I got an email today from a delegate I met at Convention who received a fundraising letter from LWVUS on Saturday to "Take a stand for free, fair and accessible elections!"  The delegate was asked to sign the LWVUS petition to end dark money and to please "send a generous contribution of $25, $40 or more to help the League fight...." No where in the letter was the word "member" used.  This delegate checked to see this was not just an accident in case it should have gone to another person with the same name. So she looked up her name on the LWVUS member roster and found her member number.  Shen then looked at the reply insert that LWVUS sent to return with her check - there on the front below her name was her member number.  So whoever compiled this list knew that they were soliciting donations from a member.  President Elizabeth MacNamara's statement to a question put to her at Plenary that members are not on donation solicitation lists was therefore in fact wrong.  
As discussed in a few forums at Convention, struggling local Leagues need to be able to solicit donations from their members without interference from National, while the LWVUS should only solicit contributions from non members.  This is a HUGE issue, and it is going to flow over into the implementation of the new CRM system.



I think what Elizabeth said was that they do not sell or give members names to other organizations. She did not say that they don't ask members for money.

I think you should be careful about saying that a person tells a lie.

National Soliciting Funds from Local LWV Members

The question was quite specific, and my notes indicate it had to do with National soliciting Local League members directly, as well as selling their names to other entities.  I understand there are big problems with National's current database, which hopefully the new CRM system will resolve - but the new system's development requires that ground rules be set for who can access what names for what purposes.  The issue of National soliciting local members for donations directly is a very hot one.  During the CRM deployment local leagues will validate member contact information - and many leagues will be reluctant to use the system if it thinks that as a result, National will be soliciting all of its members.

Being a member of the LWV means supporting all levels

As a 40 year member of the League, I feel compelled to respond to the idea that the various levels of the League are somehow independent of and are engaged in a competition with each other for member support and funding.

We are all members of the League at all levels (that apply to us) the moment we join. This is our strength! We are united through the League Principles and processes in acting at whatever level is appropriate to support representative government and maintain individual liberties as established in the US Constitution. 

I think you would be hard pressed to find a member who doesn't believe that the action the LWVUS is taking to support national voting rights is unimportant to them, or that the action their state is involved with is irrelevant, not to mention the work that happens within their local communities. The reason the League has multiple levels is not because we are separate groups with a loose tie to each other, but because we are one unified group that understands the power of being able to respond readily to the issues that come up before these various levels of government in a unified voice. 

Yes, the local League is the primary identity we use to recruit new members. And it is our responsibility at this local level to explain to the new member the wonderful advantage they obtain through their membership by automatically being a part of the powerhouse of positions described in the Impact on Issues, not to mention the accumulated positions at the state and local levels (and regional levels, if they happen to live where this level is also present). 

We all know that funding is necessary to accomplish our work at each of these levels. But to limit the knowledge of our members to the opportunities that their membership provides by prohibiting the LWVUS from contacting them about the work our organization is doing at the national level and the corresponding invitation to contribute an additional donation for a specific activity is contrary to the purpose of our organization. 

Surely, as a member of the League, you believe in an informed and active participatory system for decision-making. So please give your members the benefit of this belief. Make sure that they are as informed as possible about all aspects of the League, so they can make their financial and time commitments to our organization from a position of knowledge. We will all be the stonger for it!


Being a member of the LWV means supporting all levels

Thanks very much for a beautifully written statement! I know you speak for me, and I believe you speak for most League members around the country.

Helen Hutchison

LWV California

Helen Hutchison

LWV California

Barbara Zia

Supporting the League

Thanks for putting my feelings about supporting the League at all levels into words. I give to the extent I am able to my local, state and national League. It's difficult to imagine what our nation and communities would be like without an active, vibrant League of Women Voters. 

Barbara Zia

Mount Pleasant, SC

Barbara Zia
LWVUS Director
Chair, Money in Politics Committee
Member, LWV Charleston Area, SC

National soliciting funds from local LWV members

Doris Schapira's reply jibes with my memory of what was said at Convention. Members' names are not sold or exchanged with other groups. However, it's important to realize that appeals for donations from members are an important source of revenue at all levels of League. I'm not unusual in that I'm a long-time member who donates to all levels--national, state, and local. I tailor the amount of those donations to my own interests and knowledge of the needs of each level.

