The end of the year is a time when many worthy causes seek donations to support their work. From Salvation Army Santas to Giving Trees to United Way workplace appeals, I think most of us are hard-pressed to not receive an "ask" from a worthy cause.
For those of you who are considering such an appeal, I want to remind you of a cause that may not be as seasonal as the ones I just mentioned, but is nonetheless one that relies in particular on the generosity of lawyers and judges: the King County Bar Foundation.
Since some might be tempted to respond, "I've already paid my KCBA dues, why should I pay to another arm of the King County Bar?" I thought I'd use this space to offer some clarification and encouragement.
While member dues are the biggest source of revenue used to carry out the programs of the King County Bar Association, they represent about one-third of our total budget. To carry out all our priorities and programs, we need additional sources of funding. These include education program and lawyer referral fees, as well as publication sales.
Most bar associations stop seeking revenues once these revenue sources are secured and then carry out traditional bar programs such as judicial liaison and ratings, a monthly publication, and services for young lawyers.
But the King County Bar is not like most bars. We are one of a handful of major metropolitan bar associations that also carries out our own public programs to help our community. Our largest public program is our pro bono civil legal aid services for the indigent, for which 1,300 volunteer lawyers serve 10,000 clients each year, supported by about a dozen staff members. Our other critical program is the minority law student scholarship grant we make each year to the University of Washington and Seattle University law schools; a $136,000 pool of money is awarded each year.
Without the additional funds that we can generate through voluntary donations to the King County Bar Foundation, our public programs would be but a shadow of what we currently accomplish. And I can assure you that we leverage the heck out of those donations: for every dollar we spend on pro bono programs, for example, we are generating $5 in legal services. I think most investment managers would say that's a pretty decent rate of return for donors.
So, how can you help in this "year-end" season? First, if you're already a KCBF donor, thank you. If you have some extra funds in your charitable "budget," KCBF can always put an additional donation to good use. Perhaps you might reach into your wallet one more time for us? Or might you be willing to make a longer-term commitment over and above your regular annual gifts and join our "Giving Circle" program? More details are available at www.kcbf.org/givingcircles.
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