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For the Love of Nonprofits

by Nathan Kriha
Donor Services Coordinator

One of the most consistent passions in my life has been a love for nonprofits—especially ones that focus on education and the development of impoverished communities. This love can be traced all the way back to my high school days when my mother (quite forcibly) suggested I teach a kindergarten religious education course with her.

After my introductory class, I thought that this decision would easily be one of the biggest regrets of my life: The children would scream, cry, launch their crayons into space, tear up their books, and cry a little more. While I was initially stunned by this preliminary lesson, I witnessed my mother corral these angsty students and gradually create a heartwarming and quite soothing environment. At this moment I realized the true influence that a teacher can have on their students, and I became captivated with the study of successful teaching methods.

This interest persisted into my coursework at the University of Notre Dame, where I majored in liberal studies with a minor in education. There, during my second summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work at Camp John Marc, a nonprofit in rural Texas. The next summer I worked at Reach Higher, another nonprofit, located in DC. Both experiences allowed me to interact with students and educators from around the world and discover the importance of community assistance. I fell in love with the missions of nonprofits, so I could not be happier that I ended up at the Elks National Foundation.

I am currently on the Donors Services team, where I assist with the processing of both online and mailed gifts. While different from my past nonprofit experiences, I absolutely love the work and every day has been filled with something new and exciting! In addition to donations, I help manage Foundation Fellowship, which is our annual giving recognition program; contribute to ENF publications; run several different online reports and updates; and conduct some database maintenance.

There are so many impressive initiatives that the ENF supports, but my favorite one has to be the Community Investments Program. After my two previous nonprofit experiences, I learned that a community understands its own needs more than anyone else. The ENF clearly recognizes this importance, and so CIP allows individual communities to allocate money toward what they find most significant. The funny thing is I learned about CIP during my sophomore year at university. I was a community service chair for my dorm and while looking online for volunteer opportunities, I stumbled across a post about South Bend, Ind., Lodge No. 235 and their different community projects. Never would I have guessed that I would be working for the same organization one day!

I have only been working at the ENF for a few months, so I am confident there will be much more for me to learn and do, but it is truly heartening to know that I contribute to an organization that offers so much assistance and love to communities and people in need.

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