ILNews

Policy change means ILAS will have to raise more funds

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A change in policy from its largest contributor is pushing Indianapolis Legal Aid Society to introduce itself to a wider audience.
 

fundcut-15col.jpg Ron Walker (left), president of the Indiana Legal Aid Society, and John Floreancig, general counsel of ILAS, review plans with a consultant. The agency is stepping up fundraising efforts to cope with a reduction in support from the United Way of Central Indiana. (IL Photo/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

About a month ago, the nonprofit was notified that the United Way of Central Indiana would be reducing its contribution by nearly $126,000, according to John Floreancig, general counsel of ILAS and Ron Walker, president of the ILAS board of directors.

The cut is the result of a recent shift in United Way policy. Specifically, the organization does not want its contributions to exceed 35 percent of any receiving agency’s annual budget.

In the UWCI’s 2012-2013 fiscal year, ILAS has an annual budget of approximately $760,000, of which United Way support comprises about 51 percent or $384,541. The reduction will be phased in over the next three years until the amount cut comes close to $126,000.

“It’s not the best way to start your day,” Walker said of the phone call informing him of the United Way’s decision. “But I think in the long run, to me, it makes sense from their point of view. And I think it’s good for us in the sense that we will have to go out and make our case better and more broadly.”

For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the United Way website shows ILAS received $271,792 from the community fund and another $19,939 in designated contributions.

The United Way of Central Indiana board of directors adopted the new policy May 22 at the recommendation of the United Way’s human services committee.

“In reviewing our policy it’s really a best practice to not have more than 30 or 35 percent of an agency’s budget coming from any one source,” said President and CEO of the United Way of Central Indiana Ann Murtlow, explaining organizations can risk their sustainability if too much support is coming from one source. Nonprofits need a diverse revenue stream to provide security long term, she said.

The exception to the new policy is Connect2Help. Because of the agency’s unique role in connecting people in the community with programs and services, Murtlow explained that the United Way will continue to provide more than 35 percent support.

According to its website, the UWCI supports 93 agencies spread throughout a six-county region. Four agencies, including ILAS, are currently depending on that support for more than 35 percent of their respective budgets, Murtlow said.

Both Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and Indiana Legal Services Inc. get support from the UWCI but for neither agency does the level of funding come close to the 35 percent ceiling.

The $73,335 the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic was appropriated from the United Way’s community fund for 2013-2014 comprises roughly 4 percent of the agency’s $1.8 million annual budget, said Josh Abel, executive director of the clinic. This money comes in addition to the $23,773 in designated contributions from United Way donors.

Likewise, the $7.5 million annual budget at Indiana Legal Services relies little on UWCI support. From the United Way’s community fund, ILS is rece

ILAS_box.jpg

iving $110,961 in 2013-2014 along with $18,997 in designated contributions.

The 35 percent ceiling does not preclude agencies from receiving additional monies from the United Way through grants, Murtlow said.

Abel pointed out that in addition to the community fund dollars, the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic received $75,000 last year to support the work it was doing with Latinos.

To soften the blow, the United Way will be phasing in the reduction. Figures from Walker and Floreancig show ILAS will lose $41,897 in UWCI support during the United Way’s fiscal year 2013-2014 and $83,795 in FY 2014-2015 before reaching the full $125,692 in FY 2015-2016.

To counter the drop from the United Way, the ILAS plans to increase its fundraising efforts by looking for ways to bring in more private donors, especially those outside of the legal community. In the nonprofit sector, conventional wisdom holds that donors are the most sustainable way to raise money.

Walker described the solicitations as being aimed at two groups. First, the agency will solicit donations from the legal community by reminding lawyers of their ethical obligations to provide services to the indigent. Second, it will introduce itself to the wider community with the message that having free legal help available to the underserved improves the stature of Indianapolis.

“You want people when they need the legal system to have access to it,” Walker said. “What we’re finally figuring out is that having these services available to everybody who needs them, not just the wealthy, is part of being a world-class city.”

