Guidelines For LWVUS State And Local League Liaisons
One of the most important responsibilities of a board member is to serve as a liaison and partner to state/local Leagues on behalf of the LWVUS. The role of liaison consists of two parts: 1) to describe/explain decisions made by the national board and to gather feedback on issues of importance to the board and 2) to ascertain the health of the state and local Leagues to which you have been assigned and provide needed advice and assistance in collaboration with state Leagues and the national staff.
As a new liaison, introduce yourself to your state and local Leagues by letter, phone call or email. Request to be put on the newsletter mailing list and offer to be available to assist them at any time. Following local/state leadership changes, you may need to repeat this request.
Developing relationships with state and local Leagues strengthens the message that, although we have three levels, we are fundamentally one organization. Emphasize that the vitality of all three levels is essential for the overall health of the organization.
... Gather information about your assigned state and local Leagues by reading newsletters, minutes and other materials that may be sent to you via mail or email. Assess their strengths and weaknesses.
... Respond promptly to local/state League requests for assistance, referring questions to other board members or staff as needed.
... Contact your assigned state Leagues quarterly, by phone or email, to update them about LWVUS/EF activities, to obtain information requested by the board, and to offer suggestions, encouragement and assistance, as needed.
... Obtain information from state Leagues about their field service activities and their own evaluations of the health of their local Leagues.
... Be alert for exceptional leaders, whose names might be forwarded to the LWVUS nominating committee.
... At least twice a year (or more frequently if necessary) submit a summary report to the field support committee and the field support staff detailing your liaison state and local Leagues' accomplishments, activities, or problems.
TRANSMITTING BOARD DECISIONS/GATHERING INFORMATION:
In the course of a national board meeting, decisions are sometimes made that need to be transmitted to state/local Leagues promptly. In addition, the board sometimes decides that it would like to gather opinions from League leaders on particular issues.
Although controversial decisions are usually transmitted formally to League leaders via email, it is sometimes important to discuss such decisions verbally with League leaders, particularly state League presidents. Depending upon the situation, you may want to ask them in turn to contact their local Leagues.
Routinely contacting your state Leagues following each board meeting is helpful in building an ongoing partnership relationship.
ASSESSING THE HEALTH OF STATE AND LOCAL LEAGUES:
Through reading their League newsletters and your conversations with state/local League leaders, you should try to assess the health of your assigned state and local Leagues. Below are some indicators to keep in mind in doing such assessments. Once you learn of a League's plans, these indicators provide a way to follow up throughout the year to evaluate progress. Some are more appropriate for a local League than a state League, but most are applicable to both.
1. GOALS: Has the board set goals and priorities for the year, and what is the plan to implement these goals?
2. MEMBERSHIP: Does the League have a membership retention and recruitment plan? Are new member orientations being conducted?
3. FINANCES: Does the League have a balanced budget? Are dues collected promptly and regularly? Are PMP payments current? Does the League conduct a finance drive or have fundraising events? Are the League's financial records audited, either professionally or by a committee?
4. COMMUNICATIONS: Are newsletters being published regularly? Is the League visible and having an impact in the community/state?
5. BOARD: Does the board membership change or do the same people continue serving on the board? Are board orientations held? Are board policies, particularly the nonpartisan policy, reviewed annually? How does the state League board assist their local Leagues?
6. PROGRAM: Does the League take action? Does the League conduct public forums? What voter service activities does the League conduct?
7. ANNUAL MEETINGS, CONVENTIONS AND COUNCILS: Does a local League hold an annual meeting and attend state/national conventions/councils? Does a state League hold conventions/councils and send delegates to national conventions/councils?
In addition, the national League staff keeps board members informed about Leagues in PMP arrears and Leagues that are lax in submitting member count information. These are additional indicators of Leagues that may be in trouble and that might benefit from some extra attention from you.
If it seems as though there may be problems in a particular area, contact the League president to ascertain the extent of the problem and to offer suggestions and guidance. Other board members and staff should also be consulted as resources.
Keep in mind that you are an important part of a team working for the overall health of the League at all levels. The more communicative and helpful you are, the more likely a League is to respond.