Fraternities and sororities at the University of Central Florida collectively donated to charity more than $1 million – the most in a single year – in the 2016-17 academic year.

Nearly 4,000 students who make up the 47 social Greek-lettered organizations on campus raised $1,065,391 from August 2016 to May 2017. Money raised went to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Feeding Children Everywhere, Military Heroes Campaign, Huntsman Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross and many more.

“Philanthropy comes naturally to the Greek organizations,” said Josh Bologna, a senior studying industrial engineering who was UCF’s Greek Council president in 2016-17. “If you wear letters, you’re held at a high standard and that’s created a culture of giving that continues to grow.”

The community in the previous year raised nearly $821,000, and Bologna credits the jump in giving to greater collaboration among the fraternities and sororities. They were strategic scheduling fundraising events so the chapters would not compete with each other.

“It’s hard for the rest of the community to support a cause with their time and money when two or more big events would happen right next to each other,” he said.

That’s why the Greek Council worked to increase communication and collaboration among the chapters. Instead of two organizations hosting competing events to benefit the same cause, they would join forces to host a larger event, combine their manpower to find more sponsors, and ultimately garner more attention and donations.

Fundraisers included partial-proceeds nights at local restaurants, lip-synch competitions between the chapters to raise awareness and money for breast cancer, all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts with profits going to St. Jude’s Hospital, and many more. Greek community members often let their creativity shine when planning fundraiser events, Bologna said.

Also in the 2016-17 academic year, chapter members collectively volunteered 86,795 hours to local and national organizations such as Relay for Life, Boys and Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Shepherd’s Hope, Clean the World and others.

“Our fraternity and sorority members certainly live out the values of the organizations they contribute to,” said Woody Joseph, director of UCF Fraternity and Sorority Life. “It’s exciting to see that they’re so passionate about contributing towards local and national causes, whether it’s through raising funds or getting their hands dirty with volunteer projects.”

Joseph anticipates the amount raised will continue to grow.

“I was surprised this year because $1 million has never been reached before, but at the same time, I know how our students are when they’re determined to achieve something,” he said. “I think they’ll make it their goal to reach $1 million again.”