Below is the Guidance to the Board as submitted at Convention 2012. The feedback categories are: Advocacy, Communications / Public Relations, Convention, Education Fund, Elections, Fundraising and Development, Governance, Nominating Committee, Membership, Program Planning and Technology.

Advocacy  

Responder: Toni Larson

If the national league continues to target members of congress with advocacy ads, we cannot be ONE league. It is divisive. Target the issue and the geography, not individual members. PLEASE.

ABSOLUTELY NO ads should be run that could be perceived by either side as attack ads

One weakness on advocacy on Clean Air in MA which had a massive impact on our ability to do debates is that the LL were not contacted in time to raise a red flag. 

Response:  We appreciate the perspective of some League members on ads calling on named members of Congress to address issues in view of League positions.  We believe it is a vital part of League advocacy efforts to let members of Congress know how we stand on issues and request those members to support our positions.  The League is moving toward becoming even more visible and active on specific issues and letting Congress people know in a more public way is part of the visibility.  However, the LWVUS Board recognizes the need to involve more fully the state and local Leagues affected by national action, and following the Massachusetts and Missouri ad campaign, the Board adopted such a policy.

Thank you to the Board for reaffirming our positions. We are still looking for “DC Full government and Full Voting”.

Response:   Achieving “full government and full voting” for Washington, DC remains an issue of upmost important to the League. DC self-government and full voting representation has been discussed as long as I remember, and we continue to look for opportunities to move the issue forward.  It would be very good if you were to keep us updated on what is happening around this issue and help us look for points when we can work further on advancing the cause. If you have not already done so, you might take a look at Impact on Issues 2010-2012, pages 13 – 15 for a history of League work on the issue. 

In addition to the adocacy media campaigns, that the Board consider an equally high-impact capmpaing highlighting the accomplishments and what we are planning to do this year, with the idea that we encourage more membership. I liked the Lady Gaga video because it is a perfect example.

Response:  The LWVUS is working very hard to elevate the visibility of the League in general.  The website is being revamped.  There is more emphasis on social media.  We are now on facebook and twitter and also are blogging.  There is a special committee being developed for young professionals.  And, of course more directly related to “making democracy work” is the VOTE411 project.  The LWVUS board agrees that the League needs to be more visible and that our good work is broadcast more frequently and in many forums.  We will continue to make advances in this area. 

We need to be mindful of our Universal Declaration of Human Rights and encourage all Leagues to do something to create awareness. There is trafficking in prostitution in our communities. Also Texas ahs a radioactive waste dump site now.

Response:   Once the Texas League has completed its study on human trafficking, members in your state can then take action on this issue, and other states could be made aware of the Texas position. It is also possible that at Convention 2014, the Texas League could propose that the LWVUS adopt by concurrence the Texas position.

I just learned of our lobbyist, Dr. Paul something. I have been in the League since the ‘90’s and this is the first time I hear of him. We need to know that we have someone advocating for us on the federal level.

Response:    We do have a lobbying corps comprised of members from the Washington, DC area Leagues.  These hard working people are volunteers, and they are designated particular state delegations with which to work. Depending upon the workload, these people do attempt to contact a person in each affected state. I have been told the staff will look into putting the names of the lobbying corps and the states with which they work on the website. There are also staff people involved in lobbying with Lloyd Leonard heading up the efforts at this level. 

My local League members are ALL very concerned about the imposition of martial law through the use of detention without cause.  I don't much like the PATRIOT act, but I am alarmed at this development.  Can the national League take action?

Response:   Yes, the national League can and has taken action in this area. A history of actions the League has taken over the years on the issue of individual liberties can be found in Impact on Issues 2010-2012 on page 23.  T It has been a concern of League for many years. 

I  would like to see a state League take on a study of human Trafficking.

Response:    Our suggestion is to continue to bring the issue before the members.  It is necessary to study human trafficking before taking action on this issue.  The Texas League is currently conducting a study of human trafficking. One path you might take once that study is completed and working with Texas and other Leagues, is to bring the position statement to Convention 2014 for concurrence. 

Communications/Public Relations   

Responder: Susan Wilson

Perhaps LWVUS has done it's due diligence of myriad of issues, like looking at alternative earned revenue sources, rather than raising PMP, but it certainly has not done a sufficient job in communicating this to the membership. I voted against the increase because I didn't feel like I had been given sufficient information about what work you had done.

Response:The LWVUS Board and the Budget Committee have spent two years reviewing alternative earned revenue sources rather than raising PMP. One thing we discovered is that some alternatives have tax implications for us.
Sometimes it is hard to communicate all that we do, but you might find some information in the posted minutes of the Board meetings as well as the report we make at the Convention biannually.

North County San Diego delegation would like the Board to discuss at their strategic planning meeting the disappointing article that appeared in  USA Today on June 7th that discussed all thewomens' groups that are working on new issues and increasing their membership; LWV was not mentioned.

Response:  Our communications team does monitor that type of article and respond when they feel it is appropriate. We work diligently to place the LWV in articles that reflect positively on us.

Someone just pointed out that Leaders' Update isn't just for leaders.  Why not change the name?  Thanks for all you do!

Response:  We’ll consider changing the name of the Leaders Update. It is a great communication tool for members.

Take Mr. Zogby's advice and change the mission statement word from encourage to engage. 2. ABSOLUTELY NO ads should be run that could be perceived by either side as attack ads.

Response:    As your know, it is always a challenge to change a mission statement, but Mr. Zogby’s comment really pushed us to focus on what we do. We appreciate all comments on the ads placed by the LWV on television during the past year. It was our first effort to place ads that focused on issues that are important to us and we learned a lot about what we want to do and what we don’t want to do in the future.

