On January 16, 1895, the original 18 members of Sons of Norway gathered for their first official meeting. Today we celebrate the 125 years that have passed since that meeting, as well as the fact that we have grown to become the largest Norwegian organization outside of Norway. Sons of Norway is now a thriving international organization with 50,000 members at 350 lodges across the United States, Canada and Norway, and our insurance sales are surpassing our goals year after year.The Sons of Norway Foundation (US), an outreach program of Sons of Norway, was established in 1966. This new corporation enabled members and friends of Sons of Norway to provide financial support for charitable, cultural, athletic and academic programs and then received receipts for personal tax deduction purposes. Many Canadian members and lodges supported this program; however, they could not take advantage of the US tax receipt system.
An informative video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_eZDMuubQk
A Canadian Foundation
At the 1968 District 7 Convention, a resolution was approved authorizing the District Board of Directors to begin the process of establishing a charitable foundation that would serve Canadian lodges and members in the same way and based on the same principles as the (US) Sons of Norway Foundation operated. By 1971, the paperwork had been completed enabling the establishment of the Sons of Norway Foundation in Canada.
The Sons of Norway Foundation in Canada was established as a Charitable Corporation under the Canada Corporations Act with Letters Patent issued on 6th of August 1971. The applicant for the charitable corporation was the entire District 7 Board of Directors (1970-72 term). Once the certificate of operations had been issued, the first meeting of the Foundation was held and the following officers constituted the first team of officers: Tormod Rekdal, President; Haakon Soros, Vice President; and Henry Sotvedt, Secretary/Treasurer.
The objectives of the Canadian Foundation were the collection of funds by donations and bequests to be used for educational, cultural and charitable endeavors in the form of scholarships/bursaries and grants.
The startup capital of $40,000 for the Sons of Norway Foundation in Canada came from the District 7 Charter Flight program (Canada to Norway) of the 1960’s. This was followed by an appeal to all Lodges in District 7 to obtain voting memberships with a donation or cumulative donations totaling $1000. Eidsvold Lodge in Victoria started off with a $100 donation, followed by Rondane Lodge of Prince George with a $200 donation. The first Lodge to obtain a voting membership was Viking Lodge of Surrey, BC in 1978, this was followed by Varden Lodge of New Westminster in 1979 and Sleipner Lodge of Vancouver in 1980.
Alberta and Saskatchewan Join
In 1978, it was decided that invitations should be sent out to Alberta and Saskatchewan lodges to become active participants in the Foundation. This conformed to the original intent of our Foundation, such as being relevant and of service to Sons of Norway in all of Canada. This also meant that Voting Memberships could be obtained by lodges and affiliate groups in those provinces therby being full participants in our Foundation.
In 1980, under a reorganized format, voting memberships were awarded to the International Director positions of Districts 4 and 7, and to Districts 4 and 7. It should be noted that a person representing a voting membership must be a Canadian resident.
The Foundation operated in concert with the District 7 Conventions until the 1980 District Convention in Prince George. The Annual General Meetings in even years were held at the same time and at the same location as the District 7 Conventions. In the new organization format, the Board of Directors would now consist of six members elected from representatives of all lodges and groups holding voting memberships. Once elected as National Directors, the Board members would elect their Officers – that being President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer.
Classes of Membership
When the Foundation was established, there were four classes of memberships, namely: voting memberships, sustaining memberships, life memberships and honorary memberships.
Initially, one-time membership dues were set at $10 for sustaining memberships and $100 for life memberships. The sustaining memberships were later changed to all members of Sons of Norway in Canada being automatically classified as Sustaining Members in the Sons of Norway Foundation in Canada. This meant the $10 membership charge for Sons of Norway members was discontinued. It should be noted that sustaining, life and honorary memberships have no voting privileges. The Life Membership category was discontinued 2014.
In December 1973, the Foundation established the post-secondary scholarship program. This resulted in three $300 scholarships being awarded in 1974.The following year, 1975, three more awards were added to the program.
In 1979 the first Honorary Memberships were issued. The purpose of this honor was to recognize those who have made significant contributions to our Foundation. This special recognition is limited to only ten members at any one time. The first to be honored by this plaudit were Arne Sorbo, Tormod Rekdal and Haakon Soros. Since then, Honorary Memberships have been awarded to Harald Revaa, Evelyn Novik, Leif Nordahl, Ross Anderson and Jack Lysne.
Our Official Logo
In 2007, after a competition, an official logo was adopted for the Foundation to be used on all letters, receipts, forms, business cards and other business paraphernalia.
In 2008 a seventh member was added to the Board of Directors.
Where We Are Today
As of the end of 2015, there are 36 voting members. This number includes twenty-seven Lodges, four Torske Klubbs, one Ladies Auxiliary and two District Lodges (4 & 7) and two International Director (4 & 7) membership units.
In our 45 years of operation, our Foundation has grown from a starting capital of $40,000 to an operation with assets closing in on $600,000. This growth has been steady with some significant donation spurts as well as the high interest era of the 1980’s. In spite of current low investment returns, we can still report marginal to modest growth. All of this could not be said without the dedication and involvement of so many in the management of our organization as we provide funding to individuals and groups in the pursuit of educational, cultural, recreational and general lifestyle dreams.
Awareness of our Foundation programs, for fund raising or financial support will ensure the Foundation will continue to serve the Sons of Norway and affiliate community well into the future.