January 28, 2008
Firearms Drive Funding for Elk Foundation Mission
MISSOULA, Mont.—With an unwavering mission to “ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat,” the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation depends on ample funding. And ample funding, officials reveal, depends on ample firearms.
The conservation organization expects to spend over $4 million this year on guns for fundraiser auctions, raffles and games that vary by state.
“Nationwide, there are 500-plus Elk Foundation banquets scheduled for 2008. Volunteers stock these events with a combination of guns from our national headquarters and local donations or purchases. Either way, the chance to win or buy a quality gun is a proven attraction for banquet attendees—and a major revenue source for our mission,” said Steve Decker, director of field programs for the Elk Foundation.
Elk Foundation banquet-merchandise buyers are headed to SHOT Show, the firearm industry’s annual trade show slated Feb. 2-5 in Las Vegas, with a $2 million checkbook for firearms purchases alone.
Decker estimates volunteers will spend another $2 to $2.5 million on guns purchased locally and through a national distributor.
“Guns are the cornerstone for us. You can come away from an Elk Foundation banquet with wonderful art, jewelry, furniture, hunting gear and more, but we build our program around top quality firearms,” said Decker.
Proof is in the pudding.
In 2007, a year when event fundraising was stagnant for many nonprofits in the conservation arena, the Elk Foundation wrapped up a gun-emphasized banquet season $1.1 million above budgeted net revenue projections. In turn, the organization enjoyed a monster year on the ground. The Elk Foundation in 2007 helped to enhance more acres of elk habitat and complete more land protection projects than anytime in its history, propelling its lifetime total impact to 5.2 million acres—a conservation effort worth over $473 million.
For 2008, Elk Foundation headquarters is featuring the Browning A-Bolt in .338, Mossberg 4X4 bolt action .300, Remington Model 700 SPS 7mm Remington mag, Marlin 1895 XLR .45/70 lever action, Browning T-Bolt Sporter in .22, Benelli Nova 3½-inch 12 gauge, Ruger Model 77 “Hawkeye” Standard in .30-06, Weatherby Vanguard Varmint Special in .22-250, Winchester Wildcat Sporter in .22, and Ruger Redhawk in .44 mag.
All gun recipients must pass standard federal background checks.
Some firearms are distributed through the organization’s headquarters in Missoula, Mont., making the Elk Foundation one of the biggest firearms licensees in the state. However, the job has become too big to be handled exclusively in-house.
Today, most banquet guns are warehoused and shipped by Davidson’s, one of the nation’s largest commercial firearm distributors.