1) Next time please make a survey that would accommodate more than one topic per survey rather than require us to fill out multiple.   2) Many people, including myself, are upset that we don't feel that the national league has done enough to ask local leagues what their needs are. We keep hearing about things that national is doing on behalf of local leagues. But have you asked us formally what we need and want? You say that boards wanted predictability in PMP increases. Our board was never asked that question, so how do you know that that is what we want? My direction to the board is that you conduct more surveys, focus groups, interviews with local leagues, WITHOUT having to be filtered or passed down by the state leagues.

Response:   Currently we operate at national, state and local levels through more than 800 state and local Leagues, in all 50 states as well in DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. It is a challenge. The Board seeks input from Leagues in a variety of ways. We receive input from individual members, from local Leagues, from state Leagues, from staff, from the public, and from each other. One thing that we are sure of is that everyone has an opinion about how things should and need to be done, and we try to accommodate that as well as we can. That said, we understand your need to be heard as a local League and will see how we can do it better in the future.

Please divide communications to League Leaders into two categories:   One category for information only.  Second category those that contain request for action or is otherwise crucial  We receive many e-mails and it would be better if crucial information was flagged.

Response: Your idea is an interesting one. There is a lot of email sent from the office and we want to use email as an effective tool for the office and for our members.

Know your audience: when speaking about voter service and there are California members present, do NOT say just Vote411 -- include Smart Voter. When you only speak about Vote 411, you immediately lose --and anger --everyone from California. You do not need more alienated and angry local Leagues

Response:   California has a great voter service tool in Smart Voter and we know that other state and local Leagues are also using Smart Voter. We appreciate all the hard work California has done to develop and support Smart Voter. The LWVUS has promoted Vote 411 to state and local Leagues in the past year and sometimes staff and board members fail to mention Smart Voter as an alternative.

I am not sure if you do this already or not, but I think that you should send monthly news to every member who has an email address without signing up for it.  People are lazy, but they are still interested in what is happening.   Additionally all the leaders should automatically get the Leader's Updates.  Just assume members want to get news, easily. 

Response: At LWVUS we do try to reach out to all members on a regular basis. As it happens, we do not have email addresses for many members and cannot reach them through that method. We also know that many of the emails we send to members for whom we have email addresses are not opened and thus presumably not read. There is also the issue of individuals not wanting to receive email from LWVUS. We will continue to consider all the options to reach our membership with regular updates about our activities, and email will continue to one of them.

Please figure out better ways to communicate directly from LWVUS to the LLs -- don't leave that to the state Leagues.

Response: Currently we operate at national, state and local levels through more than 800 state and local Leagues, in all 50 states as well in DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. It is a challenge. The Board seeks input from Leagues in a variety of ways. We receive input from individual members, from local Leagues, from state Leagues, from staff, from the public, and from each other. One thing that we are sure of is that everyone has an opinion about how things should and need to be done, and we try to accommodate that as well as we can. That said, we understand the need to be heard as a local League and we will see how we can do it better in the future.

Thank you for your work on the national league. Please consider reaching out personally to the president of Starbucks, and also to the other companies that signed the letter not to make political contributions until the partisan gridlock is ended, to ask them to join the LWV and support our efforts financially.

Response: Your suggestion will be passed on to our Development Committee and to see what we can do to reach out to Starbucks and other organizations who signed the letter not to make political contirbutions until the partisan gridlock is ended. We appreciate fundraising ideas that work closely with our mission and this one certainly does.

Power the Voter - You have given us direction on getting out the Vote by holding voter registration events and voter education opportunites.  What we need and I have been looking for is items to help us look good and professional when we do this public events that increase our visibility and provide a great service to citizens.  With voter registration projects we things like table cloths and maybe even items that make our tables more appealing like a game on CIVICS 101 that would attrack people to the table.  I did not see anything at the wares market that would help us with looking good to the public.  The tableclothes where nice, but were $120.00 which seems very expensive.  If we are going to be in the public we need ""stuff"" to help us look good.  Thanks for all you do.

Response:  Your point is a good one. As each local League increases their visibility, they will need more “stuff” to look good. Many local Leagues have products for sale. One of the issues is finding out who has what and how to get it. We are hoping that our new website will have a “wares market” that will allow local Leagues to post their “stuff” and provide those items that all of you need. In the past the LWVUS has developed products for sale; some have been successful and some have not. Shipping and handling are a major cost issue in some cases as well. Our current plan is to support local Leagues in the effort to have good “stuff”.

The Cincinati LWV has created additional resources based on Electing the President:  A Guide to the Election Process.  If Leagues sign up on lwvca.org/signup they will be notified of the availability to download a PowerPoint presentation to schools and civic organizations plus an illustrated poster. If the LWVUS can advertise this with their current link to the booklet, it would make it easy for local leagues to disseminate this.  Schools in our area are excited for this free information on the Presidential Election for their teachers

Response:  This sounds like a wonderful item for use in the schools and with civic organizations. We will let staff know that this item is available for dissemination to other Leagues and encourage them to advertise it’s availability as possible.You should also promote it on the various LWVUS discussion lists.

I would like to see the League partner with AAUW, American Association of University Women.

Response: Many League members are also members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). We have several opportunities to partner with AAUW at the local, state and national levels. We want to encourage you to work with them at the local level as that is perhaps the most signficant interaction that we can have. As women we need to work together and the LWVUS considers AAUW a partner.

Council/Convention     

Responder: Mary Klenz

Convention and Council are too long which makes them very expensive and unaffordable to may delegates. We urge the LWVUS to find a way to increase participation, perhaps using technology making Convention and Council really representative.   Thank you.

These are issues that the LWVUS Convention/Council Committee and board consider when planning.  We strive to balance the wishes of the delegates with the need to conduct League business while keeping costs in line.  We are cognizant of the fact that costs in Washington are high compared to other areas of the country.  For that reason conventions are held outside of Washington DC during nonpresidental election years.  And we have changed Council format and facilities.   These changes have resulted in a more compact and lower cost Council.  We continue to work on greater use of technology, more streamlined agendas and negotiating the best costs available for both events while meeting the expectactions of the members.

