When I say “Little Black Dress Initiative” you may say “huh?” or “what?” But Little Black Dress Initiatives are a very cool tradition for Junior League chapters across the globe.
The inaugural Little Black Dress Initiative was launched in 2014 by the Junior League of London. Since then, this iconic event has been replicated by countless Junior League members around the world using social media and word of mouth.
Each year, participants wear one little black dress for five consecutive days to show the limiting effects poverty has on a woman’s choices, resources, and access to professional opportunities. To finish off the look, they include an “Ask Me About My Dress” pin to start conversations.
Little Black Dress initiatives have been going on since 2014, and there have been some truly impressive campaigns. Want to check out our favorites? Here’s the top 9 Little Black Dress Initiatives.
1. Junior League of Tallahassee
The Junior League of Tallahassee worked their partnerships to run a successful LBDI, raising over $20,000 more than their goal for a total of $70,750.
Here are some of their top strategies:
- They highlighted two partnerships with other organizations to show where the donations would be going. This increased their potential audience, and gave them more credibility.
- They shared photos of everyone in their black dresses! Putting a name and a face to the people asking for donations personalized the campaign and inspired more donations.
- They contextualized their appeal to speak to how Covid-19 has effect food insecurity- emphasizing why the Little Black Dress Initiative was needed now more than ever.
2. Junior League of Arlington
The Junior League of Arlington set a reasonable goal and then blew past it by harnessing the power of the community.
Here are the things we love about their campaign:
- Over 20 peer-to-peer fundraisers came together to support the cause. This group didn’t have huge donors dropping 10k, but they did have lots of donors and lots of fundraisers who worked together to turn small donations into a big impact.
- They provided language for their fundraisers to use when creating a donation page.
- They shared a link to the Junior League page about the Little Black Dress Initiative so that donors and fundraisers could learn about where it came from.
3. Junior League of Albany
The Junior League of Albany absolutely destroyed their goal, raising almost 150% their original goal of $12,000.
Here are some of the reasons they were so successful:
- Great use of hashtags. The first thing you see on their page is #JLAdoesLBDI and #AwarenessIsTheNewBlack, hashtags that helped get their content out there.
- They created exciting online content to make fundraisers and donors feel connected during the campaign. That included online activities through their Facebook page, regular announcements and updates, a few special in-person events.
- They built a beautiful template for their fundraisers to use when creating a fundraising page. It included a profile picture and language.
- They did a fantastic job of recognizing their sponsors and donors on Facebook.
4. Junior League of Atlanta
The Junior League of Atlanta raised a whopping $52,000 to support those with generational poverty. How did they do it?
- They used the numbers. In the sidebar of their page they highlighted information about poverty in Atlanta, showing the stark reality of generational poverty.
- They got social! The other highlight on the sidebar of their page was an up to date Twitter feed sharing their latest posts so that fundraisers and donors could learn more and get connected.
- They shared personal stories through videos from their clients and fundraisers to show the impact of what they do. These stories were directly from the people who were impacted.
5. Junior League of the Woodlands
There are lots of things to love about the campaign run by the Junior League of the Woodlands, but we’re going to highlight just a few of our favorites.
- The impact measurement: in addition to sharing a progress bar, the organizers also included the impact by showing how many kids would get food for a weekend. That number is quite impressive!
- They used video to great effect. One of our favorite things about this campaign is that they created a powerful video that didn’t require tons of videography, editing, or footage. With just photos, a good song, and clear captions, they told the story of the Little Black Dress.
- Their graphics were on point! Check out this infographic they shared to show the impact of their work. It’s visually appealing, easy to process, and gives strong statistics to show the importance of what they do.
6. Junior League of the Woodlands (2019)
Junior League of the Woodlands are so great we had to include them twice. This is their 2019 campaign. Notice how much growth they experienced year after year, almost doubling their income. In 2019 they blew past their goal by over $9000, inspiring them to push for more in 2020. Here’s what they did right:
- Video! In 2019 they used a different style of video, but again showed how beneficial it can be to have some watchable content. With a simple cell phone video from someone who had experienced food insecurity, they created a powerful narrative.
- They shared the impact they’d had in the past. In the sidebar, the League shared that they’d donated over $270,000 in support of our community partners and contributed a value of over $1 million in volunteer hours and 1939 community shifts. They showed where the dollars were going.
- They created a feeling of community. Their language was all about joining, helping, and inviting everyone to be a part of what was happening. It created a sense of coming together to work on a problem.
7. Junior League of Columbia
The Junior League of Columbia not only hit their goal, they passed it by $6000. Here’s how:
- A clear description of where the funds are going. They share that “Our community programs focus on basic needs and education – specifically impacting food security, children’s literacy, and career and work readiness for women.”
- The power of peer to peer: 121 participants came together to raise money for this event, and 1396 donors participated. Asking fundraisers to connect with their networks brought together hundreds of people for a powerful response.
8. Junior League of Jacksonville
The Junior League of Jacksonville is a great example of a smaller group that still made big results.
Here are some of our favorite things about their campaign:
- They set a goal that was unique and intentional. They share “This year, we are pushing this goal and hope to raise $14,700 – this is halfway between the federal poverty line for an individual ($12,490) and a household of two ($16,910) as reported by the Department of Health and Human Services.” Your goal can be a part of your story!
- Events! Having a time and place for participants to come together (whether virtually or in-person) is a great way to build a feeling of community and unity.
- Creating a focus: they highlighted that their focus was on food insecurity for this campaign. Although they do other work, it helped donors to have one problem and one solution to focus on.
9. Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties
Last but certainly not least is a campaign from Durham and Orange Counties. Check out their strategies.
- Use a hashtag! They highlighted #LBDI to get more people involved and increase their reach.
- They focused on their own community. By sharing stats like “81% of those receiving food assistance in Durham and Orange Counties don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” they moved the focus to the immediate community.
- They helped to guide their fundraisers by encouraging each participant to include a photo on their fundraising page.
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