Lodge Grants: Adapting in Response to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re now experiencing a new normal together. In a few short weeks, everything has changed. And, the Community Investments Program must change this year, too. The new CIP grant year set to open on April 1, will likely be delayed to June 1, for all grant components except the Gratitude Grant.

With an increasing number of states under shelter-in-place mandates, and many others following the CDC and WHO guidelines—and with the health and wellbeing of Elks communities paramount—we must press pause and let the dust settle before we jump back in to project planning on any scale. With the ability to donate funds to a charitable organization, the Gratitude Grant offers eligible Lodges the perfect opportunity to make a difference when and where it’s needed most.

Normally, if a Lodge proposed to donate its Gratitude Grant to another organization, we’d ask to consider a more active use of the funds. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re adapting that approach this year. If a Lodge proposes to use a Gratitude Grant for an active project to take place in the next few months, we’re going to have a lot of questions about feasibility. Instead, we’ll encourage Lodges to think about donating to food pantries or other organizations in the community that are better equipped to directly serve the populations in need as we work our way through this pandemic.

Here are a few causes that could benefit from a Gratitude Grant donation. Your Lodge may identify others. You know your community best.

Feed the Community: Food Banks

As people find themselves unemployed or underemployed, local food banks and food pantries will feel the strain and will have an increased need for donations and supplies. The need will be great and the opportunity to positively and immediately impact the Lodge community is greater. Visit Feeding America to find your local food bank or food pantry.

The Frontline: Healthcare Workers

We all need to do our part to #FlattenTheCurve so that hospitals and healthcare workers can continue to do theirs. Hospitals—including V.A. hospitals, medical centers and nursing homes—may find themselves in short supply of life-saving equipment. Consider donating directly to hospitals in your area that may be working tirelessly to combat this pandemic. If your Lodge focuses on veterans, consider donating directly to a VA hospital that caters to this population in need during this time.

The American Red Cross has also published an excellent resource on medical preparedness for individuals and their communities.

People Experiencing Homelessness

Support homeless shelters and assistance programs. For those who don't have anywhere safe to go, this time is even more difficult. Consider donations to programs that will help vulnerable veterans during this time.

Delaying the launch of the other Lodge grants until at least June 1 will allow us to assess the needs of our communities and figure out the best ways for Elks to help. This may include loosening or reconfiguring grant guidelines prior to the June 1 launch.

We will get through this together. Elks have always shown a tremendous amount of caring, sharing, and grit, and now is no different. As always, the CIP is here to help showcase that #ElksAlwaysCare.

The Elks National Foundation allocated $14.6 million this upcoming year to fund the Community Investments Program. Lodges meet local needs through grants that offer Elks opportunities to serve their community in ways that will raise the Lodge’s profile, energize the membership, encourage former members to return to the fold, and gain the notice of people who want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things. To learn more about the Community Investments Program, please visit elks.org/CIP. If you would like to speak to someone in the CIP office, we can be reached at LodgeGrants@elks.org or 773/755-4730.

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