Hearing Devices were helpful but they were not available the first couple of days. They worked so well that you could hear the plenary proceedings even when you were on the registration floor. It would have been good for the volunteers to have had these then they could have heard the proceedings.

Response:  This is good to know and something we will continue to work on.

I think we should have some live streaming at the 2014 Convention.

Response: The LWVUS board and staff continue to work on more and better use of technology to provide a richer Convention experience for our members.  Live streaming is very desirable and something to be considered.

We should have a bin at Convention where you can donate your unused toiletries, shampoos, etc. to be given to a local shelter. We should also have a table to donate food to local food banks. It is a nice way to give back to the community.

Response: The Convention/Council Committee will certainly take this under consideration.  It is also something for the local host committee to consider.  It is a great way to give back to the community, as you mention. 

We should have CSPAN covering this for our next Convention.

Response:   Your suggestion will be passed to the Convention/Council Committee. The Board and Staff continue to work on improving the experience for our members and this makes for a richer experience. 

In order to get more young people here we should add an educational component for young people in conjunction with the Conventions. This is something State Conventions can do too. When there is a children’s program that is educational, then entire families can come and bring their kids and the kids are learning about voting and civics. Many young women want to be involved but they have family responsibilities at home.

Response:  The Convention/Council Committee, Board and Staff continue to work on improving the convention experience for our members.  Bringing more family members into the fold is a greatsuggestion and something we will certainly discuss.  It may be a possibility for the local host committee to consider also. 

The Girl Scouts could help us with Day Care and that would also help us with future members of LWV. It would be a good coalition.

Response:  The Convention/Council Committee is always looking for ways to partner with other organizations and working with the Girl Scouts seems like a natural.  This may be something for the local host committee to consider. 

Revise order of business for future conventions so that the vote on PMP and the budget does not take place on the last day when some delegates leave to head home.  Bylaws: cost of attending convention/council is prohibitive for many Leagues. Allow for proxy voting and/or live streaming-online voting to enable more participation.

Response:  The Convention/Council Committee, Board and Staff are all senstive to the costs of national meetings and something we strive to control.  We also have to balance the wishes of our members to be in Washington DC during Presidential elections years.  For this reason, we have held conventions outside the Washington DC area on alternating years, negotiate the best prices available to us, streamline the agenda, etc.  Some of the Convention agenda is driven by the bylaws that require a specific sequence of business.  The Committee will review your suggestions along with others and take them under consideration for future meetings. 

Please consider adding Convention registered members to the Convention list serv so that they are better informed to about convention process. Thanks to the staff for all their work.  I know who you are and how hard you work.    Cheers.

Response:  Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.  Board and Staff understand the need to inform members of processes, procedures and program prior to the convention.  We all think it makes for a more learned and richer experience.  Along that line, we do offer webinars for first-time convention attendees.  Additonal outreach to delegates is always a plus. 

Given past comments from some member that they already receive too many emails, we may want to offer an option for registrants to check if they would like to be added to the list.  

Convention  I would hope that the National could find a way to make Convention more inclusive.  I know that there are many many Local Leagues that were unable to attend because the cost and or time commitment are prohibitative.  Just lowering the threshold to 50 members to add more delegates will not bring more delegates to Convention.  The cost of travel, lodging and food is a negative factor for many Local League members which results in a less diverse delegate body voting on the direction the League will be going..  I know for a fact that there were many leagues who could not afford to send delegates to convention but were opposed the the PMP increase and yet had no vote.  Please think outside the box to make our decision making inclusive of all league members.

We strive to keep costs manageable while still providing a rich experience for our members, one that they have come to value and expect.  Being more inclusive is a goal we all strive for.   

The Board and Staff are cognizant of the need to keep costs as low as possible while balancing the wishes of members to be in Washington DC during Presidential election years.  With that in mind we do hold conventions outside of DC in off years and have made changes to the council format and facility to better control costs.  This is an issue we will continue to work on.    

Being inclusive is something we all value and strive for and given great consideration when putting the panels and speakers together.  We also urge members who cannot attend to make their views known to their local and state delegations so their views are heard.  Suggestions are always appreciated.  As part of the MLD training Leagues are encouraged to begin planning their budgets and fundraising efforts to cover the costs of more delegates.  We have found that longtime members are sometimes willing to pitch in to help fund the expenses of new and upcoming leaders. 

Also, to bring us together as a national group more and help some of our cities, I suggest we have a voter registration or voter education program in our host city one morning or afternoon of the convention. Thank you. 

This is a good idea and something the local host committee might be able to organize.  For this very reason, the League has chosen to hold convention in areas outside of Washington DC in years of nonpresidential elections.  That enables us to better connect with communities across  the country.  As you suggest,  voter service projects and programs are at the core of the LWV mission and a great way to increase the League’s presence.

Please provide a delegate list at the end of Day one and a update each day after.  

Response: This was done in the past and it is something to consider for Convention 2014. 

At the next convention, please consider having a workshop lead by members under the age of 45, on how to engage and retain younger members. 

Response:  The Board and Staff are aware of the need to more fully engage younger members.  Along this line, President Elisabeth MacNamara is forming a task force of younger members to explore the issues you raise and develop ways to both increase and retain members across a broader range of ages.  You may have read about this on the recent Leader’s Update.   Stay tuned as we will be hearing more on this over the next 12 months. 

Now that we have the wonderful screens on which to see the goings-on at the podium, we fuss less about where we sit.  I LIKE the practice of having an assigned space for a delegation and of always coming together in the same seating area.

Response: This seems to work well from many views.  Thanks for taking your time to give us feedback. 

Please ask for a significant discount from the hotel. The promised free wifi in the lobby was not available for two full days of the convention. This caused significant frustration on the part of many members. 

