To ensure their vitality for the future, member-based organizations like the League of Women Voters must invest in themselves even as they continue to focus on the important work at hand.

The League does this through our Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) Program which helps local Leagues connect with their communities and become thriving, growing Leagues that can make (and have been making!) a big impact on our democracy.

Hundreds of local and state League leaders in 41 states have already participated and over 150 League leaders are serving as volunteer coaches to support League growth.  This short video shows how important the coaches are to the success of the MLD.

We’ll add the final nine states in 2013, so that the MLD will be in all 50 states! Of course, with this incredible expansion comes an increased demand on our precious and limited resources.

Last month at the League’s National Convention in Washington, DC, we launched the Fund for Local League Growth, which directly supports the MLD Program.

We challenged the 800 Convention Delegates in attendance to invest in the future of the League, and by the end of our four-day Convention they had donated 240% of the original goal!

My colleagues and I were in awe of the excitement – and generosity – of the delegates as they came up to our tables to make their donations and receive their “Growing the League for My Community” pins.

What an exciting way to kick off a summer of Membership and Leadership Development trainings across the country!

Since Convention, our National membership staff and National Shur Fellow Coaches have been on the road working with state coaches and training hundreds of local and state League leaders in Minnesota, Iowa, Florida and Texas. Next they’re off to Washington, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois and Oregon.

One thing is clear: even during a busy presidential election year, League members are deeply committed to investing in themselves to strengthen their voice in a time when it is needed most.