WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2018 — The American Bar Association received the Public Affairs Council’s 2018 Grassroots Innovation Award on Wednesday in Orlando for its Legal Aid Defender campaign.
The Legal Aid Defender grassroots campaign was launched on March 17, 2017 in response to President Donald Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation. Constituents were asked to enlist as Legal Aid Defenders by visiting DefendLegalAid.org and creating a baseball-style Legal Aid Defender card. Each card included a personal message for Congress, contact information and a personal photo. The ABA hand-delivered more than 20,000 Legal Aid Defender cards to Congress during ABA Day in Washington the week of April 25, 2017.
The idea to deliver baseball-style cards with verified constituent messages directly to members of Congress was unprecedented. This unique strategy was successful in generating a lot of attention from legal aid advocates and from the lawmakers who received the cards. The campaign was fully branded with a cohesive set of logos, colors, images, and designs incorporated into every tweet, message, and graphic generated by the campaign. The campaign generated more than 8.5 million impressions on Twitter in a six-week period.
By delivering Legal Aid Defender cards directly to members of Congress, the campaign was successful in breaking the barrier that typically exists between constituent messages and members of Congress. No House members offered an amendment to reduce or eliminate Legal Services Corporation funding in the subsequent funding bill for the LSC. This starkly contrasts with the multiple amendments offered over the past dozen years to slash LSC’s appropriations.
The award was accepted by the project coordinator, Jared Hess of the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
The Public Affairs Council is the leading nonpartisan, nonpolitical association for public affairs professionals worldwide. The Public Affairs Council Innovation Awards recognize national leaders in advocacy and political strategy, and recognize outstanding initiatives that showcase creativity, inclusiveness, innovation and organizational relevance.
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