Until recently, the ILAS did not devote as much time to fundraising, Floreancig said. Before the United Way announcement, the legal agency had been looking for ways to increase donations. But now that the agency is facing a shortfall, it is stepping up its effort. The nonprofit has hired philanthropic consultants Johnson Grossnickle and Associates in Greenwood to help.

Other sources of funding for the ILAS are the Indiana Civil Legal Aid Fund, a $10 registration fee from clients who are able to pay, and fundraising events.

Floreancig said his nonprofit is very positive and considers United Way’s change in policy as providing a push to connect with individuals beyond those it serves.

“We think it is a golden opportunity to branch out to the nonlegal community and to educate lawyers that we’re here and we’re privately funded,” he said.

The ILAS has reason to believe stepped-up fundraising will bring a response. During the nonprofit’s annual dollar campaign in December 2012, board members made a more focused effort to remind donors to mail in their donations. As a result, contributions reached a high of roughly $155,000.

Still, Floreancig notes the ILAS does have obstacles to conveying its message in a market that has many worthy causes. Confidentiality concerns prevent the legal aid organization from parading its clients’ stories in public, so explaining what the nonprofit does and who it helps will be difficult.

On top of the reduction, ILAS is not seeing a decrease in demand for its services. The cramped waiting room overflows, especially on Monday mornings, sending clients to sit in the hallway outside the agency’s front door.

“I see all the economic reports,” Floreancig said, “but my waiting room is my economic barometer.”

In addition, the ILAS, which handles mostly family law cases, does not duplicate services offered by the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and Indiana Legal Services. As Walker noted, the three agencies are not competing for clients because many low-income individuals need help with legal problems.

Murtlow said the overall fundraising climate in Indianapolis is good. Along with the improving economy, the Circle City is “deeply steeped in community service and philanthropy.”

“I think when an organization does good work, people rise to the occasion,” Murtlow said, noting law firms and lawyers understand the service ILAS provides. “I would imagine they (ILAS) would receive significant support.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. "Am I bugging you? I don't mean to bug ya." If what I wrote below is too much social philosophy for Indiana attorneys, just take ten this vacay to watch The Lego Movie with kiddies and sing along where appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etzMjoH0rJw

  2. I've got some free speech to share here about who is at work via the cat's paw of the ACLU stamping out Christian observances.... 2 Thessalonians chap 2: "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last."

  3. Did someone not tell people who have access to the Chevy Volts that it has a gas engine and will run just like a normal car? The batteries give the Volt approximately a 40 mile range, but after that the gas engine will propel the vehicle either directly through the transmission like any other car, or gas engine recharges the batteries depending on the conditions.

  4. Catholic, Lutheran, even the Baptists nuzzling the wolf! http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-documents-reveal-obama-hhs-paid-baptist-children-family-services-182129786-four-months-housing-illegal-alien-children/ YET where is the Progressivist outcry? Silent. I wonder why?

  5. Thank you, Honorable Ladies, and thank you, TIL, for this interesting interview. The most interesting question was the last one, which drew the least response. Could it be that NFP stamps are a threat to the very foundation of our common law American legal tradition, a throwback to the continental system that facilitated differing standards of justice? A throwback to Star Chamber’s protection of the landed gentry? If TIL ever again interviews this same panel, I would recommend inviting one known for voicing socio-legal dissent for the masses, maybe Welch, maybe Ogden, maybe our own John Smith? As demographics shift and our social cohesion precipitously drops, a consistent judicial core will become more and more important so that Justice and Equal Protection and Due Process are yet guiding stars. If those stars fall from our collective social horizon (and can they be seen even now through the haze of NFP opinions?) then what glue other than more NFP decisions and TRO’s and executive orders -- all backed by more and more lethally armed praetorians – will prop up our government institutions? And if and when we do arrive at such an end … will any then dare call that tyranny? Or will the cost of such dissent be too high to justify?

ADVERTISEMENT