Dancing with the Stars-style event gives volunteer fundraisers the tools to succeed

by Ashley Kasprzak, JVA Consulting

Many of my family members are attorneys and like to dress well—especially if they have an important client meeting or a trial. Putting on a nice suit is just one small element to “suiting up.” It’s also necessary to be highly prepared and have a strong argument. Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) recently transferred their expertise of “suiting up” to fundraising for their organization. The Denver Bar Association annually hosts the Barristers Benefit Ball to benefit  MVL. This year, the eventthemed Dancing with Bar Stars for MVL, a takeoff on the popular ABC show, was taken to a new level. The Barrister’s Benefit Ball Committee beautifully suited up four local lawyers (two women and two men) to compete in a Dancing with the Stars-style dance competition at the event to fundraise for MVL. Just like in the TV version, the lawyers were partnered with professional dancers and had to learn how to dance in just a few weeks.

Dianne Van Voorhees, MVL executive director, provided the brave lawyers with information about MVL, a clear understanding of the community need for civil legal assistance, and individual profile pages through GivingFirst to raise money for their dance team. An online resource, GivingFirst.org, features hundreds of Colorado charities and promotes philanthropy throughout Colorado.

By clicking on the links below, you can see the MVL volunteers in action (and the results are pretty entertaining!): CyndyCiancio: Dancing With the Bar Stars for MVL – Cyndy Ciancio •   John Moye: Dancing With the Bar Stars for MVL – John Moye •   Vicki: Dancing With the Bar Stars for MVL – Victoria Johnson •   Hubert Farbes: Dancing With the Bar Stars for MVL – Hubert Farbes, Jr..

As dancers and fundraising champions, the volunteers created high energy about MVL and raised over  $14,000.00 to fulfill MVL’s mission to bridge the gap in access to justice by coordinating the provision of pro bono legal services by volunteer lawyers within the Denver Metro Area. MVL offers services to people who could not otherwise afford assistance with their civil legal issues.

Individual fundraising pages are a fast-growing trend nationwide. With video, photos, testimonials about why they believe in MLV’s cause and targeted outreach to friends, family and colleagues, the event was a great fundraisings success. Even after Dancing with the Bar Stars event, MVL volunteer pages are still active and accepting donations.

  • Dianne said that with the helpful expertise of her colleague, Alli Gerkman from  Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Inc. (CLE) who volunteered to help provide a primer and example of an individual fundraising page, she was able  to make it easy for the MVL volunteers to  personalize their fundraising pages. She created the pages and offered to help the dancers to update their pages with video and personal messages as the dance training progressed. One volunteer originally set his fundraising goal at $1,000 and then realized there was such buzz around the event that he kept increasing his goal. Dianne said that the committee members and the DBA staff worked together to equip and empower the volunteers to do their job well. She said, “The outcome was fantastic, and we are definitely considering doing it again next year. Without our ambassadors we never could have achieved this level of fundraising.” This year was the first time that the event sold out with over 700 people in attendance. Chairpersons of the event planning committee were DBA’s President Elect, Ilene Bloom and MaryBeth Soebel.

At JVA, we train board members and staff to draw upon people in their circles of influence to increase support for their organizations’ missions. By using fundraising pages, you can suit up your volunteers for fundraising success. The Barristers Benefit Ball committee and MVL even made the sometimes tedious task of fundraising exciting and fun. It’s an example we can all learn from.


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