It has been about one week since the American people headed to the polls to vote. What a week it has been. Nearly 160 million Americans voted in this election, the largest turnout in American history. Regardless of your feelings about the outcome, that is something in which we can all take pride. Many people fought and died for that right and it is our responsibility, each of us, to expand the voting franchise to as many people as possible.
This election included another notable first. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will become the first Black and South Asian woman to be vice president of this country. As we said in a statement we released following the election results, we congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris on their historic win and are encouraged by the call for unity and pledge to represent all people in the United States.
Like in 2016, regardless of the results, Independent Sector, a nonpartisan, nonprofit institution, stands ready to work on behalf of nonprofits, foundations, corporate giving programs and the communities in which they serve. But unlike 2016, 2020 brings us an entirely different set of challenges.
As said in our statement, the work before us is unprecedented and it will take leadership, a commitment to racial equity and environmental sustainability, and trusted partnership if we are to stabilize and rebuild communities across the United States, especially those disproportionately affected by the health, economic, climate, and racial crises of this year.
Our greatest contribution at this time is to be a voice for those are most vulnerable to the policy changes enacted by our government, and to be an unwavering voice for a robust, vibrant civil society that is able to create the conditions for that work. Earlier today, Independent Sector did just that by delivering a memorandum to the Biden-Harris Transition Team outlining the contributions of this sector and our desire to see the people working in this sector as committed partners with this Administration.
This memo was the result of a deeply thoughtful and collaborative effort of our members and partners represented across our Board, Public Policy Committee, the newly formed National Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group, and nonprofit academia. We especially thank IS member, KABOOM!, for their partnership in leading this effort, as well as the lead author,, Shirley Sagawa, for her thoughtful and pragmatic approach. We also worked closely with IS member, Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland, which provided deep subject matter expertise and helped designed a process to engage a diversity of sector leaders in this effort.
In our memo, we ask the Biden-Harris team to consider more permanent structures to create a formal relationship between the nonprofit sector and the executive branch of government. Nonprofits and their leaders, especially in community, hold the expertise to solve our nation’s biggest problems. With all due respect for business and government, our country does not move forward if not for the American people in community coming together to serve one another. Among other things, we call on the transition team to consider significant investment to strengthen organizational capacity, workforce, and national service/volunteer programs of nonprofits, particularly for those closest to communities in greatest need, small organizations, and those led by and/or serving rural, Black, Native, and other communities of color.
We encourage you to read the memo and we look forward to updating you as our engagement with the transition team continues. We also must not forget that the work in Congress, often relevant to our day-to-day operations, will continue during the lame duck period and we promise to make you aware of developments there. This week, Independent Sector signed a letter to President-Elect Biden along with 4,000 other nonprofits from all 50 states calling for expanded relief during this global pandemic for our front-line nonprofits and the communities they serve. In addition, we are working on three key priorities as part of our NIIAG coalition work that have a chance of moving, including funding greater broadband access to underserved communities, increasing funding for the U.S. Postal Service, and providing relief in the childcare field, which experts believe may be on the verge of collapse. These are urgent asks and we will continue to advocate for efforts in both houses of Congress to advance this needed funding before the end of the year.
There will be no shortage of important and impactful work ahead for us as leaders and organizations, and I’m grateful to have members and partners like you by our side to ensure our collective efforts improve lives for the people who need us most. Finally, if you are an IS member, please join us for our Annual Members Town Hall on Monday, November 16. We will update you about Independent Sector’s strategy and our collective efforts moving forward, and have a more targeted conversation about the impact of the election results on our mission-driven organizations. We hope to see you there.