For years, the LWVUS has encouraged local and state Leagues to time their appeals so that they don't overlap with the national appeals, for the benefit of all levels of League. They have published the schedule of national League appeals so that local and state levels can take that into account in their planning. Please visit to see the 2013-2014 schedule, which must have been made up approximately a year ago. In particular, the line at the bottom of the PDF attachment states "appeal mailings include approximately 10,000 member/donors (local members who also contribute to LWVUS/EF."

Solicitation of contributions from members

 I am not at all sure just what Elizabeth said at Convention but I'm pretty sure she did not say that members would not receive solicitations because the fact is that it has been happening for years.  I have been receiving such solicitations from the League for a long time.  Don't know whether they are from the member list or some other sources but they seem inevitable.   We don't HAVE to respond to them if we prefer to give to our local Leagues.  I personally give at all three levels when I can.

National Soliciting Funds from LL members

Among the best practices in fundraising is the solicitation of donations from an organization's volunteers.  After all, the volunteers are among those closest to the work of the organization and very aware of the good that the organization does.

In the League, LWVUS does solicit its own members, and many of us give to our local and state League in addition to the national League. LWVUS does not share members' names with other organizations when lists are exchanged or purchased.  Only the names of non-member donors are provided by LWVUS to other organizations.

Sometimes, the discussion about mailing lists for fundraising can get confusing.  Just remember: the LWVUS does solicit our own members for donations, but LWVUS does not sell or exchange members' names with other organizations.

Linda Wassenich




Linda P. Wassenich

Member: LWV-Dallas, TX

LWVUS Board of Directors

Chair, Development Committee

Fundraising appeals from national

I think that four times a year is too often. We are attracting new members, but they don't want to share their emails (which is inconvenient for us) because they don't want constant appeals from national. Twice a year is plenty.

LWVUS soliciting existing members to "join" the League

I agree with those on this forum who have suggested that it is entirely appropriate for LWVUS to solicit its existing members for donations.  We members are the ones who (hopefully) are most familiar with the work of LWVUS and I think it is appropriate for each of use to donate, as we can.

HOWEVER, I feel very strongly that LWVUS should NEVER use th "J" word (join) in any fundraising appeals and I believe they promised never to do that a couple years ago. 

At least one of my local board members recently received a "VOTER OPINION SURVEY" from the LWVUS. Apparently it asked members to send money to "join" the League. She indicated that "Of course, local members are automatically members of LWVUS and the greatest portion of our dues goes to them. Not only will this letter lead to confusion about membership, but it's also likely to annoy people--even to the point of deciding not to renew. This comes at the very time that we are asking people to renew their membership!"

This reminds me of an issue that came up a few years ago when LWVUS was still classifying certain donors who gave around $50 as "nationally recruited members"  and entering them in the local's database with an "R" code. They would then notify the local and even credit the local for part of the PMP for those people.  

The issue was that most fund-raising letters asked people to "join" the League by donating - without specifying the amount needed to be classified as a "member." This led to much confusion among people who donated less than the amount required to be classified as a member. We had two or three people in our community who donated less and even got letters thanking them for "joining," but who were not entered into the database and the local was not notified who they were. It was extremely frustrating to us to find people who thought they were members but for whom we had no record -- because, in fact, they were not "members."

That's why I was appalled to learn that this is happening again.  I'm not objecting to LWVUS seeking donations from existing members, although I think that they send too many requests. I've gotten used to it and am so committed to League that I just ignore requests once I've given as much as I can afford.  

But newer members can not only be annoyed by such requests, but terribly confused when they think they are already members and then get a letter - or Survey - or other ruse from LWVUS asking them to "join" by sending money directly to LWVUS. This is a particular problem for newer members (and some longer-term members as well) who know that the bulk of their dues goes to LWVUS and don't recognize the incredible/valuable service LWVUS performs as well as the value that our reputation gives to the local in their own recruiting, fundraising, educational and advocacy work at the local level.

I believe that we were promised some time ago when LWVUS stopped "recruiting" that they would stop using the word "join" in fund raising appeals.

That's all they need to do.  Just don't use that "J" word!

Sandy Spence, former membership chair
LWV of Sussex County (Delaware)