How could the Iowa State Bar Association (ISBA) educate and convince its statewide members that it was necessary to have a building to call their own? By educating its members of the need, which in turn raised more than $3 million for the purchase and renovation of a historic building located within a few blocks of both the Iowa State Judicial Building and Iowa State Capitol.
In 2006, ISBA hired Amperage Fundraising Advisers as campaign consultant and formed a steering committee made up of past presidents of the association and other leading members. They hoped to convert a 102-year-old freight warehouse into their new headquarters in the East Village neighborhood of Des Moines. This new building would also become a resource for visiting lawyers—a “home away from home.”
Working with the steering committee and members of ISBA’s board of governors throughout the state, Amperage provided campaign management and strategy that included the cultivation of gifts from members and vendors. Strategies involved personal solicitation to individuals and law firms; updating the ISBA’s website; and sending direct mail and mass emails.
Amperage wrote monthly articles for the Iowa Lawyer Magazine to spark interest and grab the attention of attorneys statewide; to invite new gifts; as well as to recognize and thank previous donors. Amperage developed the campaign slogan, “Raise the Bar,” and an accompanying “Gav-o-meter” in the shape of a gavel to gauge the fundraising progress.
Room-naming opportunities appealed to law firms and individual attorneys alike, sparking friendly competition while providing attorneys opportunities to publicize their practices and firms. Amperage generated and produced a Telly-Award winning animated video, which explained the need for a new building, the benefits it would offer and what the new facility would look like when all the renovations were completed.
The ISBA successfully exceeded its $3 million goal and moved into a state-of the-art building sooner than expected.
The new headquarters represents a unique part of Des Moines history, having previously served as everything from a railway depot to a restaurant. The historic charm of the original wooden beams, rafters and walls of the existing structure were retained. This enabled the organization to secure a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The building has become a source of pride to all ISBA lawyers.
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