Firm Coordinator … Easy As 1, 2, 3
So we’ve got you hooked — or at least a little bit interested — in serving as your office’s Firm Coordinator. Great! Just read some of the following suggestions and remember that being a Firm Coordinator is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
I. Getting Started
First, you should check to see if your office already has a Firm Coordinator. If they do, volunteer to help this person. Believe us, they’ll be grateful for any extra help!
Second, you should get permission from the powers-that-be to hold a GFTH campaign at your office. Feel free to print any material from our web page to aid in your presentation. Also, feel free to put your office in contact with GFTH if you believe we can be of some assistance. Two excellent resources are our President, Carol Weiser and our Vice President for External Affairs, Larry Williams.
Third, contact us and let us know that your office will be joining our campaign this year — we’ll be glad to have you on board! You should let us know by contacting our President, Carol Weiser. Once you’ve contacted us, we’ll put you on our list as the Firm Coordinator and will send you a packet of information containing all you’ll need organize your office’s campaign. (This information may also be downloaded from our website as well).
II. Organizing the Campaign
Once you’ve reviewed the Firm Coordinator packet — or ideally even before — you should consider how you’d inform your office of the upcoming GFTH campaign. While the Firm Coordinator packet contains sample memos, you can also draft one tailored to the needs and culture of your office. If allowed at your firm, use of e-mail is often a very easy and effective way to reach everyone. In the past, we’ve found the most effective memos tend to include all of the necessary information, be light-hearted or even humorous, and have a level of creativity — something as simple as using colored paper — that lets them stand out from the other memos or e-mail that get circulated. We’ve also found some key selling points that tend to increase participation. As you might guess, there are three:
GFTH is run entirely by the Washington legal community. Because GFTH has no overhead, every dollar contributed goes towards purchasing clothes for the homeless. All contributions are tax deductible.
Finally, regarding the timing, its usually best to send out a memo in early November announcing the campaign with a follow-up sometime close to the used clothing drive.
Next you’ll want to consider some of the nuts-and-bolts issues associated with your office’s campaign. These include things like finding a large closet or empty office or case room to store the mountains of clothes you will be receiving and figuring out how you will deliver the clothes to the used clothing drive site the Friday before the drive.
Finally, if you have any energy left, you might consider organizing an office event, contest, or theme around the used clothing drive and/or the new clothing drive. An event need not be elaborate to go a long way towards increasing participation and making the campaign a great deal more fun. Several events that are easy to organize and have proven effective in the past are:
Contests between floors or practice groups to see who can donate the most clothes or money. An office potluck lunch where the price of admission is a donation. Tying the GFTH campaign to an event or theme at the office holiday party. A sorting party to sort, bag, and label the used clothes that have been donated.
III. Clothes, Cash and Caring People
Ultimately, your goal as a Firm Coordinator is to muster from your office the three things GFTH needs to have a successful campaign: used clothes to donate to homeless shelters, cash to purchase new clothes and caring people willing volunteer to sort clothes and deliver them to shelters. Here is a brief word about each:
Clothes – While GFTH gets literally thousands of bags of used clothes each year and meets many of the requests of our homeless shelters, we consistently have a shortage of men’s clothes. Thus, in your memos and other communications we ask that you emphasize the need for men’s clothes.
Cash – One thing that always impresses people is how efficiently GFTH uses donations to maximize the amount of new clothes we can purchase. Not only do we have no overhead, so every dollar donated goes to purchasing clothes, but because we buy in bulk we can get clothes at a discounted price. In your Firm Coordinator packet, you will receive examples of how much donations of $25, $50, or $100 dollars purchases. This can be a very persuasive tool as you ask for donations.
Volunteers – One of the terrific aspects of GFTH is how good you feel participating in it, and nowhere is this more true then during the clothing drive. As you ask people to volunteer their time, remind them that this is a festive event with music, friendly faces, food and refreshments, and full of the spirit of helping. And while you will almost certainly leave a little sore from all the heavy lifting you will also leave in high sprits.