The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund Annual Report 2019-2020

We envision a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge, and the confidence to participate.

The League believes in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy.

Board of Directors
President, Lunell Haught
1st Vice President, Susan Fleming
2nd Vice President, Amanda Clark
Secretary, Jean Snider
Treasurer, Myra Howrey

Director Portfolios
Civic Education, Beverly Austin
Membership Education Leadership Development, Linda Benson
Voter Services, Mary Coltrane
(c)(4) Treasurer, Joanna Cullen
Fundraising/Development, Donna Dekkert Fontaine
Communications, Lea Galanter
Advocacy, Joan Lawson

Highlights

The League of Women Voters of Washington has 19 local Leagues plus two units-at-large that are home to 2,400 members.

The most noticeable projects undertaken have been public education through forums, debates, the publication Your Vote (a special newspaper section produced with The Spokesman-Review), and the development of the latest edition of the civics textbook, The State We’re In: Washington, for middle school grades. Internally, the League addresses and emphasizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in various ways within the local Leagues, which is reinforced through the Membership Education and Leadership Development (MELD) network.

Briefly, the LWVWA Education Fund is providing more public information through work with print and electronic media, and local League members are engaging more in areas of mutual interest. The local Leagues are resources for each other, which is a conscious strategy to strengthen capacity. Members have a greater understanding of the League at the local, state, and national levels, which will provide greater awareness of leadership opportunities and deepen understanding of member interest.

Financial Statement

The two-year budget includes $130,597 income and $135,120 in expenses. The apparent deficit is due to a lag in grant receipts and transfers from the endowment fund for special grants to local Leagues.

Portfolios

The LWVWA Education Fund Board of Directors includes specialties (portfolios) in addition to general board responsibilities. Activity in each area is summarized below.

Civics Education

The goal of Civics Education is to ensure all ages have an understanding and appreciation for civic life, resulting in community engagement as well as voting. The development of an updated text for elementary schools, The State We’re In: Washington, is well on its way to publication. It is primarily being funded through a grant from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The high school text of the same name is now being used for the newly required civics education graduation requirement. This entails an ongoing engagement with educators throughout the state, and the League is fortunate to have a committee and individuals who champion this cause. A statewide education committee also addresses in-school and adult civic education. The LWVWA Education Fund is a member of the Civic Learning Council. The online version of the textbook is published in five languages.

The LWV of the United States granted funds for a redistricting project that provided programs on Washington’s Redistricting Committee and how it affects voters.

Communication

The goal of the Communications portfolio is to develop a robust external League communications plan that local Leagues can align with. The LWVWA Education Fund has revised This Week In League (now This Month in the League) and The VOTER into monthly electronic newsletters, with social media forming an increasingly important part of communications to members and the public.

Council

The LWVWA Council and the LWVUS Convention occur in alternate years. This year the Council switched from a physical hotel location hosting about 60 members to a virtual event (via Zoom) where 250 members engaged with presenters and each other. It strengthened the ability of all attendees to carry out the League goals and positions, increasing the confidence, trust, and collegial interactions among League attendees. A unique feature of the program allowed participants to host their own session, and those with similar interests could join in for conversation and creativity. Based on the evaluations, it was a great success, with 50 presenters and more than a dozen volunteer technical people to problem-solve during the week-long event. Guests from the LWVUS included Celina Stewart, Senior Director of Advocacy and Litigation, and Jessica Jones Capparell, Policy and Legislative Affairs Senior Manager, who kept the audience enthralled with stories about the many cases they had taken to court to ensure voter access and inspire members with possibilities for democracy.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The purpose of the DEI effort is to increase the breadth and depth of all types of diversity in League. The challenge the League has taken is to create ways to achieve equity in democracy. The DEI portfolio includes a group focused on how to improve DEI understanding among individual members and the League and how to develop relationships with organizations with goals similar to ours. Each League will have a different interest in this work, with the state organization supporting local efforts.

Fundraising and Development/Finances

The goal of the Fundraising portfolio is to generate sufficient resources to fund programs, and this year the LWVWA was able to invest more in technology due to reduced travel expenses. We are grateful for the grants we received, one from OSPI for the development of The State We’re In: Washington text and another from the Wyncote Foundation honor of a League member. The League is pleased to have this support and grateful that expenditures from these grants support the donor’s wishes.

The League’s electronic and mail fundraising efforts were modestly successful. We are grateful to the members who continue to pay their own expenses for League activities and volunteer thousands of hours in service to democracy. The most fun fundraiser was the sale of LWV/Vote masks for outings during COVID-19 requirements.