Response:  We are aware of the situation and also working to guarantee more internet access.  It is something the Board and Staff continue to call for and are a part of negotiations with the hotel. 

Workbook and Program for 2014 Convention: Arrange it by day, rather than plenary sessions/workshops/caucuses It is extremely frustrating - especially for first-time attendees such as myself - to have to go back and forth through the program to find the activities for the day.   May I say again - EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING!

Response:  The Committee and Staff are continuing to work on the most effective and efficient way to present the information in the Workbook.  In this light, the delegate briefings, the webinars for first time delegates and having the workbook online in advance are some help in mitigating the confusion.   In the meantime, we will continue to work to improve the document.

Could we please have a Convention participant’s list?

Response: I believe this was done in the past and certainly is a valuable resource for delegates.  I will pass your suggestion onto the Convention Committee to work on for Convention 2014.

I think the board did a good job with the caucuses, but I think time could have been used much more efficiently in the plenary sessions. I spoke with many other members who felt like the plenary sessions were largely a waste of time, were mostly outdated procedures, and irrelevant. 

Response:   Plenary sessions are always a challenge in that the need to conduct League business is an important part of the meeting.  On the other hand, the caucuses, speakers, workshops and networking opportunities are extremely valuable.  The Committee continues to review procedures and practices to make them more effective and efficient and still conduct the needed business.

Another comment on working women: there was considerable discussion before convention about day care/child care availability.  I think for an historically women's organization, in the context of desiring more young members, we should make the arrangements necessary to provide day care during the convention.

Response: Others have made similar suggestions and even suggested that we partner with the Girl Scouts on this.  The Convention/Committee will be discussing yours and other guidance to the board.  On the topic of more younger members, you may be aware that President Elisabeth MacNamara is forming a task force to develop ways to engage more members across a wider range of ages. 

Education Fund

Responder: Janis McMillen

The Leagues of Colorado asks that the National Board look into the opportunity to conduct, sponsor or host presidental candidate debates. Thank you.

Response:  LWVUS would be very pleased to once again sponsor the Presidential Debates.  It seems unlikely that will happen again – at least in the near future.  After the 1984 debates, the campaigns made increasing demands on controlling format, which candidates could or could not participate, etc and it became apparent that there was greater interest on the part of the political parties to have complete control.   In 1986, the Commission on Presidential Debates was formed and has since been responsible for hosting these debates.  Maybe things will change in the future, and if so, the League would be ready to step in again.

I am disappointed that LWVUS staff decided to join the National Voter Registration Day coalition even though they realized that it was Yom Kiuppur.   I call on the Board of LWVUS to reconside this membership and find a more appropriate date.

Response:  We joined a national coalition that had already set the date for this.  The impact of being part of a nation-wide effort is likely to be very productive, and probably more than if we chose another time.  While we recognize that a Jewish holy day begins at sundown on September 25, we also recognize that most voter registration activities take place during the earlier part of the day.   For those who wish to participate in voter registration and still observe the Holy Day, that opportunity is there.

We are a very large land-mass state and a small population as well as have a low income median. Would the League consider subsidies for us to participate in VOTE411?

Response:  I understand your concern about the cost associated with participating in VOTE411 in those states with few Leagues, each of which covers a lot of territory/candidates.  We have made every effort to keep the price consistent with capacity, so that small states, states with few Leagues and individual local Leagues pay a significantly reduced rate compared with larger state and local Leagues.  So essentially, the current price for states like Montana reflects a subsidy from LWVEF.  Talked with Jeanette Senecal or others on her staff to discuss price and the various options available.  They also offer some really good suggestions on how to fundraise around VOTE411, which would then help your portion of the cost.   The staff is always open to considering ways to accommodate and help Leagues. 

Elections

Responder: Janis McMillen

Iowa will need Tim’s help.  Next year could very well be the year.

Response:  We hope that the grant funding that supports the PAVP program continues so Tim and others can continue their excellent work with local Leagues.

I would like to urge the Board to rethink our partnership with SmackDown the Vote which is partially sponsored by World Wrestling entertainment based in Connecticut. The former owner of WWE and the wife of the current owner is now running for the United States Senate and it is very awkward for us to be partnered with an organization where the owner’s wife is running for the United States Senate. Also WWE is a portrayal of violent acts against women in the ring, it

Would be better to partner with Rock the Vote to reach young women as members.

Response:  As was recently discussed online, LWVUS has not worked with WWE for several years, though we haven’t officially terminated any arrangement with them.  We do work with Rock the Vote on a regular basis, and have collaborated with them on our high school efforts, and as co-plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit in Florida.  However, they don’t have local “chapters” so they are not as likely to bring us new members through our collaborative efforts as are other opportunities.    We have found working with student groups in high schools to be a very good way to partner and engage younger people.  Finally, the Board is currently in the process of forming a Young Professionals group to affiliate with us and help increase the number of younger members.

Fundraising / Development

Responder: Toni Larson

Commit to at least monthly fundraising webinars, powerpoint presentations, articles, tips, and discussions with local and state leagues. We need to change the culture within the League regarding fundraising.

Response:  The LWVUS agrees with you that every effort needs to be taken to increase fundraising.  Many activities have been implemented over the last few years.  For quite some time, all members of the national Board have been asked to make a contribution, as it is so important to tell funders that the entire Board believes enough in the organization to have supported it financially.  All members of the national board sit on the Development Committee, emphasizing the importance of this activity.  There is an aggressive fund raising goal set by the board as well.  We are also looking for grant and matching grant opportunities.  Many direct mailings go to members and non-members alike, with a better than usual return rate. An additional staff person has been hired to staff a “field” office in Colorado in order to provide more coverage of the western states.  And, on a more mundane level, the donor tracking system and integration with state and local fund raising efforts is being streamlined. In addition in early October, the League will launch its first webinar on the topic.   In general then, we are working to improve our fund raising efforts on many dimensions.

