January 10, 2014
This is a study on the feasibility of raising significant contributions from businesses, business leaders, and nonlawyers and proposals for the first statewide coordinated fund raising effort for better access to justice to low-income individuals and families in Massachusetts.
The Revenue Enhancement Committee of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission conducted interviews with experts and worked with an independent firm to draft this report in 2013. Key findings from the feasibility study included the following information.
• Outside the legal community, awareness of the need for civil legal aid is very low. There is a need for educational efforts being led by the “right people.”
• Interviewees felt an initial campaign was likely to produce $4 to $5 million a year, rather than the $25 million proposed goal in the Case Statement given the low awareness. Messaging of the campaign is important.
• The troubled economy will not significantly affect the results of the campaign.
• The legal community is expected by nonlawyers to provide key leadership for the campaign.
• The campaign should emphasize fairness and equal justice, not more lawyers, should provide a lot more information about what civil legal aid does, and should describe the use of funds “for innovative projects for increased efficiency and impact,” not “recapturing lost positions and reopening lost offices.”
• Charitable donations from corporations will provide a small portion of the support; therefore, the focus for funding should be on wealthy individuals, business leaders, and private foundations.
• Describing the outcomes achieved for individuals, especially children, will elicit more support than describing the categories of problems.
To reach the $4 to $5 million goal in three years, the Committee recommends the campaign unfold in three phases, starting January 2014.
• Phase 1-Education/Awareness and Volunteer Cultivation Program:
At this stage, the Fund for Legal Aid and a Board of Directors will be formed. Initial funding will be obtained and volunteers trained.
• Phase 2-Advance and Major Gifts Campaign:
Here, the leadership cultivation is continued, more gifts are solicited, and the “community” campaign is planned and the campaign goal finalized.
Phase 3-Broad-based Campaign:
Lastly, the final goal will be announced, the public phase of the campaign will kick off, and community gifts and support from broader public will be sought.
PUBLICATION DETAILSFormat: Research
Publication Type: Report
Geographic coverage, US: Massachusetts
Topics: Legal Needs | Access to Justice Commissions | Strategic Planning | Strategic Philanthropy
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