BE AN ELF

We put smiles on the faces of underprivileged children on Christmas morning, and insipire volunteers with the spirit of Christmas

Playa del Rey, CA   |  https://www.BeAnElf.org

Mission

Be An Elf's mission is to bring joy to underprivileged kids on Christmas morning and inspire volunteers with the true spirit of Christmas. Every December the charity's volunteers adopt letters to Santa written by children who often ask only for "a warm coat", "Christmas dinner", "new shoes, " and a new toy. Volunteers adopt letters online from the US Postal Service's Operation Santa® program, which has been distributing kids' letters to Santa every year since 1912. Be An Elf is not affiliated with the USPS, but the charity supports the program by building public awareness of it, recruiting new volunteers, offering tips for volunteering, adopting letters online, and providing support to parents seeking help. Google gives Be An Elf an in-kind grant of $10,000 per month in free advertising.

Notes from the nonprofit

Be An Elf is a tax-exempt 501c3 charity. While not affiliated with USPS Operation Santa ®, Be An Elf supports it by doing the following: - Recruiting thousands of new volunteers to adopt letters, through a major grant from Google - Providing an excellent guide for effective volunteering on our How to be an Elf page - By offering support to financially struggling families who desire help for the holidays on our Seeking Gifts? page - By creating public awareness of the program online, and through our annual news releases. Since 2007, Google has given us $10,000 per month in free advertising. Be An Elf's mission: to make more underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning and to inspire people with the real spirit of the holidays. Together we can bring joy to more children at Christmas.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director

Mr. Patrick Cleveland Reynolds

Main address

8117 W Manchester Ave Suite 500 ATTN Patrick Reynolds

Playa del Rey, CA 90293 USA

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Formerly known as

Make A Christmas Wish

EIN

51-0655010

NTEE code info

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Adult, Child Matching Programs (O30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In the 2020's increasing numbers of Americans are financially challenged. Many struggle to make ends meet, and for families with children, providing Christmas gifts for them can be difficult to impossible. Be An Elf offers to connect struggling families with Christmas volunteers who would like to help. There are many who are looking for a good way to give back at Christmas. Be An Elf's mission is to make underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning and to inspire people with the real spirit of Christmas. By creating increasing public awareness of the USPS Operation Santa program among both volunteers and families in need, we bring joy to low-income children every year in time for Christmas.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Website outreach

Be An Elf's mission is to make underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning and to inspire volunteers with the real spirit of Christmas. Every December the US Postal Service's Operation Santa ® program permits the public to read and adopt the neediest letters to Santa online. Volunteers can then mail their gifts directly to the children who wrote the letters. The saddest ones ask Santa only for new shoes, a special toy, or Christmas dinner. In 2020, the USPS took the entire program online and expanded the program to be available nationwide.

There’s no middle man or charity; it’s micro-philanthropy direct from each volunteer to a child, when people adopt letters and send gifts. Volunteers catch the true spirit of the holidays and put smiles on the faces of underprivileged kids on Christmas morning.

Be An Elf is a tax-exempt charity that uses donations made at its website to adopt letters and send gift cards marked only, "from Santa" to the families it adopts.

Population(s) Served
Families
Children and youth

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

White House Lifetime Achievement Award from President Obama 2016

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of new website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Out-of-home youth, Extremely poor people, Low-income people

Related Program

Website outreach

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our Google Ads campaign advertises search phrases like "help with Christmas" to let low-income families know about the USPS Operation Santa program. Ads send visitors www.BeAnElf.org/seeking-gifts/.

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Out-of-home youth, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Website outreach

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our Google Ads campaign advertises search phrases like, "volunteer at Christmas" & "adopt a family". We recruit many new volunteers who send children gifts through the USPS Operation Santa website.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our goals are:

- Increase overall public awareness of the USPS Operation Santa program.

- Recruit volunteers new and old to adopt letters and send children gifts, and provide them with tips for effective volunteering.

- Raise funds so our volunteers can adopt additional letters and send more gifts to needy kids.

- Increase awareness among parents who are struggling financially, and may want help for the holidays. We make families in need aware of the USPS program, and offer them tips for writing letters to Santa.

- Increase our website's SEO rankings for organic searches (unpaid clicks, separate from our paid Google Ads campaign (which we get as a grant from Google).

To increase overall public awareness of the USPS Operation Santa program, our primary strategies include raising funds to make the following possible. Our strategy is to outsource a professional fundraiser as many charities do.

To achieve our goals we need to maintain and improve our large, free account at Google ads. That has become and increasingly complex task, and we now need to hire a digital ad agency specializing in non-profits. Google Ads has referred several to us. Their job will be to continually groom and maintain our $10,000 per month in-kind grant from Google for advertising, and to also provide a Social Media expert to increase our altitude every December on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

They may also have an in-house SEO expert to do a much needed Search Engine Optimization campaign. Even though we advertise the following search phrases on Google for free, our goal will be to have them come up higher in the organic, unpaid search results on all the major search engines, not just Google. Phrases for our SEO campaign will include, “volunteer at Christmas,” “children’s charities,” “Christmas charities”, "help with Christmas, "and help for the holidays."

We also wish to hire a top public relations firm, given the funding needed. Their job will be to get news coverage of the USPS program, and to mention our site as a good guide to it. Ideally they will enlist one or two of their most famous film star clients to publicly adopt a letter to Santa online. With that, we could get coverage in People, Access Hollywood, and other shows.

With or without a top publicist, however, every year Be An Elf will still send news releases to media. Past releases are on view in our Press Room at www.BeAnElf.org.

Our first press release in 2021 will be sent just after Thanksgiving and be aimed at increasing awareness not only among the public, but also among families with kids who need assistance for the holidays. We will ask media to run a story about how parents who are struggling financially might be able to get extra gifts for their children through the USPS Operation Santa program. We want them to know that Christmas volunteers may adopt their kids' letters to Santa before they (of course) continue along their way to the jolly man at the North Pole. We'll mention that if they visit BeAnElf.org's Seeking Gifts? page, they will get some great tips for writing to Santa.

Another message will go to HR Directors at companies, proposing a holiday program for employees. The Plan for Companies page at our website suggests organizing volunteer employees into teams to adopt families.

A critical strategy is raising funds to make all this happen. If we are successful, our volunteers will be able to adopt additional letters to Santa, and we'll make more kids smile on Christmas.

In December, 2020, Be An Elf raised $67,000, so we now have the capacity to hire a fundraising consultant and digital ad agency for SEO, and grooming of our Google Ads account. If funds remain, we may be able to hire a publicist this Christmas. As Executive Director of Be An Elf and an unpaid volunteer, I am capable of making good choices and will hire the best team our limited funds will permit. We have the capacity to reach all of the goals outlined here, to be sure, and we know that the more funds we raise, the more goals we will be able to attain. Above all we want to continue making low-income children smile on Christmas morning.

Be An Elf, under the leadership of its Executive Director Patrick Reynolds, has secured a $10,000 per month grant from Google for free advertising.

We have built a strong website that has improved over the years, and inspired thousands of new volunteers to adopt letters to Santa from children in need.

Our news releases have secured excellent coverage by The Today Show, Fox News, CNBC and numerous other print and broadcast outlets.

We have built a strong and vibrant organization which has resulted in thousands of smiles on little faces on Christmas morning, since our founding in 2004.

Financials

BE AN ELF
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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BE AN ELF

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Patrick Reynolds

Be An Elf

Term: 2007 -

Patrick Reynolds

CEO of the Foundation for a Smokefree America

Alexandra Reynolds

Board Member

Alex Maddalosso

Board Member

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/21/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability