Thursday, March 24, 2016

What's the Weather got to do with it?

by Christine Robinson
Communications Associate 


          I started working at the Elks National Foundation in the midst of our busiest time of year, March. I remember that day specifically because it was freezing cold and Chicago was coming off a winter with record-breaking low temperatures.

           
In the Rotunda of the
Elks Veterans Memorial
My first role at the Foundation was in the Donor Services department. I started 21 days before the 2013-14 fiscal year donation deadline. Though I was new and only learning a small portion of what my entire role would entail, I could still sense the busyness in the air! The Donor Services department is like a well-oiled machine that works behind the scenes to make sure every single ENF supporter is credited for their donation. They work hard to ensure that supporters like you receive acknowledgment and recognition for your generosity. They update the per-capita, reports, etc., weekly to make sure that ENF Fundraising Chairs and ENF donors have the most up to date totals available to them on the Reports and Standings page. Matching Gift, Recurring Gift, Tribute Gift, MVS Named Scholarship Program, those are just a few of
the ways you can support the ENF, not to mention, a gift given in any format can be designated to the program you feel most passionately about. For example, I designate my recurring donation to the Community Investments Program—watch Donations at Work and learn what it means to designate a gift to a specific fund.

            Last March, during the close of the 2014-15 fiscal year, I had an entirely different understanding of just what it means to work here, and specifically what I imagined it was going to be like in the Donor Services department during another record-setting year end. I worked closely with the Communications department as they updated the acknowledgment letters for first-time donors—the letters are a testament to the Elks family and contain images of Elks and Elks scholars from across the country! As I was making my way through the close of another fiscal year, tracking down recognition pins that were accidentally delivered to the other side of Chicago, answering questions, and then…one day, in the middle of March, an opportunity to learn a different role became available.

            Though I thoroughly enjoyed my role in the Donor Services department, my true passion is communication. In fact one of my favorite parts of processing donations was speaking with Elks from across the country. While addressing questions from donors and ENF Fundraising Chairs, another topic of discussion was the weather. It’s no secret that I find the weather fascinating. I could talk to anyone about the weather and it just so happens, that I had the opportunity to speak with Elks across the country about the weather in Chicago and the locations they were calling from. I’m still trying to convince the CIP to start a grant program for weather education—they have yet to succumb to the [barometric] pressure. 

       After almost a year in Communications, I’m experiencing the busy season with an entirely different perspective. Combining my prior experience in Donor Services with my role in the Communications department—I’m able to share stories that you help us write with fellow Elks who are working to build stronger communities across the nation, just like you are doing in your own communities. I’m so thankful for my time in Donor Services because it allowed me to understand just how hard ENF Fundraising Chairs work to make sure that every donation they receive is properly recorded, making it easier for the Donor Services team to get the donations into our records with ease and efficiency.

           
Hoop Shoot Trading
Cards in Progress

 


Right now, the ENF Team is working on two big events, the 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals are just around the corner and the MVS Leadership Weekend will be here before we know it. By the time we blink, summer will be in full swing and we’ll be in Houston, talking to Elkceptional people like you, sharing stories from the National Finals and Leadership Weekend.     
            The conditions are right during this busy season—the forecasters are predicting exciting new stories! With the direction of ENF Director Jim O’Kelley, these stories will be turned into films just as powerful as the Foundation Films produced in the past year. In the meantime, I want to leave you with a link to Lights, Camera, Passion! the 2014-15 Annual Report and remind you that just watching isn’t enough. Be sure to share with your friends, family and fellow Elks and help us tell the story.

            In addition to the above films, we have two films about the inaugural year of the Elks Scholar Service Trips watch Learn.Serve.Connect and The Oakland Scholar Service Trip. Another must-see film is One Last Stand. Watch it to meet seven veterans who were there recently but have now exited homelessness with help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and community partners like the Elks.

            Even though the weather changes, these films will always be in-season! Comment below and tell us which Foundation Film is your favorite!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Little Bit Goes a Long Way

by Marcee Northey
Donor Services Manager

The Elks National Foundation Donor Services team processes all of the donations generous Elks send in every day. We scan the checks, look up Lodge numbers and ENF Donor IDs, and enter all of the information into our system, crediting members and Lodges. I personally process Fidelity Club donations, which is my favorite way to support the ENF.

