ILAS misses goal but reaps record donations

The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society did not get its wished-for amount from its 2021 holiday campaign, but the nonprofit still reaped a record $250,000-plus, which can be used to help with whatever problem walks in the door.

In advance of last year’s fundraiser, ILAS had set an ambitious goal of $400,000. Other holiday campaigns had brought in half that amount or less, but a revamped effort in 2020 reaped a then-record of $227,987.

The 2021 campaign reached a new record of $257,517.

John Floreancig, ILAS general counsel and CEO, described the donated funds as “unrestricted and badly needed.”

Increasingly as its main benefactor, the United Way of Central Indiana, has pulled back support, the nonprofit has had to rely on grants. In 2020, 70% of its funding came from grants. The grant monies are typically focused on particular issues and cannot be used to address any other matters.

“We were very pleased with the response we got,” Floreancig said. “… This allows us to help anyone who walks in the door with any problem on any given day.”

The 2021 campaign built on the method used in 2020 of designating team captains in about 40 law firms around Indianapolis to encourage their colleagues to donate to the legal aid society. Also, Floreancig and ILAS board members met with the management committees of several firms to ask for support.

Guiding the work of the team captains was a 10-member committee, co-chaired by Lee Christie, partner at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, and John McLaughlin, partner at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse.

McLaughlin said he found multiple joys in working on the holiday campaign.

Specifically, he said he is pleased that the record donations will help provide legal assistance to those “most at risk and most in need.” Also, he said he enjoyed working on the fundraising because the lawyers were able to return to in-person networking activities like meeting for lunch and attending a function hosted by Christie at his firm.

Securing the donations required a lot of personal contact, McLaughlin said. The committee members and team captains often made second phone calls and sent follow-up emails, making passionate and aggressive pitches to get dollars.

In the end, McLaughlin said the legal aid society shot for the moon and landed on the roof.

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