Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “your tax dollars at work.” It doesn’t paint a very inspiring picture, does it? The government takes your money, then proceeds to waste it.

Fortunately, voluntarily giving money to organizations like the NRA Foundation is a much more satisfying experience. Have you ever wondered what exactly all those Friends of NRA banquets benefit? As it turns out, the list of beneficiaries is quite substantial.

Last year, the NRA Foundation raised just over $42 million dollars from Friends of NRA benefits, direct donations, and corporate participation. The NRA Foundation turns around and invests a whopping 87 percent of every dollar into programs including youth shooting safety, range development, training, safety, wildlife, and natural resources. In 2014, that equated to $32.9 million of direct grants plus additional program funding.

Where does all that money come from? The lion’s share comes from hundreds of Friends of NRA benefit events held across the country every year. Since 1992, there have been over 16,000 Friends of NRA banquets and fundraisers drawing 2.8 million people like you and me. These events have brought in over $260 million to date. National sponsors are a critical revenue component. Companies including Daniel Defense, Henry, Gaston Glock Style, Mossberg, SecureIt, Numzaan Safaris, NRA Outdoors, and ArmaLite provide financial support at the national level.

So where does all that money go? Most of it is distributed in the form of grants.

NRA Foundation Grants support local youth programs like the 4-H Archery club in Henderson County ,Texas.
NRA Foundation Grants support local youth programs like the 4-H Archery club in Henderson County, Texas.

A charitable advisor

Grants? Yes, grants. The NRA Foundation operates like a charitable advisor. Not-for-profit organizations and clubs apply for grant money to get good ideas and programs off the ground. This model puts ideas, decision making, and program implementation in the hands of folks at the community level, where it should be.

Since its inception in 1990, the NRA Foundation has made over 35,000 grants supporting shooting, hunting, training and all others sorts of activity totaling $269 million. Per the Foundation, some of the major program activities include:

  • Provide life-saving messages to over 26 million school children through our Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program
  • Expand and develop our competitions and training of coaches, law enforcement, instructors, women and youth
  • Support the development and improvement of ranges and shooting facilities across the country
  • Educate young people all across the country in firearm safety through their affiliations with organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, 4-H Clubs, and others that receive NRA Foundation grants
  • Introduce more students to wildlife and conservation through art with the George Montgomery/NRA Youth Wildlife Art Contest

Sometimes, the NRA Foundation’s work hits close to home. The Clemson University Shotgun Club received grants for several years in the form of dozens of cases of ammo per year. According to Team Coach Rick Willey, “I would say the NRA Foundation definitely made an impact in the program, especially in the early years when we were trying to get it off the ground.” Now, with help from the Foundation, the Clemson Shotgun Club is thriving, and cash-strapped students can learn, compete, and, most importantly, grow the clay shooting sports. They’re our collective future after all.

I’ve seen the results firsthand, as my son spent four years in the program. More importantly, I watched as other students expressed interest, got involved, and are now active clay target shooters.

It’s the local programs that make the difference, one shooter or outdoor sportsman at a time. To get a taste of local investment from the NRA Foundation, consider just a small sampling of 2014 program grants.

  • Bartlett High School Riflery Club, Alaska
  • Arkansas BB/Airgun Program
  • Boy Scouts of America, Grand Canyon Council, Arizona
  • Arrowhead Fish & Game Conservation Club, California
  • Colorado 4-H Foundation
  • Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Smyrna High School, Delaware
  • Camp Ocala, Florida 4-H Foundation
  • Coeur d’Alene High School Viking Trap & Skeet Team, Idaho
  • Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, Indiana
  • The Lazarus Gunners Youth Trapshooting Club, Kansas
  • Acadiana Youth Hunter Education Club, Inc., Louisiana
  • Paw Paw Conservation Club, Michigan
  • Future Farmers of America (FFA), Bowling Green Missouri, Trapshooting Team, Missouri
  • University of Nebraska Rifle Club
  • Franklin Revolver & Rifle Association, Inc., New Jersey
  • Alleghany High School Hunter Safety Team, North Carolina
  • Coffee County Schools, Central High School Claybusters, Tennessee
  • Seven Bends 4-H Hunter Education Club, Virginia
  • Wyoming State Youth Hunter Education Challenge

