From the Annual Report by Lucy Wilson Benson,
President National Council, May 3, 1971
First was the merger of the governing boards of the two organizations, the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters Education Fund. Though they are still two legally distinct organizations, there is now one board of directors, responsible to the members. We have
had, as a result of that, a coordination of all of our educational activities --in voters service, in the League program, and in our special research and projects -- our own "R&D" or what we also call the League's "outreach component."
As a result of this linkup, we have seen increased services of all kinds, in the purely educational area, to the state and local Leagues. In addition, our tax-deductible organization, the Education Fund, has provided a channel
for deductible money raised by local and state Leagues for their own educational projects. All of this has meant a better use of all our resources.
Development Office created
Then there was the experiment by the convention last year. We have moved very carefully, because this is a new area for us. We are trying to develop
new methods of working with and helping state and local Leagues. We have been slaving away at the painstaking job of developing contacts with people who have money or people who know people who have money, the corporations, unions, individuals, and foundations. It is very slow going. This has been an extremely tough year in which to raise money -- you know that.
Action to the fore
We have a real emphasis on action in the state and local Leagues. At the national level we have been working especially on concerted planning, how and when to take action, and what we should do on setting priorities. As you know, that is not easy to do.
We are starting to do specialized guides for action such as the one you received on welfare. The national board is getting pretty good at lobbying, and when we are not actually lobbying on specific legislation, we are up there winning friends and hopefully creating influence. And our new lobbying corps is a thing to behold.
We are beginning to develop a new kind of action throughout the League -- you know this -- litigation. The LWV of Charlotte, the LWV of North Carolina, and the LWVUS were amicus curiae in a desegregation case -- and our case won.
The Nevada League has won two cases. The Illinois League has had a now-famous case on pollution. The Washington League has a case still pending on voting rights and literacy laws. And that is only a smattering, as you well know. Now we have a Ford grant to establish a national litigation office.
Change is continuous
We are changing. We have changed our use of money. And we have raised our sights a great deal. We have changed our methods of fundraising, and if anything was a "radical change", that was. We are undertaking new kinds of action. We have more and more members involved in the work of the League at the national level. So adaptation is going on constantly so that the organization and its members will be able to do what they want to do.
It seems clear to us on the national board that the overwhelming majority of members want to be active. They want to be effective; they want to be involved. They want to get things done in government. They are very practical people. I think we should bring to a halt the debate that has been going on for lo these many years about whether we are an either/or organization, study or action. We must be both.
We have to have information, knowledge and understanding. They are essential to political effectiveness to our accomplishing our goals. Without study -it isn't that we would be just another pressure group, that isn't the important point. The point is we wouldn't know what we were doing, and that
isn't what the LWV is.
Lucy Wilson Benson