FOR CURRENT & FUTURE MEMBERS
What does a member do? Just about everything. Members fund Associates' Committee grants; they sponsor applications; and they ultimately decide, by way of their vote, which organizations receive grants. Without our members, nothing we do is possible.
What does it mean to "sponsor" an application? Every organization seeking a grant must first find a member (see the "Our Members" page for a current list of members) who is passionate about their cause and encourage that member to sponsor their application. Without a member's sponsorship (which is essentially an endorsement), no organization can submit an application. In that sense, members serve a "gate-keeping" role and open the door to the application process. But each member can sponsor only one application per year, so the number of applications The Associates' Committee receives in any given year will be no larger than the number of members.
How do members vote? Every year, each member gets 1 vote for their annual contribution and 1 vote for every additional member that they refer. Once the application period closes, The Associates' Committee's Board of Directors will review all applications and select 15 finalists. Members will then vote to determine which non-profits among the finalists receive grants. Members can allocate their votes however they please.
Do members interact during the voting period? Yes! It is our hope that the voting period will be interactive and democratic. If you believe in the work that your sponsored non-profit is doing, tell other members why they should vote for that organization! If your sponsored non-profit didn't make it to the final round, ask other members who they sponsored and why. Horse trading is encouraged!
Do members have other opportunities to interact? Absolutely. We strive to make membership in The Associates' Committee a truly beneficial social and professional experience. That is why we will host happy hours and speaking engagements catered exclusively to our members. We will also host an annual gala in each of our five current cities (LA, SF, NYC, DC & Chicago), where we can have some fun and learn more about our grantees. Hopefully, membership in The Associates' Committee will result in many friendships and professional bonds.
Why is membership limited to "Big Law" attorneys? One of our central aims in forming The Associates' Committee was to influence the culture of America's largest and/or most influential law firms. We want to encourage more philanthropy and civic engagement among young corporate lawyers in the hope that they will bring those values with them as they go on to form the next generation of leaders in the legal community. In that sense, "Big Law" is a target market for us. We have therefore decided to limit membership to associates at those firms falling within that loosely-defined category.
How can I become a member? Becoming a member is easy! Simply fill out this short form. All members make an annual contribution of $1,000, every penny of which will be passed on to a legal aid or impact litigation non-profit in the form of a grant.
Will my contribution be tax-deductible? Yes! The Associates' Committee is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
What happens if I leave my firm? Members that are promoted to partner or accept an opportunity outside of their firm will remain full members (with sponsorship & voting rights) for the duration of the year they joined The Associates' Committee. However, in the year that follows, they will only be able to renew their membership at the "Alumni" level. Alumni Members contribute $500 annually and retain the ability to sponsor organizations; however, only full members will be able to cast votes for the final grantees.
FOR GRANT APPLICANTS
Who is eligible to apply? The Associates' Committee accepts grant applications nonprofit organizations whose primary purpose is the provision of legal aid. The Associates' Committee is particularly interested in supporting early-stage non-profits that use innovative approaches to tackle systemic legal problems. However, we will also consider applications from more established organizations that seek funding for new and innovative initiatives. Note that only those organizations that find a member to sponsor their application may apply.
What kinds of projects do you fund? We aim to fund innovative approaches to entrenched legal problems. That may mean we are providing what amounts to "seed money" to get a new non-profit off the ground, or it may mean we are helping support a more established organization test a pilot program. Either way, applicants should be as specific as possible about the project for which they seek funding - and they should tell us why it is innovative. We do NOT seek to contribute funds to your general budget. Innovation and specificity carry the day in our application process.
Must my organization be based in a city where members are located? No. While The Associates' Committee currently limits membership to certain major legal markets, there is no such limitation on the location of our applicants.
How do I find a sponsor? No organization can apply for a grant from The Associates' Committee unless a member has agreed to sponsor that organization's application. If a member's name is hyperlinked on our members page, you may email them directly and ask if they would be willing to sponsor your application. If there is no hyperlink, please do not contact that member. Your member-sponsor need not come from the city where your organization (or the project from which you seek funding) - however, proximity may increase a member's interest in sponsoring your application, so we recommend that you start with those who are closest geographically. Finally, please note that each organization/applicant is limited to one sponsor only. Therefore, once a member has agreed to sponsor your application, there is no reason to continue contacting other members.)
What is the timeline for applying? The 2019 application is now open and will close on July 31, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. PT. We plan to announce grant recipients on or before September 20, 2019, and distribute grants beginning in late November.
What does the application consist of? Each applicant will be required to submit one 60-second video shot on a smart phone. In the video, you must tell us what your organization does, how much funding you seek ($25,000, $50,000 or $75,000), and how you will use it (see the next question for more on this). You may also submit up to three links that will allow viewers to learn more about your organization and why its work is important. In addition, you will be required to submit a one-page budget proposal, the template for which you can obtain from your member-sponsor as of March 31. If your organization is selected as a finalist, we will ask you to submit additional information.
Can you describe the evaluation process? Once the application period closes, The Associates' Committee's Board of Directors will review all applications and select the 15 most innovative and promising organizations/projects as finalists. Members will then vote to determine who among the finalists receives grants. Members can allocate their votes however they please. Each member gets 1 vote for their annual contribution, 1 vote for any and all additional members that they refer, and 10 votes if they convince their firm to become a "Matching Firm" (meaning that the firm matches the sum of all of its associates' contributions).
How many grants will The Associates' Committee award? The number of grants available in any given year will be a product of the size of our membership.