These are but a few of the recipients of recent NRA Foundation grants and programs. I include these examples in hopes that you’ll be as surprised as I was to learn about all the types of organizations the foundation supports. As you read through the list, you might be surprised to see all the high school and college rifle and shotgun teams. All we hear on the nightly news is the bad side of schools and guns. Groups supported by the NRA Foundation are starting safe and responsible shooting teams and clubs at schools across the nation.

Some of the most effective grantees are national organizations with hundreds of local chapters. You’ll find 4-H and Boy Scouts of America programs funded in part by the NRA Foundation in nearly every state. I made the mistake of trying to count the number of 4-H affiliates that received grants last year, and I got dizzy around 500. That’s a lot of impact! Likewise, there are hundreds of Boy Scout Troops getting similar assistance.

NRA Foundation grants allow the Annual Paralyzed Veterans of America National Trapshoot Circuit to invite 25 youth shooters completely free of charge.
NRA Foundation grants allow the Annual Paralyzed Veterans of America National Trapshoot Circuit to invite 25 youth shooters completely free of charge.

You’ll also notice that most of the programs supported by the NRA Foundation are geared for youth—about 70 percent. Kids who grow up exposed to safety and instruction programs become responsible shooters. It’s the next generation that’s going to be responsible for protecting an important part of our National Heritage.

Targeted endowments

While it sounds financially complex, an endowment is simply a permanent fund, like a bank account, that is set up to provide benefits to specific programs forever. Part of the annual investment and interest income from endowment funds goes to support programs each and every year. The idea is to provide continuity in the delivery of programs deemed essential for the long haul.

The NRA Foundation operates over 15 different endowment funds including:

  • General Endowment: Gun safety, hunter education, youth programs, and scholarships.
  • Competitive Shooting & National Championships Endowment
  • Disabled Shooting Endowment: Hunting and recreational shooting opportunities for Americans with physical disabilities.
  • Firearms & Marksmanship Training Endowment
  • Gun Collecting Endowment: Promotion of gun collecting and the historical, technological and cultural disciplines that gun collecting embraces.
  • Gunsmith Training Endowment
  • Handloading Education Endowment
  • Hunting & Wildlife Conservation Endowment: Hunting education, wildlife management, conservation and hunter education materials.
  • Law Enforcement Endowment: Educational support for professional firearms-related skills, state-of-the-art gun safety and marksmanship training.
  • National Firearms Museum Endowment: Activities of the National Firearms Museum.
  • NRA Voice of Freedom Fund Endowment: Public education and communication programs.
  • Range Facilities and Programs Endowment
  • Scholarships Endowment: Academic support for students who demonstrate a need, aptitude and desire to excel in scholastics, leadership and the shooting sports.
  • Women’s Programs Endowment
  • Youth Education Endowment

In 2014, the NRA Foundation created two new endowment funds to address the growing needs of the shooting community:

  • NRA Hunters’ Leadership Fund Endowment: Promotion and protection of hunting rights and traditions for the country’s 13 million active hunters.
  • Women’s Leadership Endowment: Annual support of NRA educational programs aimed at the specific interests of women.

You can help!

Approximately 75 percent of revenue to the NRA Foundation comes from local Friends of NRA events. Odds are, there’s one close to you. To find out, check the Friends of NRA website. If there’s not one near you, how about starting one of your own? It’s hard to imaging a better return on your investment to the shooting sports. If you’re more comfortable just supporting the Foundation, consider becoming a sponsor. Whatever you do, take a few minutes to check out the NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA websites. I suspect you’ll be amazed at the breadth of their impact.

This article was produced in cooperation with the NRA.

Images courtesy NRA Foundation

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