That’s what changed: LOCATION. It used to be that volunteers gathered at one location after work to use a bank of telephones to call potential donors, working from stacks of printed donor cards. This year calls were made by volunteers all day and evening, from whatever phone was handiest, while volunteers used an online database of potential donor names. Reams of paper were spared and the effort surpassed the 2015 first-day tally of $69,148.
Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY) put together a team to focus on the one thousand plus attorneys who have never donated to the Campaign for Justice, so they were willing to gather for a lunch hour photo in the Telesca Center for Justice with LawNY Executive Director Ken Perri participating via video conference from the Geneva office.
In the photo, LawNY’s Marlene Attardo and Robin Marable use cell phones to demonstrate calling efforts while Harter Secrest & Emery LLP attorney and LawNY Board Member Iskra Bonanno (center) joins the effort. Far right is Lori O’Brien, LawNY managing attorney. Contributing to the $280,000 campaign goal, several of those “cold calls” resulted in donations.
When the Campaign for Justice started in 1986, I personally was working on a Wang system at Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co. at 50 E. Broad St., and talk of the paperless office was a pipe dream. Personal computers were making their way into more and more businesses, but we had not yet come to rely on cell phones, or e-mail, or handheld devices. We did not know what an electronic tablet was.
So that very first Campaign for Justice fundraiser relied on paper files, and paper donor cards created from that accumulation of data that we so freely call a database today. Our file cabinets and file folders held the recorded information we manually looked up.
We’ve come a long way in 30 years, with the 2016 Campaign for Justice eliminating reams of paper allowing volunteers to work from and update a special donor database. And, if you are pulling names and phone numbers from cyberspace via electronic device, you can probably be anywhere to make and receive phone calls.
Using the CFJ online database of names and phone numbers saved an initial printing of some 2500 pledge cards/donor sheets. Those paper sheets needed to be sorted, alphabetized, updated, and handled by multiple people over the course of the campaign.
“We still believe in the value of the personal outreach. It is a once-a-year opportunity to help level the playing field where low income residents need guidance on debt, foreclosure, custody, tenant evictions, unemployment insurance, and similar daily-living concerns,” VLSP Executive Director Sheila Gaddis noted.
Written by Nora A. Jones