We’ve got a lot of work to do. Here’s the good news: we in the nonprofit sector have hard work in our bones and, as we emerge from this fraught election season, we have real clarity about the work to be done. After all, for a democracy to thrive, it needs healthy and engaged citizens. And we’re in the healthy and engaged citizens business. So where do we go from here? Predictions abound, but here are a few concrete ideas that seem certain to have merit in the coming years:
Expand our networks – The issues we tackle, from economic opportunity to women’s health and safety to climate change – affect everyone. Young and old, working or middle class, black or white, gay or straight, rural or urban. So it’s our job to cast a wide net. Find ways to listen and engage citizens beyond our usual audiences. Let’s be even more inclusive. And search always for common ground.
Shore up our Governance – Nonprofit boards are at their best when they are looking ahead, assessing the changing environment and planning for the future. Particularly in times of potential disruption – from policy changes to shifting funding climates that inevitably create new challenges for those we serve. Take time as board leaders to consider how resilient your organization is and what steps it needs to take to be responsive and mission-focused in the face of change.
Elevate our Advocacy – The nonprofit sector, and the people who power and support its work, are by definition advocates. Nonprofits are created with a vision for what the world could and should be. We must activate the advocate in all of us to reach harder for a world that is inclusive, diverse, tolerant, respectful and against bigotry and hatred. And add to that, for policies at the local, state or federal level that protect disadvantaged people and promote equal opportunity even, or perhaps especially, when such policies are not directly within our mission.
If you have other thoughts about how the nonprofit community can bring us together, share them with us either via email or social media with the hashtag #CNEstrong.
When I worry about what’s next, I remember who’s next: my 14-year old daughter. She volunteered like crazy to get the first woman president elected this fall. When she woke up to learn her candidate wasn’t chosen, the first words out of her mouth were: “In the next election I get to vote.” Because, really, it’s all about showing up.
Thanks to you for showing up every day to improve the quality of life for all in our community. You inspire me.