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Seed money…

Last week, I had one of those experiences that reminds me why I love being the president and CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance. I led a group of fraternal members on a series of visits with members of Congress and watched them secure the future of the fraternal tax exemption by telling their stories of the good works that they and their colleagues do in the backyards of the lawmakers with whom we met.

My job was simply to provide the “elevator speech” – the 2-minute synopsis of who the American Fraternal Alliance and its members are and what we do from a 30,000-foot perspective. I then turned it over to the most effective and capable lobbyists on Capitol Hill: the local chapter leaders of Alliance member societies. They added the real-life color commentary about the impact of their societies’ community service activities for lawmakers and their tax counsel. I watched as legislators and their staff – many of whom did not have a firm understanding of what a fraternal was – absorbed the incredible value these individuals and their organizations had on their constituents.

If there was a theme for the comments that each of these fraternalists delivered it was “seed money.” They demonstrated that the added value of well-organized and well-funded volunteerism can pay dividends not just for a day or a week, but for a lifetime. They also showed the incredible flexibility of fraternal volunteerism by being able to meet the needs of the local community on an almost immediate basis. And they drove home the point that fraternal volunteerism “fills the gaps” that the government’s social safety net was never intended to address.

Check out our Facebook page for a few photos of these incredible ambassadors’ congressional visits. A special “thank you” goes out to the Thrivent Financial government affairs team for organizing the visits and for bringing such outstanding representatives of their society to Washington, DC. The Thrivent members were joined by representatives from Catholic Order of Foresters, Catholic United Financial, Gleaner Life, KSKJ Life, Modern Woodmen of America, Sons of Norway and Royal Neighbors of America, which made this event a truly fraternal-wide experience. A tremendous “thank you” to all these selfless individuals who traveled to Capitol Hill to tell their stories, and to the CEOs of these societies who generously funded this initiative.

Like the “seed money” provided by fraternals that results in beautiful blossoms of volunteerism in communities across the country, the investment these societies made in having their members tell their stories to public policymakers will help the Alliance and all its members maintain the tax exemption that allows fraternals to fulfill their unique and critically important financial and community service missions.

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