Zoom in on Fundraising
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many Elks Lodges to close their doors and inevitably postpone events, and it could have easily driven people apart. But the Elks are a strong and creative community, and they stepped up to the challenge of creating connections despite the social distance.

Redondo Beach, Calif., Lodge No. 1378 quickly adjusted its event plans and stepped into a place that was previously uncharted: the cyber space known as Zoom. In July, just four months after the pandemic took hold of the country, the Lodge held its first Zoom fundraiser.

“When I accepted the Chair appointment, I took some time to recall many of the events I had hosted, assisted, or attended in the past several years,” says Linda Williams, the ENF Fundraising Chair of Lodge 1378. “As the shutdowns for the pandemic extended on, the idea for our fundraiser expanded to become virtual.”

In the past, the Redondo Beach Lodge’s fundraisers revolved around a central theme, included a meal and door prizes, and the tickets had a suggested donation amount. Some of the money collected during the event went into paying for the food and the theme, decreasing the event’s total donation to the Foundation.

“Fundraising for the Lodge this year has been drastically altered due to the ongoing inability to open up our Lodge for events,” says Williams. “In the past, we had done drive-thru BBQ’s and other meals for members to preorder and pick up, requests of donations, and a candy sale for the holidays.”

To keep their members safe and follow COVID safety guidelines, a fundraiser like that was not possible, so the Lodge got creative. With a small subcommittee of four other members, Williams and her team set up a Facebook event to send invitations, communicate with members, and request donations for virtual door prizes.

“It created a change in our communication needs due to the lack of ability to post event flyers in the Lodge,” says Williams. “We sent out weekly updates on the Facebook event page in addition to articles in our newsletter, weekly email blasts, and announcements in the Lodge’s weekly Zoom meetings.”

The Redondo Beach Elks also faced difficulty collecting donations for virtual tickets and gathering door prizes, since restricted mail delivery to the Lodge made it impossible to receive the donations by mail, so Williams and her sub-committee set up a Venmo account for ticket donations, which greatly increased turn out.

Members of the Lodge stepped up to donate door prizes, as the local businesses that usually donated them were closed. After the prizes were collected, the committee took pictures of the door prizes, posted them on the Facebook event page, and showed them during the Zoom event.

“We had the wonderful assistance of the Lodge Secretary and office staff to generate tickets to put in the barrel for the door prize drawings,” says Williams. The staff generated a raffle ticket for each ticket purchased, so they didn’t need members to mail tickets in or drop them off, and then they were able to draw them during the Zoom event to award the door prizes.

Everyone who donated got an exclusive link to join the Zoom meeting, and the Lodge sold a total of 102 virtual seats for the event, raising more than $1,000 for the ENF.

“The feedback from many members of the Lodge was very positive,” says Williams. “They liked the fact that a way was found to do an event and that there was no cost to the Lodge to hold the event. They also really liked that it was a great amount of donations to go to the ENF!”

Though things were a little different in the past year due to the pandemic, the Redondo Beach Elks found ways to bolster their community despite the distance, and they are looking forward to continuing those efforts into the new year.

“The House Committee is continuing to look at ideas presented by the PER Association and Lodge members to raise funds during this extremely difficult time so that we can continue to do things for our community,” says Williams.

A 501(c)(3) public charity, the Elks National Foundation helps Elks build stronger communities through programs that support youth, serve veterans and meet needs in areas where Elks live and work. For more information on the ENF, visit elks.org/enf.

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