The Fidelity Club is our automatic monthly giving program, and it makes supporting the Foundation super easy. It also helps keep our costs low because less staff time is spent processing the donations. Members set up an automatic credit card charge or direct debit from their checking account. Others can join by participating in their company’s payroll-deduction program. That’s how I participate, and I’m a Century member in the Club. You can find out more about the Fidelity Club and special recognition on our website. It has a really great pin!


The minimum donation amount is only $5 per month, which also makes it really easy. I just give up a McDonald’s value meal each paycheck. The coffee drinkers in the office sacrifice one of their daily fancy Starbucks lattes. Having an automatic donation also allows us to increase our annual giving easily. Writing a $100 check might not be possible for everyone, but a small automatic charge or deduction is not as noticeable come payday. Many ENF staff have reached the Honorary Founder cumulative level of giving just through the payroll-deduction program at the office.
 
So, join the Fidelity Club. It makes supporting the ENF really simple, and a little bit goes a long way through a monthly donation. You can even designate your gift to your favorite ENF program!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Always Serve With a Smile

by Jessica Phan
2015 Most Valuable Student Scholar


One of the many things I love about families is that they are always there to support one another. When I received my Most Valuable Student scholarship sponsored by the Santa Ana, Calif., Lodge No. 794, I was able to experience the camaraderie and generosity of the Elks first-hand. From their welcoming hugs to our humorous conversations at the dinner table, the Elks showed me that they wanted to provide much more than financial support. Though it was only our first time meeting, the Elks demonstrated that they were truly invested in my life. Being at the Lodge made me feel like I was part of something bigger, but I had no idea at the time how involved the Elks would become in my life.

A Few Members of the Elks Family
Serving on the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip in Oakland, Calif., alongside 18 other Elks scholars made me realize that my Elks family was not limited to my local Lodge. The lasting relationships we built in one week are stronger than I ever could have imagined possible. Seeing updates from Elks scholars through social media fills me with nostalgia as I recall our late-night conversations, silly inside-jokes, and laughter-filled car rides to and from service sites. I am especially glad that we still stay in touch and am always excited to hear about the amazing things my fellow Elks scholars are doing in their communities.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that these connections would extend to members of the Richmond and Alameda Elks Lodges as well. Just as the Elks at my local Lodge had done, they graciously welcomed all 19 scholars into their Lodge and were interested in learning about each of us. Though I may never meet some of those Elks again, I will always cherish the time we spent learning about each other over a delicious home-cooked dinner–just as families do.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to experience just how far-reaching my Elks family is. During my volunteer shift at a local hospital, I met a patient who seemed anxious for a quick recovery. To take his mind off of being in the hospital, I made conversation about the people he looked forward to seeing once he could leave. Immediately, his face lit up as he excitedly expressed that he would be going to the local Elks Lodge. When I explained that I was an Elks scholar, we bonded over this common relation.

Soon after, his two friends from the Elks Lodge arrived. By this time, the gentleman’s demeanor had completely changed and he excitedly reported that I was an Elks scholar. After chatting about the recent events at their Lodge and about some things that I have been doing at school, I shared some pictures from the service trip. They wanted to learn all about us, so I told them a little bit about each scholar as we went through the photos (oh, the memories!!). There were definitely lots of heartfelt emotions as one Elk expressed through tears how proud she was of all of us.

As I left, the patient left me with something I won’t forget:

“You never know whom you’re going to meet or whom you’re going to impact, so always serve with a smile and you’ll be remembered just for that.”

After all the Elks have done for me, I was glad to have the opportunity to play a small role in brightening their day.

Such experiences have reaffirmed my initial impressions that the Elks are a wonderful organization that truly cares for its members, scholars, and community. This month, I look forward to returning to the Santa Ana Lodge to present at this year’s scholarship awards ceremony, where I will have the opportunity to reconnect with Elks and meet the newest class of Elks scholars. In everything I do, I know that I will always have their support. After all, family is forever–and I’m so grateful to be part of the Elks family.

Jessica Phan
2015 MVS Scholar

Jessica Phan is a 2015 Most Valuable Student scholar from Irvine, California. She currently attends Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., where she plans to pursue a major in Neuroscience and minor in Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing the piano, and volunteering in her community. To read more about Jessica, read her meet the class feature here