Please consider reducing your fundraising costs TO MEMBERS by limiting the number of paper/snailmail sendings. I would support totally eliminating paper mailings to members who have email addresses, and instead, spamming us. Consider allowing members to opt out of the paper mailings entirely.  The savings would permit you to send these paper solicitations to more non-members and organizations.

Response:  The LWVUS agrees that every effort needs to be taken to increase fund raising.  Many activities have been implemented over the last few years.  For quite some time, all members of the national Board have been asked to make a contribution, as it is so important to tell funders that the entire Board believes enough in the organization to have supported it financially.  All members of the national board sit on the Development Committee, emphasizing the importance of this activity.  There is an aggressive fund raising goal set by the board as well.  We are also looking for grant and matching grant opportunities.  Many direct mailings go to members and non-members alike, with a better than usual return rate. An additional staff person has been hired to staff a “field” office in Colorado in order to provide more coverage of the western states.  And, on a more mundane level, the donor tracking system and integration with state and local fund raising efforts is being streamlined. In addition in early October, the League will launch its first webinar on the topic.   In general then, we are working to improve our fund raising efforts on many dimensions.

Look for opportunities (like Citizens United decision or Florida decision) to enable League members who are connected to social media to encourage their friends to donate to advocacy in support of voter rights, campaign finance. While many of these folks will never be likely League Members, you can build on the League's reputation (and enhance it) by accepting donations for advocacy on these issues through direct online mechanisms, including newly approved proposals for donations by texting.

Response:  The LWVUS agrees with you that every effort needs to be taken to increase fund raising.  Many activities have been implemented over the last few years.  For quite some time, all members of the national Board have been asked to make a contribution, as it is so important to tell funders that the entire Board believes enough in the organization to have supported it financially.  All members of the national board sit on the Development Committee, emphasizing the importance of this activity.  There is an aggressive fund raising goal set by the board as well.  We are also looking for grant and matching grant opportunities.  Many direct mailings go to members and non-members alike, with a better than usual return rate. An additional staff person has been hired to staff a “field” office in Colorado in order to provide more coverage of the western states.  And, on a more mundane level, the donor tracking system and integration with state and local fund raising efforts is being streamlined. In addition in early October, the League will launch its first webinar on the topic.  In general then, we are working to improve our fund raising efforts on many dimensions.

Hi Guys,  As a Shur Fellow and having sat through the membership/development programs sponsored by LWVUS, I think we need to offer a "Fundraising for Small/Rural Leagues" program at Convention and perhaps in a small, online guide.   This is for the Leagues that have small ($500-$1,000) budgets who complain that they are using all their budget for PMP and their members are unable to increase dues.  Their budgets are so small, they could double them easily with a local fundraiser, raffle, etc., but are unlikely to be able to access higher sources like foundations etc.  We could offer case studies of small Leagues who have successfully raised small pots of money and step-by-step guidance on how to....." Of course this would also raise visibility and perhaps membership levels.

Response: The LWVUS agrees with you that every effort needs to be taken to increase fund raising.  Many activities have been implemented over the last few years.  For quite some time, all members of the national Board have been asked to make a contribution, as it is so important to tell funders that the entire Board believes enough in the organization to have supported it financially.  All members of the national board sit on the Development Committee, emphasizing the importance of this activity.  There is an aggressive fund raising goal set by the board as well.  We are also looking for grant and matching grant opportunities.  Many direct mailings go to members and non-members alike, with a better than usual return rate. An additional staff person has been hired to staff a “field” office in Colorado in order to provide more coverage of the western states.  And, on a more mundane level, the donor tracking system and integration with state and local fund raising efforts is being streamlined. In addition in early October, the League will launch its first webinar on the topic.  In general then, we are working to improve our fund raising efforts on many dimensions.

Governance

Responder: Janis McMillen

Prior to the next convention, please clarify the procedure for “Calling the Question”.  Roberts Rules of Order really allows a speaker who has just taken a postion pro or con on the motion, to call the question, then I direct the LWVUS to propose an amendment to the body to not allow that.   A member who has just spoken pro or con on a motion should not be allowed to immediately Call the Question.

Response: According to our Parliamentarian: 

The answer is “Yes”.  "A member may both speak in debate and conclude by offering a secondary motion, which is a particular application of the principle that a member having been recognized for any legitimate purpose has the floor for all legitimate purposes."    RONR, 11th edition, p. 386, ll. 25-29.

Some organizations adopt a local rule to prevent a member from exercising the right to speak in debate while at the same time moving to cut off the rights of other members to speak.  LWVUS Convention Rules did not have such a proscription.

Please look into ways to use electronic means to increase participation of local and state leagues in votes on matters of direct importance to them, such as PMP. Meeting in person at Convention is very valuable, but many small leagues cannot afford to attend.

Response:    Our current bylaws prescribe who may vote and specifically prohibit absentee and proxy voting.  If you wish to have this suggestion considered further,  prior to Convention 2014 when there is a call to the membership for bylaws proposals, you could submit a bylaws change for consideration.

We ask the Board to post processes as Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) so that members have an overview of a process before contacting LWV staff or board members with specific questions. It will save everyone time and frustration.    Streamlining communication (like being able to send this guidance from my iPhone) is the present and the future.

Response:  We do have guidelines (not formal SOPs) for some of our processes and we are currently drafting guidelines for conducting a national study, which will be available before we undertake the update to our Agriculture position.  There is a Board Policy handbook that guides the Board’s work, along with other policies and procedures at this link:  http://www.lwv.org/member-resources/policies-bylaws-and-guidelines.  Something that may also be useful for you is knowing which staff persons to contact for specific questions; here is a link (http://www.lwv.org/content/league-women-voters-staff)  to the staff listing organized by their area of responsibility. 

