A Raisin to a Sarlacc

In Star Wars, a sarlacc is a massive, 100-meter-long creature that feeds on anyone unfortunate enough to fall into its mouth. A sarlacc’s appetite is voracious, and its stomach is big enough to accommodate.

What does a sarlacc have to do with the Elks National Foundation?

On April 1, the ENF is making a change to its gift acceptance policy. All gifts with a silent designations (gifts where the donor does not specify which program they would like to support) will go toward the All Programs fund, allowing the donations to make an immediate impact on Elks and their communities.

Currently, when an undesignated gift is given to the ENF, policy dictates that it must go to the Endowment Fund. Thanks to years of generous, loyal support from our donors and prudent stewardship, the Endowment Fund has grown to be the powerful engine that propels our philanthropy. For the current fiscal year, the Endowment Fund generated more than $37 million for spending.

However, because the endowment is self-sustaining, current donations to it have virtually no bearing on the performance of the fund.

“If you’re donating to us to make an impact, clearly the best way to do it is by designating to one of our programs,” said Director Jim O’Kelley on a recent episode of the Midday Minute YouTube show. “In terms of impact, a gift to the Endowment Fund is like giving a raisin to a sarlacc.”

Last year, the Endowment Fund received $4.5 million in donations, but only about 10 percent of that money was explicitly designated to the Endowment Fund. The rest was earmarked for the endowment by policy because the gift designations were silent.

With the policy change effective April 1, undesignated donations will have an immediate, tangible impact. Instead of being swallowed by the Endowment Fund where their impact would be negligible, if not nonexistent, undesignated gifts will be earmarked for the All Programs Fund, where they’ll go to work immediately for our program recipients.

“With this change,” O’Kelley said, “we can conservatively budget an additional $2 million that will be available for spending on our programs.” That’s money that will put food in the hands of veterans and other people in Elks’ communities who need it, instead of tossing another raisin to the sarlacc.

In addition to the gift acceptance policy change, there is another exciting announcement: a new Gratitude Grant bonus! The new bonus, called the Fundraising Increase Bonus, is earned when a Lodge raises 10 percent more than it raised in the previous fiscal year. Worth $500, the bonus can be earned this year to be applied toward next year’s Gratitude Grant.

With the additional bonus, Gratitude Grants will be able to reach a total of $4,000, double the size of the base grant. When added to the Beacon and Spotlight grants, every Lodge will have the potential to earn $10,000 in small CIP grants.

“When we debuted the Community Investments Program back in 2005, our goal was to get grants to go from $2,500 to $10,000,” said Assistant Director Debbie Kahler Doles. “And here we are.”

The increased fundraising coupled with the policy change for undesignated gifts will help Elks build even stronger communities.

“These are great changes that are going to solidify our status as a public charity while generating more funds for our programs,” said O’Kelley. “A win-win.”

To learn more about these exciting updates and the reasoning behind them, tune into episode 81 of the Midday Minute!

The Elks National Foundation, the charitable arm of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, helps more than 750,000 Elks and more than 1,800 Lodges nationwide build stronger communities through programs that support youth, serve veterans, and meet needs in areas where Elks live and work. To learn more, visit elks.org/enf.

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