Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Sons of Norway’s CEO Eivind Heiberg, Fraternal Director Linda Pederson and Cultural Coordinator Anna Stoltenberg sat down with the Congressman in the Sons of Norway Board Room. As the Congressman admired the pictures of the 33 past Sons of Norway International Presidents, Heiberg outlined how the Fraternal Life Insurance Company provides financial protection, Norwegian cultural awareness, and charitable support through its Foundation.
Sons of Norway is a 501 (c)(8) tax exemption status, granted to fraternal benefit societies in the 20th century, which means that proceeds from the sale of financial products are used to support the organization’s fraternal and Foundation endeavors. With this in mind, Sons of Norway shared with the Congressman how the tax exempt status allows Sons of Norway to enhance the lives of its members and make a difference in their communities.
Started by 18 Norwegian immigrants who wanted to protect one another in times of great hardship, Sons of Norway’s membership grew and so did the effort to uphold the Norwegian traditions in America. Today Sons of Norway is a thriving philanthropic organization supported by nearly 17,000 insurance certificates currently in force. The creation of the Sons of Norway Foundation (501(c)(3)) in 1966 meant that scholarships for educational exchange, grants for community cultural programming and humanitarian aid in times of great need could be offered in addition to the financial security and fraternalism already being provided to members.
Pederson emphasized the value of fraternal benefit societies by citing a recent study done by Phillip Swagel, a professor at the University of Maryland, which states that for every $1 the federal government invests, fraternal benefit societies produce $76 in value back to society. In 2013 alone, Sons of Norway members organized nearly 20,000 civic events, volunteered almost 400,000 hours and donated over $1,000,000 to their communities. Congressman Paulsen was captivated by stories of lodge events and fundraisers put on by members including a fundraising gala hosted by Vennekretsen Lodge in Anoka, MN, that raised over $65,000 for Hope 4 Youth, a local nonprofit that provides services for homeless youth.
Congressman Paulsen also spoke highly of the Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast, founded by Sons of Norway in 1985, which he has previously attended. Bringing together people of Nordic heritage to offer thanks for the privileges of freedom, faith, family and friends, the event gives guests an opportunity to give back to the community by supporting two local non-profits - the Second Harvest Heartland and Minnesota Military Family Foundation.
Sons of Norway is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of its members, the communities it serves and the world in which we live. Congressman Paulsen posed with Heiberg and even agreed to take a selfie with Stoltenberg in order to post to NorwayConnects, Sons of Norway’s new website geared at bridging the gap between Norway and North America by connecting young adults with college, career, financial and cultural resources.