It’s no secret that Junior Leagues of all sizes have raised millions and millions of dollars to support the organizations and institutions that contribute so much to their communities’ wellbeing and civic culture.

Fitting squarely within that tradition is the $1.25-million, five-year commitment of the Junior League of Birmingham to One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center in support of its mission to provide coordinated services under one roof to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

But one of the things that makes JLB’s initiative stand out – at least in terms of development techniques – is how the League is going about raising the money to support One Place Metro’s mission…and how, at the same time, the fundraising process itself is designed to become an important tool in creating broader awareness in the Birmingham community about JLB’s own mission and its positive impact on Birmingham for the last 95 years.

Here’s how.

JLB has just announced its Community of Lights centennial campaign, which is designed to raise at least $1.25 million by 2022, its centennial year.

The campaign will recruit 20 leading members from all walks of life in Birmingham as “torchbearers” for the Community of Lights campaign every year for the next five years.

The torchbearers will commit to raising a minimum of $10,000 in their year from their own network of contacts.

The torchbearers choose to whom they will pass their torch the next year, thereby exponentially increasing the reach of their own light.

Rather than rely on its own members to raise the funds, only four of the first torchbearer team have been JLB members.

And rather than seek donors who can write checks for the full $10,000 (or more), JLB has specifically asked the torchbearers to cast as wide a net as they can to raising that total – in increments of $10 beginning with $10 – but, in doing so, to tie the solicitation to creating awareness of what the League has done for the community for decades, and why it’s so relevant today.

The torchbearers live up to that name in how they speak to potential donors about JLB’s importance to the Birmingham community. A great example is Tracey Morant Adams, Executive Vice President and Chief Community Development and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer for Renasant Bank, who says: “I decided to serve as a torchbearer for the JLB because I believe in the organization’s mission to improve the lives of women and children. Further, the Junior League has continued to offer an incredible level of support in the revitalization of Birmingham through its many philanthropic efforts.”

Fundraising innovation aside, JLB’s commitment to One Place Metro is also a validation of the larger Mission of The Junior League since 1901 – to address the needs of at-risk women and children.

Torchbearer Joyce White Vance, a former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama during the administration of President Obama, speaks to the importance of having an organization like One Place Metro in Birmingham: “Domestic violence and sexual abuse are at the heart of so many of the problems children and adults face in our community. Providing a safe and effective space for dealing with the many different issues that arise for victims is critical in dealing with them.”

One Place Metro uses a model developed 15 years ago by the San Diego Family Justice Center that is designed to remove many of the barriers to victims reporting domestic violence and sexual assault. Rather than requiring victims to tell their stories again and again – first to police, then to courts, legal aid, housing, social services and more – One Place Metro puts representatives of all of those agencies under one roof. That model, advocates say, has led to reduced homicides, increased victim safety, increased autonomy and empowerment for victims, reduced fear and anxiety for victims and their children, increased efficiency and coordination among service providers, and reduced recantation and minimization by victims.