Our campaign was featured in the Winter 2016 edition of the Management Information Exchange. We were featured in a sidebar to the article, “Can We Raise More Money From the Legal Community?” by Meredith McBurney. Below is the content of that sidebar.
Ideas and Inspiration From a Successful Campaign
Delaware’s Campaign for Justice was started in 1999 and raised $354,000, a huge amount of money in 1999 in a state with fewer than 3,000 lawyers. Perhaps more significant is their growth — in 2015 the campaign raised $958,000, with $432,000 coming from law firms, $325,000 from individual attorneys, and the balance from corporations, foundations and special events.
Note: This is a combined campaign, raising funds for the three legal aid providers in Delaware — Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI), Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (LSCD), and the Delaware Volunteer Legal Services (DVLS). The president-elect of the Delaware Bar Association, a very persuasive fellow who was chairing the private bar campaign for CLASI, proposed that the legal community would provide stronger support if the programs joined together as one campaign and made one request. This has turned out to be a very successful model for Delaware, as well as for other metro areas and states around the country. However, this example is not being presented as an argument for a combined campaign – there is nothing here than cannot be done by individual program campaigns.
Secrets to Delaware’s success:
■ The campaign is volunteer driven: The volunteers feel very strong ownership of the campaign, at least in part because of the leadership structure that has been developed. (See next bullet point)
■ Strong, experienced leadership: There are three general chairs. One new chair is selected each year. They commit to three year terms, gradually taking on more responsibility. In their final year, they are the lead chair. By then, they really understand their responsibilities and are dedicated to beating the record of their predecessor! The chairs are carefully selected based on their reputation in the legal community and their history with the campaign. Within the legal community, it now is viewed as an honor to be asked to serve as a chair.
There are another thirty-six people serving as chairs of subcommittees charged with different sectors (counties, corporations, banks, etc.). All of the chairs are responsible for recruiting liaisons in law firms, making solicitations, and meeting the financial goals for their area.
■ Competent, experienced staff: The Campaign has retained the same consultant since its inception, a fundraising professional who came to the campaign with a solid understanding of legal aid and the legal community. She keeps everyone on task and analyzes successes and weaknesses during the campaign so that additional help can be added where it is needed.
The development director at CLASI takes responsibility for the behind-the-scenes administrative tasks — maintaining the donor database, processing contributions, producing acknowledgment letters, developing campaign materials, and providing regular reports to volunteers.
■ Strategic planning and goal setting: The general chairs, the executive directors of the three legal aid providers, the consultant and CLASI’s development director serve as the core organizing group. They identify and recruit the new general chair each year, evaluate all chairs and replace as needed, and set an annual goal for the overall campaign. The entire campaign committee meets regularly during the campaign to assess progress and make changes as needed.
■ Personal solicitations: A key subcommittee is the group doing solicitations in Wilmington, where the major law firms are located. Committee members take responsibility for making personal contacts with a “liaison” in the firms assigned to them. The liaison is asked to solicit his/her firm and individual partners in the firm. (From its inception, this campaign has focused on both firm and individual giving.) Associates are also solicited. The other subcommittee chairs make similar personal solicitations to those in their county or sector.
■ More information: Take a look at the Campaign’s website for more information about the campaign and their marketing strategies. Of particular interest is the all-important list of donors. Note that they start the donor list with the thirty-four judges giving to the campaign.
■ Enhancing staff: For some time, they have recognized the need for additional staff time to continue to grow their campaign. The time was right this year, because their long-time part-time consultant is retiring. They applied for and received a grant from a local foundation for two years to fund a full-time development officer to increase the Campaign outside of the legal community and to improve it within the legal community through major gifts and planned giving. The new development officer started this month and is beginning to work on the 2017 campaign.