Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation - Ginger Mlakar

National Conference of Bar Foundations Mid-Year Meeting
Houston, Texas
February 6, 2015
Joint Workshop Session 5B
11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Presenter: Ginger F. Mlakar, Esq.
Immediate Past President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation
Senior Counsel, & Director of Donor Relations at the Cleveland Foundation
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation –
Lawyers Giving Back
3Rs Program
Mock Trial Competitions
Halloween Run
History of the Fellows Program
 Fellows Program Launched in 1999/2000
 Criteria for Fellows Membership
 Member of the Association
 Advance justice in the community
 Demonstrate a high standard of integrity/professionalism
 Levels of Recognition
 $2,500 – minimum
 $5k – Silver
 $10k – Gold
 Fall of 2012 – Fellows program raised approximately $1 million for
the endowment
Legacy Fellows Program
 Legacy Fellows Launched in 2011
 Recognizes – members who commit to make a future gift
to the foundation (i.e., a planned gift)
 Examples – bequests in wills and trusts; naming in beneficiary
designations such for life insurance policies, etc.
 Strategy – planned giving brochures, ads in bar journal,
letter campaign, and targeted asks
 Founding members – 16
Endowment Campaign Launch
 Pre-Campaign Board Activity
 Solicited advice from past and current key board members and staff
 Presented to the board on endowment history
 Highlighted programs supported by foundation at board meetings
 Looked into a feasibility study and a community focus group
 Fall of 2012— Board committed to a 18 month plan to raise
$1 million and double the endowment to $2 million
 Key Component – Major gifts at $50,000 or higher level
Volunteer Committee Structure
 Fellows Committee – backbone to the efforts
 Long-standing, engaged in the legal community members
 Continued effort for new fellows at pre-existing levels of
$2,500, $5,000 (silver) & $10,000 (gold) levels
 “Best practice” goal – increase no. of individual fellows to 10%
of membership
 Strong small working group for major gifts
 $25k to $100k level (individuals and firms)
Goals during Silent/Quiet Period of the
 Raise 40 to 60% before public announcement
 Create a video with key leaders and featuring the
 Plan for Kick-off Event (May 2013) – public
 Location/invitation – strategic based upon invitee
 Invitees – fellows (including new legacy), past
leaders, legal and community leaders, and board
members, i.e., prospects/ambassadors
 Host committee – GCs and other civic leaders
 Program – welcome, video, kick-off campaign &
thank lead donors
Key Administrative Steps before the Public
Campaign Launch
 Updated Gift Acceptance Policy & Campaign Recognition
 Gift types - cash, securities, life insurance policies, and estate
 Campaign recognition - assets must be transferred or pledge
 Reviewed Investment/Endowment Policy (compliance with
UPMIFA, spending policy, investment oversight, etc.)
 Created various types of pledge forms
 Estate
 Payment terms over time (not to exceed 10 years)
 Outright gifts – discounts offered
Defining New Major Donor Benefits
 $50k to $100k+ (founding fellows)*
 Donor story in bar journal
 Recognition on donor wall
 Honored and recognized at appreciation reception
 Firms allowed 1 representative on host committee for appreciation reception
 $25k (leadership fellows)*
 Recognition on donor wall
 Honored and recognized at appreciation reception
 Added near end of the campaign
* Unique campaign recognition
Allowed combination gifts – combined firms and individuals of law firms
contributions for firm recognition
 Insurance policies transferred – recognition based upon face value of policies
 Estate gifts – recognition based upon death value
Overview Identifying Prospects,
Pitch and Follow-up
 Initial prospects – ambassadors to the organization
Communication method depended on the relationship
 Included in first meeting discussion (and covered in proposal)
Overview of the history of bar/endowment
Explored what the bar meant to them
Explained why asking
Announced who else has committed & matching gift opportunity (1 to 4) – 4
firms at $100k+
 Made the ask (highest amount possible)
 Followed-up with formal, customized proposal and supporting
 Once verbal yes, immediately sent the pledge to be signed
Proposal - Why Give Now?
 For every $1 million (cash collected) in endowment = $50k
of available grant dollars
 Contributions will reduce the foundation’s reliance on
annual fundraising events to sustain current grantmaking
 Contributions will allow for sustainability of the current
and future priority programs into perpetuity
Proposal - Why is it Important to the them?
 Continuation of the strengthens of the bar – being part of:
 Mentorship and volunteer opportunities
 Advocacy for legal profession
 Giving back to the community through strong, impactful
community outreach programs
 Opportunity to give back to the legal community through a
legacy gift
 Recognition benefits
 Existing commitments by peers
Proposal – What are the Board Commitments?
 100% of fellows contributions added to the endowment
 100% of endowment spending will go to programs (and not
fundraising or administrative expenses)
 100% board participation as fellows
Touch Points
 Estimate – avg. of 7 before closing of gift
 Initial meetings – breakfasts, lunches and/or after work drinks
 Presented to firms/small groups
 Follow-ups - formal letters, emails, quick discussions at community
events/board meetings, etc.
Tools to Track Progress
 Weekly cultivation report
 Included ask amount, last contact, next steps, etc.
 Shared with committee and key staff members
 Campaign count spreadsheet
 Included recognition level and financial reporting difference
 Shared with committee and key staff members
Cultivation Event
 Timing – half-way point after public
announcement (Fall of 2013)
 Limited invitees – select ambassadors
 Goal – small and intimate event
 Location – cool and intriguing
 Program
 Donor story
 Community leader, e.g., CEO of
public schools
 Keep it short – no ask
Donor Wall
 Goal – cool design to recognize and thank all donors with
flexibility to change through time
 Cut-off date for inclusion – 45 days before the appreciation
 Final drive – emails with lists of those “in” or “tentative in”
on donor wall to encourage others to participate
 Included drawing/illustration of donor wall
Celebration (Appreciation) Reception
 Timing – May 2014 (1 year from public announcement)
 Invitees – donors, community/bar leaders, etc.
 Location – same as kick-off reception
 Invitation – included host committee; followed kick-off
reception theme
 Program – welcome (host committee member), video,
announced campaign results (goal - $1 million/attained $1.5
million); unveiled “visual” of donor wall, awards/recognition
 Follow-up - story in bar journal
Celebration Reception
Top 6 Keys to Success
Staff buy-in and support
Heavy commitment by
volunteer working group
 Key - strong personal
relationships to bar
4. Current and Past Board
 Opened many doors/made
many introductions
5. Good, continuously updated
communication among staff and
volunteer committee
Strong long-standing
partnership between
association and foundation
Campaign Timeline
• Appreciation Event – Public Announcement of Campaign Results
May 2014
• Endowment Campaign Raises $1.5 million – Donor Wall Cut-off Date
April 2014
• Endowment Campaign Raises $1 million – Commence Donor Wall Push
January 2014
• Cultivation Event
October 2013
• Kick-off Public Reception – Unveil Video & Announce Matching Gift
• Endowment Campaign Raises $450k – 45% of Goal
May 2013
April 2013
• Launch of Silent Phase of Endowment Campaign
December 2012
• Endowment Reaches $1 million
November 2012

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