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What makes us uniquely valuable to our communities rests in the fact that we are truly non-partisan, volunteer based, and believe that better solutions are designed when citizens are educated about the issues. Citizens can then join with government to create those solutions through thoughtful, civil discourse on decisions made in the full and transparent light of day. This unique organization is as important today as it was at our founding in 1920. Communities depend on our contributions to democracy, and we must have relationships within and with our communities to ensure that both the League and our democracy thrive. To that end, this publication has been created to offer a more flexible, streamlined, and sustainable model for operating some Leagues.
Current local, state, and national League structures and bylaws allow Leagues to operate as independent political advocacy organizations within the regulatory structure of American nonprofit corporations – a model that has worked well for over fifty years.
But times have changed, and the League membership and leadership has changed, too. Leagues today may need more focused, flexible, and streamlined alternatives to accommodate changing lifestyles and busy schedules.
An alternative structure may work equally well while demanding less of League leaders. The streamlined model presented here focuses on:
The LWV mission-critical, year-round activities that increase a League’s community involvement, generate visibility, build community awareness of the League’s mission, and attract an expanding membership.
Continuing key components that retain our trusted reputation, nonpartisanship, volunteer engagement, deliberation, consensus-based decision making, and civic improvement.
Leading through smaller and focused teams to address modern time limitations and reduce leadership pressures on just a few people.
ABC’s For a Streamlined League is designed to help Leagues adopt these changes using pre-fabricated tools developed and supported by state and national leaders. At the heart of this approach is a focus on doing important and visible work in our communities. Successful 5
Leagues lay out a calendar of events and activities for the year that create community interest and awareness of the League and its mission. It’s as easy as ABC!
A calendar planning tool is included here that helps local Leagues do just that. Additional resources are included in the Appendices that help Leagues produce events important to our communities and our mission, such as candidate and issue forums, in a streamlined, yet highly visible way.
Experience shows that Leagues do best when they successfully connect with their communities. The Observer Corps “Easy Start Guide” appendix helps Leagues start an Observer Corps and make this connection. Resources for sponsoring “Building a Better Community Forums” are also included. Future tools in this area will include a step-by-step guide for gathering Know Your Community information to assess issues important within our communities and the political players and community “assets” that can have an impact on these issues so that our community outreach has meaning. A “Taking Action Checklist” is included, too.
While we’re building connections with our community, we also need to build our League. Tools to strengthen Leagues through Fundraising, Membership Development, and Visibility are provided here.
Of course, some degree of organization management is necessary. Resources in the League Management section, including simplified Agendas, Minutes, and Board Orientation, will help you organize your League easily. Finally, because evaluating the success of League activities is so important, a streamlined Assessment tool is currently under development.