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LLL Leaders Are Part of the Development Effort

Jane Tuttle and Ellen Shein
Co-chairs of the Resource Development Committee, LLLI Board of Directors
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 6, December 2005-January 2006, p. 141.

Helping women to breastfeed their babies is the hallmark of what a volunteer La Leche League Leader does. LLL Leaders provide information and support to mothers without any expectation of payment: we share our expertise freely. Whether a Leader spends hours with the mother or just gives her a friendly smile, a Leader can make a big difference in a woman's life.

When we are truly communicating with people, we are giving them what Professor Lawrence J. Bookbinder calls a "psychological hug." Bookbinder noted "the use of empathy and listening skills sometimes stimulates one's conversation partner to feel like he or she is receiving a hug -- a psychological hug."

Leaders' interactions with mothers at meetings, on the phone, or informally outside of a meeting are our opportunity to give mothers a psychological hug and in some cases, a real hug. LLL has been the leading authority on breastfeeding information for years and we are a leader in the mother-to-mother support arena. We build special relationships with mothers and their families.

The very work that Leaders do, helping mothers breastfeed their babies, is a form of fundraising and development work. Leaders are building a relationship with a potential donor, the mother. Leaders know that the memories of the breastfeeding relationship last a lifetime as older women often reminisce about their breastfeeding experiences. Those memories are part of the relationship that a Leader has built with a mother.

Friend-building and relationship-building are important in development work. While donors may give to a cause, they usually give to that cause because someone asked them and the cause resonates with them on a personal level. If you have a relationship first, the funds are more likely to come. Research shows that in the USA most donations come from individuals, not from grants or foundations.

An important aspect of fundraising is to ask for the donation. While some people will give without being asked, they are rare. LLLI makes a difference in the world and the good work that LLL does deserves funding. The fact that LLLI, as an organization, makes a difference is an important point to make when asking for a donation. People are more likely to make a donation when they know what the organization is about and if they know and respect the person asking for the donation.

One general rule for professional fundraisers is to have the "right" person asking the "right person" for the "right" amount of money in the "right" way. Who is the "right" person to ask for a donation from the mother who has been helped with breastfeeding? Might the "right" person be the Leader who helped the mother? Is the mother who has been helped the "right" person to be asked for a donation or might the "right" person be her thankful husband or mother-in-law? Is the "right" way to ask via a general appeal letter or an invitation to a fundraising event such as an LLLI House Party or a World Breastfeeding Week Celebration event? The "right" way may be different for each donor.

While few Leaders see themselves as part of the resource development team, Leaders are doing important work with individual donors by building positive relationships. Every Leader builds relationships with potential donors by helping them learn about breastfeeding.


"Brother can you spare a dime?"

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