By Thomas A. Brophy, president emeritus at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C., and president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.
For many years, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation has organized an annual gathering with the purpose of fundraising from Philadelphia’s legal community. In 1980, the first Andrew Hamilton Ball was held in the fall as a formal event. The Ball had many themes over the years, including The Radiance of Giving, Renaissance Magic, Dream the Impossible Dream, and In Omnibus Caritas. Through those years, it remained our main source of funding. The Bar Foundation added a golf (and, later, tennis) outing in 1989, offering a new event experience for our supporters.
In 2016, a dedicated committee researched and presented their findings on advocating for the removal of Hamilton’s name from the Bar Foundation’s event. That year, the fundraising benefit took place as the Access to Justice Benefit and remained as a Saturday night center-stage event in 2017 as well. Through sponsorship, individual donations and a silent and live auction at the 2017 Access to Justice Benefit, the legal community generously demonstrated their support of the Bar Foundation’s mission.
Of the 39 civil legal aid Nonprofit Partner organizations that received grants from the Bar Foundation in 2017, many hold annual galas, benefits, or other large fundraising events themselves. Some hold special 5K fundraisers or their own golf outing. As business professionals, we have many opportunities to connect with these organizations and show support.
As I mentioned recently in my June 2018 column, this year we are taking a new approach to fundraising to meet the needs of legal service organizations in Philadelphia: A Unified Approach to Giving. Unified Giving is an annual, one-time financial gift from a law firm (or other company) that provides sustenance to support our work and replaces the need for multiple event sponsorship requests from the Philadelphia Bar Foundation throughout the year. As a result of this new approach, our annual benefit event is changing too.
Because of the generous support of our 2018 Unified Giving firms, we are offering complimentary attendance at our Access to Justice celebration and awards reception. On Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 5:30 p.m., our traditional Access to Justice benefit will transform into a celebration to honor your robust contributions, and the outstanding achievements of pro bono and public interest lawyers among us. We will gather to recognize our supporters and show our appreciation and to celebrate the recipients of our 2018 Pro Bono Award, Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award, and Trailblazers for Justice Award.
Many of you, as individuals and through your law firms, have already committed to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation in 2018, and we are truly appreciative. We will continue our outreach to firms for Unified Giving through the year to secure the commitments needed for our mission of promoting equal access to justice.
2018 brings new and exciting changes to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, and to our reimagined annual event. We hope your organization will consider a Unified Approach to Giving and that you will join us on November 8. Thank you for serving the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s mission and supporting our civil legal aid Nonprofit Partners.