The Power of a Red Basket
April 21, 2014We all know, love, and celebrate the fraternal “differentiator” – our unique organizational structure that allows us to help secure the financial futures of our members AND improve the communities in which they live and work through volunteerism and by providing funding for projects and programs that reflect our common bonds. And nothing makes me happier than using this blog to report on innovative ways member societies are fulfilling their financial and fraternal missions. Woodmen of the World/Omaha Woodmen Life Insurance Society’s “Red Basket” is one of those success stories. Like almost every Alliance member, individuals don’t just buy an insurance product from Woodmen of the World/Omaha, they become members. Woodmen of the World/Omaha allocates a portion of the dues members pay into their local chapter, along with proceeds from its financial services operations, to go back to the members and the chapters. Members who run the local chapters organize service projects and social activities to benefit fellow members and their communities at-large. In 2012, Woodmen of the World created Red Basket in an effort to expand member participation in funding community service projects and allow for a whole new generation of people to get involved. As the Red Basket web site so beautifully explains, the program “is for those who feel connected to their neighbors up the street and across the country. It’s for those who feel compelled to help but don’t necessarily have deep pockets. It’s for those who need help but don’t know quite how to ask for it.” The beauty of the program is its simplicity. By bringing together people who need help with those that want to help, Woodmen of the World fills dozens, if not hundreds, of projects that fall through the gaps of the nation’s government-funded social safety nets. These are projects that wouldn’t make the nightly news, but that mean everything to the individuals who are trying to put their lives back together after a disaster, pay the uncovered medical bills of a teenage cancer victim, or ensure that an elderly person has the in-home care that allows her to live out her days in dignity. It’s the personification of the 19th century fraternal model in a distinctly 21st century package. The best way to learn more about the program is to visit the Red Basket web site or Facebook page. Here are a couple of links to some recent media coverage of the program: Fox News D. C. Oklahoma News 9 Want to learn more about Red Basket? Post a comment here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you in touch with the right people at Woodmen of the World. And don’t forget to share your thoughts on the program – or, better yet, let folks know the innovative ways your society is fulfilling its fraternal mission – by posting comments on the blog or on the Alliance’s Facebook page. By the way, the 2014 Alliance Annual Meeting will include a day devoted to growing younger, including a workshop on Red Basket, presented by Mary Katherine Smith, Chapter and Community Outreach Liaison at Woodmen of the World. Be on the lookout for more information soon.