Membership / Leadership

Responder: Peggy Appler

I advise the Board to invest in a national campaign to engage young female voters, including young minority females.

Response:  The national League is currently establishing a Young Professionals Task Force to lead the effort to recruit, engage and attract more young professional women, including minority women and men to join the League.  The task force will be consist of five (5) League members in good standing who are 45 or under selected through an application process, two National board members and two Ruth S. Shur Fellows. Task Force members will be announced in the October 11, 2012 Leader’s Update.

The League has been undertaking many activities to engage young female voters, particularly minority voters. Chief among these have been targeted voter registration efforts at high schools and community colleges in traditionally under represented communities, including LWVEF pass-through grants to local Leagues for registration events.
The national League also is active with partner groups such as Rock the Vote, Project Vote and others with specific focus on youth voting.

Concern about National revising the membership database. It may require us to do more data entry into the National database than we are doing now. We need to be doing voter registration, voter issues, and advocacy at a local level. The more we have to do to maintain the database, the less time we will have for these activities.

Response:  The LWVUS will be revising the membership database with a keen eye on making it more easy to use by League leaders and members. We also aim to provide more functionality for local and state Leagues so that it meets more needs that you have. Some Leagues will chose to use that functionality to manage their League business, and we appreciate that others will not. Our goal is to have a database that makes your jobs easier not more difficult. To ensure that we take into account all these needs, the transition to the new database will be a process. Local Leagues likely will not see any change in our systems until 2014.

To increase membership of younger adults, we encourage college student discount rates for those that are taking more than six credit hours.

Response:  I want to be sure that you are aware that at LWVUS, there is a student rate for PMP. It is one-half the rate of an “individual” PMP. This is written in our bylaws, and many state Leagues offer the same type of discount on state PMP.

One way of offsetting the PMP and further increases as well as assisting in recruiting a diversity of people for the League in the future, is that we incorporate some fundraising drives directed strictly at encouraging new members and providing scholarship or other assistance for low-income people who can’t afford the increase or even full amount of dues.

Response:  The LWVUS encourages all Leagues to undertake fundraising activities in order to strengthen your sustainability as an organization and to extend the reach and impact of your work in many ways, whether it be providing scholarships or promoting your activities. The national board has established a new committee, Sustaining Local Leagues, which will have this at the core of its mission. In addition, there will be a series of webinars on fundraising held this year.

The MLD program works. Indiana increased our membership by 7%. In the next year we will have all 50 Leagues involved. Increasing membership may stabilize the Per Member Payment, maybe even reduce it

Response: Thank you, Gail, for these kind words. And, congratulations on your League’s success! Your contributions to the program – and that of other state coaches from across the country – have made the program the success that it is! We are looking forward to adding the final 9 states to the program in the coming year to meet our goal of having all 50 states in the MLD program by 2013.

Please establish and promote a system in which local Leagues can report to LWVUS where a member is moving to when he/she moves out of the area. Then National relays the info to the appropriate state League, who can pass the info on for the local League to welcome the new resident into their “new” League.

Response:  While we don’t have a formal system for this, we do facilitate this process at LWVUS. League leaders may notify LWVUS (by contacting membership@lwv.org) about the change of address, and LWVUS will contact the League in the individual’s new area to let them know about the change. In addition, contact information for every local League is available on the LWVUS website, if Leagues want to communicate directly with each other. Thank you for raising this issue. As we review and assess the needs of our new member database, we will add this feature to our possible “wish list.”

Our discussions on the PMP reveal the need for a mechanism to address the concerns of financially stressed local Leagues, especially that small Mechanism in rural areas. I propose the development of a program analogous to MLD to assist Leagues in attaining and sustaining financial stability. For example, we would appreciate some incentives for these small Leagues to recruit members and funding sources, such as the forgiveness of a portion of the PMP. We in Mobile will be happy to brainstorm or assist in any way.

Response:  The LWVUS board has a new Sustaining Local Leagues committee that will be examining the various ways that we can strengthen local Leagues, particularly by increasing financial stability, to complement the MLD. The scope of this committee is to Identify and implement structures/mechanisms to promote the financial sustainability of local Leagues.

There are few working women here who are earning less than $20,000 a year. They are underrepresented in the League. Part of the reason is because we have dues. Remind local Leagues that dues are not or do not need to be related to PMP. Maybe we should have a graduated dues structure based on one’s ability to pay. We also need to find a way to get members to the National Convention from areas that have lower incomes and Leagues that have a shortage of cash for this kind of thing.

Response:  The LWVUS advises all Leagues to undertake fundraising activities and is increasing training opportunities on this topic this year. One of the easiest ways to raise funds is by having a graduated dues structure that encourages those that can afford it to renew at higher amounts than the basic dues rates.

I have heard a lot about needing younger members and want to point out that we don’t have many men that are members.

Response:  This is an excellent point. The national League is currently establishing a Young Professionals Task Force to lead the effort to recruit, engage and attract more young professional women, including minority women and men to join the League.  The task force will be consist of five (5) League members in good standing who are 45 or under selected through an application process, two National board members and two Ruth S. Shur Fellows. Applications are being accepted until September 30, 2012. Task Force members will be announced in the October 11, 2012 Leader’s Update.

While our demographics as an organization are changing (as is seen in more male leaders such as LWUS Board member Norman Turill), the majority of our members are women. Through the MLD program, we are encouraging Leagues to welcome all potential new members by employing a series of suggested best practices. We also encourage Leagues to focus their recruitment efforts on a target audience that works for them. Some Leagues have put the emphasis on more male members by partnering with traditionally “male organizations,” such as the Lions, and/or doing outreach that promotes that the organizations is open to everyone (such as producing buttons or literature that reminds individuals the “League of Women Voters—not for Women only”).

