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Mixing Causes or Not?

Joan Peloso
Plantation, Florida, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 3, June-July 1999, p. 69-70

As Leaders, we encourage mothers to learn through their mothering. In turn, through our experiences with LLL, we expand our own horizons. For some Leaders, our interests develop into involvement with another nonprofit organization or a home business. How can we continue to be involved as volunteers in an organization to which we are so committed while at the same time pursue other interests without mixing causes?

Many questions come to mind. Can a Leader refer a breast pump rental client to herself? What if she knows that the other rental stations are out of pumps and the mother really needs one? What does a Group Leader who is employed as a lactation consultant do when a mother at a Series Meeting says, "Seeing Lucy Leader as a lactation consultant helped me a lot!" Can the Leader then tell the Group about her lactation consultant business? If the nearest lactation consultant is 40 miles (64 kilometers) away, can the Leader/lactation consultant refer mothers to herself? What if a mother knows a Leader sells kitchen products or children's toys and asks for a sales catalog at the meeting? When discussing childbirth and its effect on breastfeeding, can a Leader say that she is a childbirth instructor with a certain organization?

The LLLI policy on not mixing causes or promoting drives, products, political activities and or businesses was published in "Report from the Board" LEAVEN July/August 1994, page 52. In part it reads,

LLL Groups are not to be used as a forum for a Leader's non-LLL interests or to do the work of organizations other than LLL. Leaders may not use their Leader status for commercial gain derived from non-LLL activities or to promote their personal non-LLL interests.LLLI Policies and Standing Rules, Appendix 10

What does this mean in practical terms? How can the Leader act in accordance with LLLI policy and still pursue other interests? What can we do to prevent mothers from being confused by these situations? "Guidelines for Active Leaders Who Also Work as Paid Lactation Consultants," LEAVEN May/June 1990, pages 39-41, give several guidelines. You may want to read the entire article. A few key points are worth repeating here.

An active Leader who is also a lactation consultant does not make referrals to herself for pay. When a Leader accepts an LLL-referred phone call, she is expected to help the mother to her fullest capability without charge. If that particular situation requires more time or extra care after the phone call, the volunteer Leader still does not charge for her services, even if she is the only paid lactation consultant in the community. If referrals are received from professionals in the community, a Leader/lactation consultant needs to decide if a call is an LLL or lactation consultant call. In this case she may want to install a second phone line for business calls or refrain from accepting LLL phone calls. Another option is to spend time at the beginning of the conversation to determine in which capacity the contact was made, then help the mother to the best of her ability in that role.

If the mother needs to be seen in person or needs extended help beyond the usual telephone call, the Leader can make a personal visit to the mother's home or hospital or invite the mother to the Leader's home. If a Leader doses not wish to make home visits, she can refer the mother to a Leader who does. It is not appropriate to offer LLL phone help and then charge as a lactation consultant for a visit. Such cases can be referred to another lactation consultant if a Leader who does home visits is not available.

One reason it is not appropriate to offer LLL phone help and then charge as a lactation consultant is that we want to preserve the special relationship created when a mother contacts an LLL Leader. As Leaders, we are in a unique position: we choose to give of our time and expertise. Because what we gain through this relationship is something other than money, we build a special peer relationship with a mother.

If a mother is referred to an LLL Leader and needs the services of a breast pump rental station, a Leader who runs one may rent her a pump. The mother can expect to pay the rental fees no matter where she gets a pump; however, the help she receives from an LLL Leader is given as a volunteer. Therefore, no service charge may be added to the rental fee.

An active Leader who is also a lactation consultant cannot advertise herself as a lactation consultant on LLL phone recordings. An LLL phone number is any number that is listed in a phone directory under "LLL" or paid for with LLL funds. For many of us, it is the residential line that is listed in the Area Directory or Group information sheet and given out for LLL purposes. When a mother calls, we want to be sure it is clear to her that she has reached LLL, an organization providing volunteer support and information in her community. This means that mothers needing LLL help may not be referred to telephone lines that have answering services or machines that advertise lactation consultant services. In order to avoid confusion it would be wise for a Leader/lactation consultant to have a separate line for business purposes. This also makes it easier for her to record the calls in separate phone logs.

The advertising of individual businesses or services is not allowed at La Leche League meetings. This means arrangements need to be made to show business catalogs, return rental breast pumps, discuss enrollment in childbirth classes, etc., at some other time and place away from the meeting location. Business cards may not be passed out at any time before or during the meeting because Leaders act only on behalf of LLL during an LLL meeting. The Sign-up sheet may not be used for business contact purposes (by a Leader or a mother); a Leader cannot sign in at meetings with designations other than LLL Leader nor should a mother sign in with a business affiliation.

So, what do we do when our outside business or interest is mentioned at a meeting? One of the main responsibilities of Leaders at meetings is to guide the discussion. The LEADER’S HANDBOOK, 1999 edition, states on page 65,

When a topic that has nothing to do with LLL objectives is brought up, have a ready-made statement that LLL has a primary purpose: breastfeeding information and support. As an organization, LLL is neither for nor against any other cause. Our goal is solely to offer information and support to women who want to nurse their babies. Empathize with the mother's feelings and proceed with the regular discussion.

This works well for interests other than breastfeeding. When outside business concerns such as lactation consultant services come up at a meeting, the Leader may reply that she is representing LLL as a volunteer Leader at the meeting. She can then re-focus the conversation according to the meeting plan.

Does LLL support Leaders as they expand their horizons? The answer is a resounding yes. Can we balance other interests and LLL while remaining effective Leaders? Yes again.

If you have a specific question regarding mixing causes, please contact your District Advisor/Coordinator for further clarification. She has many resources at her fingertips and will help you find an answer.

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