This year, the LWVWA and the LWVWA Education Fund underwent a financial review by a CPA. He congratulated the League on the condition of its accounting books and documentation (even though everything was not on a spreadsheet). He will be filing the Form 990 for both organizations, revised the bookkeeping software, and trained the treasurers to use it so financial statements will be easier to assemble and read.

A Finance Committee was appointed to review the LWVWA/Education Fund’s practices, policies, and procedures; the committee concluded there was nothing to change. This was after the improvements made by the CPA.

The Investment Committee continues to invest conservatively and is receiving an appropriate rate of return on funds.

Membership Education and Leadership Development

The local Leagues are divided into five groups of about four Leagues each. One member from each local league meets with a MELD facilitator and a board liaison every month to discuss successes and challenges they have. This is another way (in addition to the president’s calls, the TWIL/VOTER, and topic networks) to connect local Leagues with each other and the state board. It also increases understanding of the relationships among national, state, and local Leagues. Training is available through this network, as well as through the LWVWA’s memberships in Washington Nonprofits and BoardSource.

Voter Services

This has been a demanding year for the state Debate Steering Committee. The statewide races have entailed more scheduling and participation challenges than we have seen before, including the reluctance of some candidates to participate in forums or debates, which we also saw in local races. The League partnered with The Spokesman-Review, most of the state newspapers, KHQ, TVW, and KSPS to present debates which, when they occurred, were well produced and had high viewership. These media relationships have proven valuable and strategic. The Vote tabloid, also available online, was produced in conjunction with The Spokesman-Review and more than 20,000 copies were made available to libraries, schools, and meeting places throughout the state.

VOTE411, a national program, continues to be well used and continues to have challenges in terms of receiving responses from candidates.

Local leagues have done an excellent job making creative videos about voting, sending postcards to registered voters who haven’t voted lately, texting voters, and registering high school students, among other things. Several Leagues have groups of young people messaging voting encouragements and directions to each other. The support that local Leagues receive from the state is frequently the result of funds that flow to them for voter-specific activities.

Administration/Personnel

The goal is to ensure administrative practices that facilitate the work of the LWVWA/Education Fund in achieving its mission. A lot of organizational structures and systems have been developed, ensuring effectiveness. With a donation of Office 365, most of the state and local leaders are now connected through this system, and trainings have been consistently appreciated. Migrating files from Dropbox is almost complete. This should help coordinate local and state activities to avoid duplication and ensure wise use of resources. Hundreds of LWVWA members are now capable users of Zoom, which has led to many statewide meetings and presentations on various subjects.

The LWVWA website is the next thing to address in terms of updating, but many resources are now available to members, including an orientation video for new members.

This year saw a return to the portfolio concept in which board members focused on and developed a specific area, which has gone extremely well. Not only have roles been clarified, the creation of member networks with similar interests sharing successes and challenges has been gratifying, according to a board member self-report. The report also identified appreciation for the level of follow-through, taking responsibility, and being effective fiduciaries. Not on the board, but available to them, are former board members, who freely provide guidance, thinking partnerships, wisdom, and confidence.

Local League Projects

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and the League of Women Voters, local Leagues engaged their communities in the Centennial in many ways. Many events had to be postponed, and some were held with social distancing in mind, such as car parades. Following are some of the local events and programs that occurred in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

    • Ahead of the Curve (co-sponsorship with the Secretary of State’s office)
    • Bellingham-Whatcom County
      • Event with Elaine Weiss, author of The Women’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote
      • 2020 Centennial Calendars created and sold
      • Election outreach plan
    • Benton-Franklin Counties high school essay contests and video production on suffrage/vote
    • Kitsap County
      • Voter service forums and voter registration
      • Voter buttons created for events
      • Public meetings on a variety of topics of interest
    • Kittitas County’s “Remote the Vote” countywide project
    • Skagit County sponsored a theater production of Voices of the Homeless
    • Snohomish County
      • Applied DEI Discovery Project, interviewing members related to diversity
      • Radio theater member-written suffrage play
    • Spokane Area donated copies of The State We’re In: Washington to the Spokane School District
    • Thurston County
      • Voter Service—community voter registration events
      • Forums
      • Public meetings on a variety of topics of public interest
      • Water study Update
      • Census and redistricting event
    • Yakima County
      • Put up a 2020 Census street banner in downtown Yakima in May
      • Spanish interpreter for City Council Candidate Forum

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

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