History and Mission
To instill the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to recognize a belief in God; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its Members; to enhance the spirit of American patriotism; to cultivate good fellowship; to perpetuate itself as a fraternal organization, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America will serve the people and communities through benevolent programs, demonstrating that Elks Care and Elks Share.
Nationally, we enjoy a membership of nearly one million members and a 142-year history. Our network of 2,000 lodges located throughout America supports a generous charitable foundation that each year gives millions in scholarships, acts as an inspiration to youth, provides care & entertainment to veterans and more.
How the Elks Began
An Englishman by the name of Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian, arrived in New York in 1867 after a successful theatrical career in London. He wanted to imitate a English fraternity named after the (African) Buffalo, but others wanted an American animal, hence the Elk was selected for its peaceful and protective nature. While in England, Mr. Vivian, had heard the novelist Charles Dickens speak on benevolence. Inspired by Charles Dickens, Charles Vivian included the word “Benevolent” into our title; the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Since the inception of the Elks in 1868, the organization has grown to nearly 1.0 million men and women. For more details about the rich history of the Elks check out www.elkshistory.org.
Who are the Elks?
Elks are people from all walks of life who believe in the golden rule and contributing to the lives and well-being of those around them. We guide ourselves through life with strong morals and a great love of our fellow man, always adhering to the founding principals of our order: Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity.
Over the course of our history, the Elks have contributed nearly $4 billion in donations for America’s youth, veterans, disadvantaged and handicapped, and to individuals and groups in support of patriotic and civic programs. Each year the Elks give more than $200 million in contributions and is one of the largest private providers of college scholarships in the United States.
Rarely does the organization seek recognition for the profound change it has affected on millions of lives, nor have we gone to the general public with fund-raising efforts or received monies from any level of government. Instead, the Elks donated the first veterans' hospital to the government and contribute regularly to schools, police and fire departments. We proudly display our volunteer spirit and gladly share our resources to make the world a better place for all. Each order has elected officials who serve without compensation; it is through their sacrifice of time and energy that we are able to operate each Lodge and contribute so vastly to our country.