Wednesday, October 5, 2016

From Teaching to the ENF

by Hannah Jones
Donor Services Assistant

Hi all! My name is Hannah Jones, and I am the new Donor Services Assistant at the Elks National Foundation. I joined the Foundation in mid-July, so I’ve been immersed in this world for over two months now, and wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce myself to Elkdom at large.

In case you’re wondering what a Donor Services Assistant actually does, I’ll allow you a quick glimpse into my modest yet surprisingly colorful cubicle to find out.

Usually a significant chunk of my day is spent talking to Elks from all over the country on the phone to answer different questions, especially questions related to donations and recognition. I help Lodge ENF Fundraising Chairs and Secretaries navigate our website, understand reports and standings, and explain how our donations are processed.

I also spend a lot of time reaching out to Lodge Chairs when we receive remittances that don’t balance, don’t have a list of donors, or any number of other issues that might arise. (If you’re an ENF Fundraising Chair and you don’t want me to harass you by e-mail about remittance issues, I’d be happy to direct you to some educational resources to make sure you don’t ever have to hear from me!) Today, for example, I’ve been processing an adjustment for a check that was sent in this past May without any donor information. After some communication with the Lodge Chair, I am fixing that donation so that all 850 donors get credit. It takes quite a bit of time to make adjustments like these, but it’s so important to the Foundation that this level of generosity is acknowledged.

Most days, I work on our bank’s website to download financial information for donation processing. Once a week, I send out acknowledgment letters, which I periodically edit to include the most up-to-date information on the Foundation. Once a month, I prepare recognition—the pins and certificates that show our gratitude for the continued support of our donors. The role of Donor Services Assistant is a grab-bag of responsibilities, but it’s teaching me a lot about the behind-the-scenes work at a non-profit.

This kind of exposure to non-profit work is extremely important to me, because up until this past summer, I had been working in a middle school in New Orleans as an English teacher. I’m fairly certain the two positions could not be more different. First of all, as the early fall weather rolls in and cools off the city of Chicago, I’m already beginning to brace myself for the cold, harsh winter that I know is in store after getting quite used to the swampy subtropics of southeastern Louisiana. Even more important, while I grew quite accustomed to spending my days attempting to get angst-driven pre-teens to read literature, I now get to converse with a much friendlier and significantly more mature clientele, who are motivated and well-aligned with the Foundation’s mission. Cajoling into action and breaking up fights are two skills that I no longer have to exercise on a daily basis! At least not yet.

The best and most unexpected part of this work so far has been discovering the immensely caring and familial world of the Elks. I’ll admit, before I started working at the Foundation, I didn’t know that much about the Elks. There was an Elks Lodge in my New Jersey hometown (Ridgewood, N.J., Lodge No. 1455), which I passed frequently, but not once did I pass the threshold and walk inside to uncover what the Elks are really about. Now I get to learn more and more about the great heart of Elkdom every day. Nothing has been more surprising than realizing the immense philanthropic power and the mighty force of change that Elks wield in communities all over the country.

I want to thank everyone that I’ve talked to so far for welcoming me with such open arms into the Elks Family. I hope I get the chance to get to know you and find more about the amazing things happening at your Lodge soon! I’m always just a phone call or email away.


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