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Learning from the Field: Successful Fundraising to Support Legal Aid

LSC Board of Directors Promotion and Provision for the Delivery of Legal Services Committee
Friday, October 12, 2012

To help meet the growing need for private funding in legal aid, LSC’s Board of Directors Promotion and Provision for the Delivery of Legal Services Committee hosted a panel presentation on Resource Development. The presenters addressed salient trends in legal aid funding, as well as the elements of successful resource development.

The need for private fundraising among LSC grantees has existed since the early 1980s. Current trends indicate that legal aid organizations are facing decreases in both LSC and IOLTA funding, thus increasing the importance of private fundraising. However, opportunities for private fundraising are often overlooked because fundraising can be difficult and expensive.

To demystify the fundraising process, this presentation emphasizes four primary factors of successful resource development. To be successful in private fundraising, a legal aid organization must:

  •  Be both well-known and well-respected
  •  Cultivate strong and dedicated volunteer leadership
  •  Establish staff leadership of the fundraising process
  •  Implement a carefully designed resource development strategy

To supplement the theoretical fundraising suggestions with specific examples, presenters provided examples of specific successes in resource development. These included:

  • Legal Services of South Central Michigan’s statewide “Access to Justice” campaign, which allows both individual donors and statewide firms to donate directly to the statewide endowment or to regional and local programs
  • Eastern Missouri’s increase in funding from State Bar Dues and the Pro Hac Vice Fees
  • The Legal Aid and Defender Association’s “Legal Legacy Campaign” which combines funding from law firms and corporations and is focused on a capital campaign
  • Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Private Bar Campaign and establishment of an endowment.

The full presentation is available below. 


  • Meredith McBurney, Resource Development Consultant, ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives and Management Information Exchange (Moderator)
  • Jennifer Bentley, Outreach and Development Manager, Legal Services of South Central Michigan
  • Steve Gottlieb, Executive Director, Atlanta Legal Aid Society
  • Daniel K. Glazier, Executive Director and General Counsel, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
  • Deierdre L. Weir, Executive Director, Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc.
Contact Information: 

Mytrang Nguyen

Program Counsel
Legal Services Corporation