Growing the League and hosting events to enrich the community requires resources. Local Leagues everywhere are working to generate those resources, and many of the innovative events they plan have added benefits, such as increased visibility and connectedness within the community. The LWV of Manistee County, Michigan has been extremely successful in these efforts.
Every April for the past three years, the Manistee County League has organized an event that blends competition, community, and entertainment: the Pictionary Olympics. All of the League’s members work together to recruit participants, advertise, and coordinate teams leading up to the event and to ensure it runs smoothly. Each team is made up of four competitors, with each representing one of a diverse group of local businesses that includes real estate agencies, veterinary offices, health groups, and exercise gyms, among others. The funds from the event come from a $100 entry fee per team and $3 tickets for spectators. After subtracting $200 in venue expenses, the League makes about $1,000 from the annual event, which goes towards operating costs and promotional materials that help to keep the League healthy, vibrant and strong.
The fundraiser is an institution in the already tight-knit community; Manistee County has a population of about 25,000 and the town of Manistee about 12,000. When asked about advice for other Leagues looking to fundraise, League Treasurer Joanne Schroeder urged that they should find out what works in their own area. In a county with such a well-established sense of camaraderie, the Pictionary Olympics works well. This year, the event drew a crowd of about 50 to the Manistee Golf and Country Club to cheer on their choice teams, which have their own particular enthusiasm for the competition. Schroeder recalls that, “When the teams leave with their trophies, they’ll say ‘I’ll be back next year to defend this!’ It’s fun and competitive.” Even the teams that come in last are eager to come back!
By creating a singular and compelling opportunity for people to come together, the local League increases the organization’s exposure as well as its capital. The Pictionary Olympics allows members to meet more of their neighbors as well. “People can’t go down the street and find the office of the Manistee County League of Women Voters. This puts us out in front of the public,” remarked Schroeder. We’re certain the public loves what they see. Thank you to the members and leaders of LWV of Manistee County for all you do!