When national sends membership promotions to the general public, it confuses us. If they become a member at the national level, we lose their membership as well as them as a local participating member. Please refer them to our local League so we can count them as a local League member.

Response: The national League does not send membership promotions to the general public. The LWVUS direct marketing programs do reach out to more than 2 million individuals annually to promote becoming a League supporter with a  contribution to fund League work nationally. The LWVUS website at www.lwv.org, also contains a tool whereby a website visitor can type in their zip code to locate their local and/or state League. In addition, if an individual indicates that they are interested in volunteering with a League, an automatic message is sent to the League where they live with the individual’s contact information, etc.

Nominating Committee

Responder: Janis McMillen

I am new member of LWV and a director on the LWV FL Board and attended the annual conference in Washington DC. While I know that we have a strong board and know that the new board will be equally  effective, after hearing about the declining membership and the desire to push for membership growth,  I would suggest that we as a league look at the board selections carefully in the future to insure that it reflects the membership as it exists, the communities we serve, and the membership we envision in the future. In short, diversity is needed, culturally, in gender and in age. Thank you. 

Response:  The LWVUS Board agrees that we need to increase membership diversity in gender, age, cultural, racial, etc.  One step toward addressing the issue of increasing younger members in the organization, and ultimately members of the LWVUS Board, is a new Task Force of young professionals that is just now being formed to work with the Board and Staff on this important issue.   The Nominating Committee for the national Board involves a very strong and deliberate outreach to members – asking them to nominate someone – or themselves - as candidates.  It is from this pool of potential candidates that the final Board members are selected. 

We provide candidates for all kinds of offices with questions to answer and use those answers to produce candidate guides.  Yet it seems we don't do something similar with our own candidates for the LVWUS board.  This seems inconsistent.  We would love to see a standard set of questions answered by the candidates for the board.  This would help us get to know them better, including their vision for the League, what they see as the major barriers to success, interests, professional connections etc.  Thank you!

ResponseNominees do answer such questions as you suggest, but I am not aware that anyone other than the Nominating Committee sees these responses.   In the Convention Workbook, there is a statement from each of us, which is pretty broad and doesn’t offer a lot of detail.  The League process is such that the Nominating Committee chooses from among members who apply (or are nominated by other League members).  The Nominating Committee also does a lot of outreach to encourage applications, and with our focus on a Young Professionals Task Force in the coming two years, hopefully this will help us reach and encourage younger members to consider Board service – at all levels of the League.  The bylaws provide for the Nominating Committee to submit a “slate” of candidates from among the applicants, and their selection is based, in part, on answers to a variety of questions provided by the applicants.  We also encourage floor nominations and this happened twice in recent years.  When we had floor nominees, those candidates did speak to the entire delegate body. 

Pres. MacNamara should consider appointing members under the age of 40 to the LWVUS board in order to attract younger members to our organization and change the "face" of the League. 

Response: You may have learned at Convention that we are in the process of forming a “young professionals” Task Force to work with us on increasing age diversity among our members, and ultimately among our leadership – at all levels of League.    While the bylaws do provide for the President to appoint two members to the Board, we believe the first step is to work with the new task force and then look for a variety of ways to bring age diversity to the Board. 

Program Planning

Responder: Norman Turrill

Studies should continue to solicit local Leagues investigation of the study topic at the local and state level.  For example, local Leagues were not asked to gather information about its local government's experience with privitization.  We in Chicago are experiencing rapid rises in parking costs that will continue for another 70+ years and the money received under this contract has, in large part, been dissipated in plugging budget holes during the first three years of the contract.  We would have liked to learn about the experiences of other communities.  The study and concensus experience of the last two years was not consistent with the best practices of LWV.

Response:  We agree that local and state Leagues should be more involved in national studies, and traditionally they have been asked to form local study committees. We have at least opened discussion lists (listservs) for the Privatization and other studies to aid in an exchange of ideas for study participants. Remarkably, the LWVUS has no guideline for conducting our national studies, so the new Board has committed itself to writing such a guideline and testing it with the new Agriculture Update Study.

I encourage that the process to review and update the LWVUS agriculture position include adequate representation from states, such as South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota and others, whose economies are almost totally dependent on agriculture.  While there are LWV members in these states, the leagues tend to be small, not wealthy, and are often unable to be attend conventions or have their concerns and voices heard at the national level.

Response: The LWVUS has a well-established practice for ensuring that we have diverse and unbiased representation of members on our various committees, including study committees. This includes geographic diversity. Please watch for a call for study committee volunteers in the Leaders' Update weekly newsletter sometime after the Board meeting in late October.

I was hoping we would have a session at the Convention where we could discuss a study on privatization. If we are going to do studies, then we should have an opportunity to have it at the Convention.

Response:  The Privatization Study was completed and the new position announced, no one thought that a session would be wanted by the delegates. Howver, anyone can organize and request to hold a caucus on any subject.

Prioritize - we are trying to do too much.  Studying so many issues means we aren't focusing on the real and frightening threats to voting rights.  We need to keep our eye on this ball. 

The national Board would agree with you, and that was why there was no recommended study at this Convention. That is also why we have a prioritization process each January where, with member input, we select a few positions for focus and advocacy during the coming year.

Two years ago we took a major challenge of two studies in one year.  Don’t let the completed studies sit on the shelf. They were done for a reason and it would be really sad if there is not action taken, no alerts, nothing happens after all of this work from so many Leagues across the nation.

Response:The LWVUS has some 25 major positions, many with significant supporting provisions. We cannot hope to be effective in advocating on all our positions, so that is why the Board has for some years conducted an annual prioritization process each January where, with member input, we select a few positions for focus and advocacy during the coming year.

