Socially-Distanced, Hands-On Service: National Philanthropy Day 2021

This year, the third Monday in October is the eighteenth. The first Philanthropy Day, in 1999, was also on October eighteenth! Phi Mu has been celebrating this day of hands-on service for 23 years.

Although most service projects have to be socially distanced or virtual, the spirit of living out the values in our Creed remains the same: “To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand” and “To minister to the needy and unfortunate.”

The origins of National Philanthropy Day were detailed in “The History of Phi Mu: The First 150 Years,” by Annadell Lamb, Delta Alpha (Indiana University):

“In 1999, Phi Mu became the first Greek-letter organization to introduce a National Philanthropy Day dedicated to active, hands-on philanthropic service.

“This plan to inspire Phi Mus to live the Creed in unison nationwide was suggested by Cynthia Lowden, Gamma Epsilon (Duke University), and endorsed unanimously by National Council and the Phi Mu Foundation Board of Trustees in a resolution drawn up at a joint meeting in January 1999. It was announced at the 1999 Leadership Conferences.

“The third Monday in October was the date chosen to proclaim as National Philanthropy Day each year. In 1999, on October 18, all Phi Mu chapters – both collegiate and alumnae – were asked to participate in the first Philanthropy Day by undertaking a service project locally.”

Cynthia addressed why National Philanthropy Day is particularly relevant in 2021: “In spite of a worldwide pandemic, this year National Philanthropy Day is more important than ever. NPD was created to focus every Phi Mu chapter on a ‘hands on,’ local project – on the same day. It is tailor made for the saying ‘Together but apart’ that we have heard often during this time.”

“Uniting our entire sisterhood in a common purpose has made us successful for 169 years,” Cynthia continued. “And this year, my favorite line of our Creed, ‘To practice day by day love,’ could not be more fitting. Each of us – together but apart – can celebrate NPD with an act of love and kindness.”

As always, the official date of National Philanthropy Day is the third Monday in October; members are encouraged to schedule service projects a week beforehand through the following week – depending on the chapter schedule and selected volunteer opportunity.

The Fraternity’s National Philanthropy Committee compiled ideas for collegians and alumnae:

  • Collect items needed for a hospital, nursing home, food bank or homeless shelter
  • Deliver food/groceries to the elderly or at-risk populations
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Prepare food for essential workers
  • Become pen pals with someone at a nursing home, hospice center or hospital
  • Donate blood or plasma or volunteer at a blood drive
  • Volunteer at a school to help disinfect surface areas and rooms
  • Volunteer at a boy and girls club or a similar after school program for children
  • Walk door-to-door and check in on neighbors
  • Pick up litter
  • Create a garden or nature space in your community
  • Go through training and volunteer to staff a hotline to provide support to callers
  • Help others in registering to vote
  • Create a video of a DIY art project for patients at CMN Hospitals

The Fraternity always needs photos of members doing service – please take photos and send them to to be used on Phi Mu’s social media pages and in publications.