ALA students can earn a maximum of five credits through webinars, though students are welcome to view as many as they choose.

This webinar originally aired on June 23rd, 2016

There are many ways to fund a think tank's efforts; we've explored several through proposal writing and grassroots outreach. In this webinar, we'll discuss an often overlooked but growing option for fundraising: Legacy Programs. These programs allow donors to leave support for your organization in their end-of-life planning, and to invest in the future growth of your organization.

Developing these programs can be tricky to navigate. Melanie Hildreth of the Institute for Justice (IJ) has developed a program that has provided mutual benefits to both IJ and the supporters of its work. Hildreth says the three key elements of a successful program are consistency, record keeping, and follow through — and she'll go into more detail about these during this webinar.

This method of fundraising has been successful in the United States. Established think tanks operating in North America with successful existing fundraising efforts will likely have the most to gain from this webinar.

Hildreth works closely with key programs of IJ to ensure that it has the kind of resources necessary to succeed in all the areas where IJ operates, from litigation and communications to activism and strategic research. She contributes actively to the development and implementation of strategic efforts throughout the organization and is an integral part of maintaining IJ’s recognized stellar fiscal responsibility, which has earned Charity Navigator’s highest “4-star” rating for 14 consecutive years.

Hildreth oversees institutional relationships with major supporters, traveling to meet with IJ’s top-tier donors and prospects and ensuring that their investment is recognized and results are reported to them, and she coordinates efforts with other senior staff to build IJ’s relationships with its base of support. Hildreth initiated and directs IJ’s Four Pillars Society, which recognizes supporters who have included IJ in their estate plans; the society has grown from 17 members to more than 250. She also helps manage and develop the professionalism of IJ’s development team and conducts professional presentations on nonprofit development, planned giving, and donor relations.

Hildreth joined IJ in 2005. Previously, she worked in development at the Bill of Rights Institute in Arlington, Va. She graduated summa cum laude from DePauw University with a degree in philosophy and lives in northern Virginia with her husband Jeff and their three children.