted in efforts to overcome oppression. The history of black philanthropy shows that those who gave did so to help others in the community. In response to pleas by influential community members, African Americans gave to causes that made a difference in their immediate environments. Black philanthropy has been a response to discrimination-in the past, due to slavery and segregation, and today, due to educational and workplace inequality. Among the most prominent philanthropic organizations for African Americans are sororities and fraternities-organizations that have, since their establishment, been dedicated to philanthropic service, specifically self-help and educational advancement. This chapter illustrates the philanthropic efforts of black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) to support and further the lives of African Americans. These organizations, in formal and informal ways, have worked to serve and shape their community. By studying them, we can learn much about civic leadership and contributions to public life among African Americans. Too often, the work of these historical organizations is overlooked by scholars. Even though their insular nature is often cited as an explanation, they may have been passed over because they are viewed as social, not philanthropic, organizations. This chapter examines the service orientation woven deeply into the fabric of BGLOs. First, we provide an overview of African American giving. Then we explore the philanthropic actions taking place within black sororities and fraternities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBlack Greek-letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century
PublisherThe University Press of Kentucky
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780813124919
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

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