You’re changing lives. Lots of them.
Last year, you made it possible for us to help nearly 27 million people from over 200 countries find and understand the law. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Many members of that enormous-but-anonymous audience — including a lot of you — use our materials to help people who have never looked at the LII website and probably never will. And it is out there, on the ground with the helpers that we help, that your contributions are changing lives.
Elsewhere in this newsletter, you can read about Deb Fisher, who uses the LII in her work with Tax-Aide, a program of the AARP Foundation. Tax-Aide helps 2.6 million low- and middle-income Americans, most of them elderly, file their income taxes every year. Deb is one of ten people who develop training materials for Tax-Aide volunteers.
There are many more stories like Deb’s. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day “in the numbers”, looking at what we know about how our site is used. Here are a few of the people and organizations that are helped when you donate to the LII:
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, and over 100 other legal-aid organizations at the local and state level.
Habitat for Humanity.
94 cancer research and treatment facilities.
People wanting to know their eligibility for the Medicare low-income subsidy.
The UNICEF offices in Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan.
United Way of West Virginia (and 57 other chapters).
The Nature Conservancy.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta (and 125 others).
Hundreds of school districts and community colleges.
That’s only a part of it. And even so, it’s not the 3-bullet-point, telegraphic list that a clever professional would use in a newsletter like this. The scope and diversity are important and impressive. When you give to the LII, the impact is transmitted through those who use the site to help others. Your contributions, directly and indirectly, help millions.
Those big numbers — the 27 million in our audience, or the 2.6 million who are helped by Tax-Aide volunteers like Deb — are impressive as hell, but they lose detail. They’re like an aerial photograph of a crowd. We can see that there are a lot of people, and that they tend to cluster around particular needs and issues. Every once in a while, with the help of some of you who are closer to the ground, we can see an individual face or two. In Deb Fisher’s experience, it’s a face that is glowing with gratitude.
It’s a remarkable act of faith on your part. You put contributions in our hands, trusting that we’ll build something people can use to help themselves or help others in ways that neither you nor we will ever know in detail. We try to return that trust by using your money wisely. We describe that process in more detail elsewhere, and I would invite you to look into the details and mail me personally with any questions or comments you might have.
There are other, more dramatic stories to tell and perhaps I’ll do that in some future newsletter. But I personally prefer the story of a few people like you making a hundred little things possible that have meaning for real people — millions of them, all over the world.