Who Are Elks?

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 principles 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.


The Elks organization was founded in New York City on February 16, 1868 under the name "Jolly Corks" by 15 actors, entertainers and others associated with the theater. In ensuing years, membership expanded to other professions.


This Fraternal Order was founded "To promote and practice the four cardinal virtues of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its members; to quicken the spirit of American Patriotism and cultivate good fellowship."

Mission Statement

To inculcate 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 quicken the spirit of American patriotism; to cultivate good fellowship; to perpetuate itself as a fraternal organization, and to provide for its government, 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.

We are...

  • A fraternal order with hundreds of thousands of members and a 150+ year history.
  • A network of nearly 2000 lodges in communities all over the country.
  • A generous charitable foundation that each year gives millions in scholarships, an inspiration to youth, a friend to veterans and more.


The Order is a non-political, non-sectarian and strictly American fraternity. Proposal for membership in the Order is only by invitation of a member in good standing. To be accepted as a member, one must be an American citizen, believe in God, be of good moral character and be at least 21 years old.

What We Do

The Order spends more than $80,000,000 every year for benevolent, educational and patriotic community-minded programs in such fields as benefitting special needs children, sponsoring Elks National Foundation scholarships, scouting, athletic teams, veterans' works, a national "Hoop Shoot" free-throw contest involving more than 3 million children, physical and occupational therapy programs and patriotic programs.

The youth of our country have always been important to the Order. It is for this reason the Elks Drug Awareness Education Program was launched to warn primary grade students and their parents of the dangers in drug use. Additionally, every lodge observes June 14th as Flag Day, a tradition which the Elks began in 1907 and was later adopted by the Congress as an official observance.

Join the Elks - You'll be in Good Company

Check out some of our more Famous Members ...


President John F. Kennedy

President Gerald R. Ford

President Warren G. Harding

President Harry S. Truman

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Dwight D. Eisenhower


Leonard Bernstein

Harry Houdini

Andy Devine

Clint Eastwood

Walter Leland Cronkite

Rudy Vallee

Gene Autry

Lawrence Welk

Bruce Lorne Campbell

Buffalo Bill – William F. Cody

Irving Berlin

Will Rogers

Buster Keaton

Donald O. Conner

Paul William Petersen

Al Jolson

Military & Political Leaders

General George S. Patton

General John Pershing

Major General James M. Gavin

General Douglas MacArthur

Tip O’Neill

Louis Lincoln Emmerson

Rose Mofford

William Knowland

Frederick Funston

Warren G. Magnuson

Robert F. Wagner Jr.

William M. Tuck


Babe Ruth

Knute Rockne

Petros Papadakis

Mickey Mantle

Frank “Spec” Shea

Tim Cahill

John Condo

Ace Parker

Eli Manning

William “Billy” Southworth