We Don’t Just Want Your Money, We Want Your Ideas!
Mark D. Bloom, Chair,
the progress of our Annual Circuit Campaigns toward reaching our goal of $275,500. I am happy to report that our wonderful Treasurer Marti Kopacz assures me that once again this year we are well-positioned to meet and exceed that target.
I also know that many of you get Campaign updates of a somewhat different nature – emails and phone calls from your Circuit Campaign Chairs and their deputies, asking/reminding/begging you to remember the Foundation in your charitable giving again for 2016. So to all of you who have given once, twice or not just yet, my sincere and heartfelt thanks for supporting the mission of the Foundation to provide financial assistance to pro bono consumer bankruptcy organizations all across the country – 28 states this year!
The generous response of our Fellows to these requests for donations is matched in intensity by the response of those organizations to the solicitation for grant requests issued each year by our Pro Bono Committee so devotedly chaired by Jim Baillie. As many of you heard in San Francisco this Fall, the Committee received a record number of grant requests in 2016 – so many of them so deserving that in an extraordinary display of dedication to the pro bono effort the Boards of both the Foundation and College voted to reach into our reserves to fund a record $468,000 in grants – just shy of $150,000 more than the previous record set in 2015. Motivated by this experience, the College has appointed a Task Force to explore the growth and deployment of those reserves in future years, and we look forward to the report from that Task Force at our Spring Meeting in 2017.
So to get to the point of this column (okay to admit you were wondering when I would get around to that!), we need not just your money to address the ever-growing needs of the pro bono legal services organizations that we are privileged to support, but we also need your ideas. So many of you have experience as leaders in other civic and charitable organizations (we know this to be true; we’ve read the “Part B” section of the nominating forms that got you inducted!), and we ask now that you share that experience with the Foundation. Our Development Committee chaired by Richard Carmody continues to propose innovative ideas to increase our revenues – most recently the tax-neutral direction of mandatory 401(k) plan withdrawals for those Fellows having reached age 70 1/2. Our Best Practices Committee chaired by Marti Kopacz continues to share productive ideas among the Circuit Campaign teams -- the One Billable Hour ask to all Fellows; the Four Figure Club for those of a mind to contribute $1000 or more; and endless variations of matches, raffles, wine donations, on-line auctions and the like. Hey, even my own seemingly feeble Dutch Auction at the All Fellows Luncheon in San Francisco brought us a healthy four-figure return – and a great time for those lucky Fellows who made the wine country trip with me to Sonoma!
So please, volunteer to serve on one of those Committees – we’d love to include you in the telephonic meetings and uplifting email exchanges. Or if service on a Committee sounds like too much of a commitment right now but you’ve got a great – or even just a good -- idea to share, or even a Contacts file laden with executives from Corporate America whose companies might want to support our efforts -- do let us know. Send to me at email@example.com, and I’ll see that whatever you have to offer gets to the right place!
And with our thanks for your support of the Foundation, wishing you all a great holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
I always write my year-end column with the greatest anticipation, checking several times a week for latest updates about