Studies are a very effective way to educate our members and to evaluate what we wish to support. We did two studies this last year and that was pushing it. We did not have any study the year before. I think it is appropriate to have as a matter of policy that we look for two studies at a Convention. The second study would actually be done in the winter/fall/spring of the year after the Convention when we do not usually have a study. So one study would be done a year after Convention and the second study would be done two years after Convention.

Response:  The LWVUS Board actually received complaints from many Leagues for doing two studies in one biennium. While we understand that an exciting study can be an effective organizing tool, some Leagues are so fatigued that they are not able to do normal advocacy and voter service, let alone studies. This fatigue factor is why the LWVUS Board did not recommend any study to the Convention this year. Furthermore, the LWVUS already has some 25 major positions, many with significant supporting provisions. We cannot hope to be effective in advocating on all our positions, so the Convention must understand this and decide whether we really need more studies.

The two studies we had last time, I led one of them (the Education study) but the second one we could never find anyone that was willing to take it on. What was the percentage of Leagues that responded and turned in consensus reports? Was it better than 50 percent?

Response:  I know that no study has recently received as much as a 50 percent response, and the response has been more like 30 percent. The LWVUS Board actually received complaints from many Leagues for doing two studies in one biennium. While we understand that an exciting study can be an effective organizing tool, some Leagues are so fatigued that they are not able to do normal advocacy and voter service, let alone studies. This fatigue factor is why the LWVUS Board did not recommend any study to the Convention this year. Furthermore, the LWVUS already has some 25 major positions, many with significant supporting provisions. We cannot hope to be effective in advocating on all our positions, so the Convention must understand this and decide whether we really need more positions.

Please inform all Leagues of the National Hot Line for Human Trafficing: 888-373-7888.  Although the proposal to get involved in studying human trafficing is a shameful problem, it is important to address. But study right now is just not feasible.  Thank you, I was inspired by this my first Nat'l Convention.

Response: We agree that human trafficking is a shameful problem, especially for young women, and we also agree that a national study right now is just not feasible. You may be aware that the Houston League has done a study on human trafficking and the Texas League is currently doing such a study. Unfortunately, human trafficking is also not a priority issue for the LWVUS just now. The LWVUS has some 25 major positions, many with significant supporting provisions. We cannot hope to be effective in advocating on all our positions, so that is why the Board has for some years conducted an annual prioritization process each January where, with member input, we select a few positions for focus and advocacy during the coming year.

Technology/Web Site/League Lists    

Responder: Norman Turrill

I spoke on this issue at plenary.  I want to be involved in the data base re-design.  I cannot afford to travel to meetings but am fairly savvy tech-wise and could participate in webinars to give feedback.  As a newly-elected Pres, I would not have the time to be a "worker bee" on this issue.  However, I worked with lots of data base design projects in my previous existence (before retirement) so think I could be of assistance on this issue.  If you held webinars in the evening (except Monday evenings), I might be able to get our Treasurer involved.  She has also been State League Treasurer for several years so could offer valuable assistance. Thank you

Response:  The analysis, selection, design, implementation and testing of the new "contituent relationship management" system will be at least a two year process, and it will be much more than just a database. We are only at the analysis stage now. However, you may be able to help in the later stages of this process in evaluating and testing its implementation through the internet. Please watch the Leaders' Update weekly newsletter for a call for volunteers, if we decide that would be helpful.

I was inspired by the President's Report. As a relatively younger (age 60) member of the League, I am sometimes frustrated by the pace at which the League can move. I would encourage the Board to promote experimentation with "go to meeting" type software for consensus purposes (and also possibly Webinars). (I must admit that you may actually now do Webinars and I have not watched one.) It might be possible for national to license a Webinar package that could then be made available to local or state leagues for a smaller usage fee. My own League (Falls Church, Virginia) covers a very small geographic area, but this might be a good solution for younger, and more geographically dispersed members.

Response:  We do many webinars now using the Adobe Connect software that we have licensed for LWVUS’ use, but we cannot afford to make it available for all Leagues . A recent recorded webinar on Social Media can be seen here: http://www.lwv.org/content/social-media-101-webinar and other recordings can be found by searching the website for "webinar". We also encourage Leagues to use other (often free) software services such as Skype, FreeConferenceCalls.com, GoToMeeting, and others as they see fit. All such services can help with League meetings over a geographically dispersed area. We are aware that serveral western Leagues, including California, Oregon and Idaho, use these services. We also are considering a new model of League unit or chapter organization that we are calling the "virtual League." Please stay tuned for more on that new model.

One week from now there will be an important world meeting in Rio sometimes called Rio Plus 20. I would urge that we display this prominently on our website with links to many of the groups, maybe our U.N. Group.

Response:  We have many competing programs that need to be highlighted, so we must choose only those of the highest priority at a given time to be displayed prominently on our website. Because we are a multi-issue organization, every topic is important to someone, so website design is that much more difficult. However, if you spend just a little time searching our website for "Rio 20" then you will find at least two mentions of that important conference, http://www.lwv.org/events/uns-rio20-conference-sustainable-development and http://www.lwv.org/content/uns-rio20-conference-thrusts-and-outcomes.

I think it makes no sense that the internal/intranet/micronet portion of the webeasy is "hidden" from the public. I think it's great that this function exists, that we can have a private site for internal documents. But why in the world do we have to rely on the horrible communication systems that exist within the league to forward on a URL to every new member. This system is so backward and unsustainable, and opposite of every other kind of member organization. I was told the reason for this is that then the website doesn't have to be behind a password. But hiding this site and only making it available to the miscellaneous people who hear about it IS password protection.

Response:  There is no League program called "webeasy." If you are referring to League Easy Web (LEW), then that is a service of the LWV of California that the LWVUS encourages all Leagues to consider using to easily build a website. LEW does allow for either a hidden or a password protected members' section, but that is the decision of each League that uses the LEW service. As for the national LWVUS website, very little material, such as our LWV logos, requires that a member log in, and that login is using their personal email address and password.