By Kavitha J. Babu and Joanna K. Giasafakis, Arent Fox LLP
Legal Aid’s Generous Associates Campaign started 21 years ago, led by associates, as a fundraising effort to counter the “Greedy Associates” phenomenon that was gaining momentum in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, the Campaign has grown exponentially and makes up nearly 25% of Legal Aid’s annual budget, reaching a high of $780,000 in 2008.
Throughout its history, the Campaign has stayed true to its name and has been run by associates from local Washington, D.C. law firms. The Campaign primarily targets associates and, while associates make up an overwhelming majority of the donors, partner participation has increased dramatically over the last several years. The involvement of partners has played a major role in the Campaign’s growing success in recent years. On average, gifts from partners are more than twice the associate average. If you have not considered approaching partners to donate to the Campaign before, we encourage you to tap into this potential resource this year.
At Arent Fox, we have found that a few strategies have been successful in garnering partners’ support. First, and this may seem obvious, approach the partners with whom you work. This is not much different from how we approach associates—we go to the people we know and with whom we spend the most time at work. Also, consider talking to your firm’s pro bono coordinator about partners to approach. If possible, send similar firm-wide emails or other correspondence about the Campaign to partners that you send to associates. And what has been particularly effective at Arent Fox is enlisting the help of a partner or two (especially partners who were involved in the Campaign when they were associates) and asking them to reach out to other partners on behalf of you and the Campaign. Just like associates, once a partner has been introduced to the great impact the Campaign has, they are excited to participate and more likely to continue to participate year after year.
The Campaign’s heart will always be the generous associates of Washington, D.C., but we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the great impact the generosity of the city’s partners also has on the Campaign’s success.
Kavitha J. Babu and Joanna K. Giasafakis are Associates at the law firm of Arent Fox LLP and serves as Co-Chairs of the 2010 Generous Associates Campaign.