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The Making of the 2005 World Breastfeeding Week Celebration in the US

Robin Rziha
Hoisington KS USA
Jane Tuttle
Lawrence KS USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 4, August-September 2005, p. 92.

There is an analogy between how the human body makes milk and how the 2005 celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) works. On the surface, both look amazingly simple. A woman's body lactates after pregnancy. The 2005 celebration materials appear on the Web site. However, neither operation is simple; rather, they are a combination of complex activities that rely upon one another. As Leaders, we often marvel at the science of lactation. There is also much to appreciate in how the WBW celebration comes into being each year.

The celebration for World Breastfeeding Week in the United States is an annual event officially held August 1 through 7 to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Innocenti Declaration. Leaders, members, and the community celebrate in a variety of ways and at various times. Always included in the mix of the celebration is raising awareness for breastfeeding and La Leche League, as well as raising funds. Before most people will donate money to a cause, they need to have their awareness piqued. Even before Leaders can contemplate how to celebrate the week, lots of work is taking place to ensure Leaders' success.

In 2005, the two US Divisions have taken responsibility for coordinating the celebration. A small team of Leaders came together because they share a passion for raising funds, for raising breastfeeding awareness, and especially for La Leche League. This Planning Team took all the information shared on the 2004 evaluations and brainstormed the framework for the WBW celebration in 2005 with the hundred members of the WBW discussion email list. While those ideas were percolating, the Paperwork Design Workgroup edited the 2004 forms and added new ones. Then, working with LLLI Executive Director Hedy Nuriel, the Division Directors signed an agreement.

Signing this agreement was the first official step in making the celebration a reality. The agreement is an explicit understanding of how the Divisions' WBW Coordinating Team will use the LLL brand (name and logo) and what both parties expect from this event. Always central to the agreement is to support the LLLI mission.

Among the discussion topics was the use of incentive prizes. Most agreed that having an exciting incentive prize is motivating for those raising money. Deciding on the exact prizes can be daunting. The incentives need to be both motivating and relevant to those participating in the WBW celebration. Based on the feedback from the 2004 celebration, a prize for Groups has been added.

Moreover, finding prize sponsors was an equal challenge. Besides wanting to support LLL, sponsors need a return on their investment -- advertising. The prize sponsors are promised exposure with links on the WBW Web site ( as well as their businesses mentioned in publications.

One of the decisions that needs to be made about the celebration is determining the percentage breakdown for the funds raised. This year, like last, the WBW Discussion email list was asked to share their thoughts on how to distribute the funds raised. Everyone agreed that the Leaders doing the actual fundraising should keep the largest percentage of the funds for their Groups.

The WBW Discussion email list's suggestions, along with the Planning Team's past experiences, led to the decision to distribute the funds as follows:

  • 50 percent Group
  • 15 percent Area
  • 5 percent LLLI
  • 20 percent Division
  • 5 percent US Divisions will each hold in trust for future joint projects
  • 5 percent WBW Expenses/Start-up

This year it was also acknowledged that all should share in the expenses of doing the celebration; thus, the decision was made to retain five percent of the net funds for these expenses. Just as we distribute the funds raised, we are distributing the financial risks involved in any fundraising activity. Expenses will be mainly for prizes not paid for by sponsors.

Another topic that garnered quite a bit of discussion was what are truly WBW celebration funds. Remembering the purpose of the WBW celebration, those planning the event needed to come to consensus on what revenue sources will be counted toward the official total amounts reported to the Area WBW Coordinator (AWC) and would therefore qualify for prizes. In order to be counted toward prizes, the money must be available for the percentage distribution. The incidental sale of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING at a WBW celebration probably isn't WBW revenue and would not be included in the percentage distribution. Holding a fundraising event/activity in the name of WBW does open those funds up to the percentage distribution. As always, organizers are asked to use the LLLI mission and the purpose for WBW as their guideline for money distribution.

The forms used for WBW were designed from the collective wisdom of the past years. Suggestions from participants weigh heavily on every form's final format. The suggestions for the Web site were also considered by the Web designers. Ease of use is one of the highest priorities. The Web site has a myriad of materials for Leaders to adapt to their local celebration.

Planning for a nationwide event needs to start a year in advance. Decisions are made after careful consideration by all the parties involved. Those Leaders who feel passionately about the WBW celebration are encouraged to volunteer for the Planning Team. The Planning Team along with the AWCs and the Discussion email lists work to make the celebrations for WBW meaningful, fun, and successful for all those who participate.

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