A Few Thoughts on My Day on The Hill in Support of the Nonprofit Sector

As part of the Public Policy Action Institute, a preconference event to this year’s Independent Sector Conference in Washington, DC, I had the pleasure and privilege of joining colleagues from my home state of Michigan to visit our representatives in the U.S. House and Senate.

“Pleasure and privilege? He must be kidding!” you might be thinking. But for me, those visits with my elected officials are, indeed, as just described.

Here’s why.

If you’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years, as I have, or if you’re a newer (or much younger) player in this game, I hope that one thing you have already experienced in that time is the authentic pleasure that comes from describing to others your work in the social good space. It—literally—makes me feel good to hear with my own ears, words emanating from my own mouth, describing the positive impact my organization or my sector has on people and communities. It’s a wonderful reminder to me of why I chose to do what I do. So, I truly do get personal pleasure from and take considerable pride in my advocacy efforts.

Ok, but what’s the privilege angle?

Well, for me, while I do enjoy talking about the good work my organization and our sector does, I enjoy it even more when I do so in conversation with a potential supporter of that work, or a potential change agent who can catalyze some enhancement to our capacity to serve and produce good effect. Political office holders, at every level, have that potential. While local officials may be closest to the ground regarding issues that our sector is dedicated to addressing, those at the state, and certainly, the federal level, have the potential to enact broad, sweeping policies that can do good or harm to our sector as a whole. So, I regard it as a privilege to be able to speak with my federal officials whenever I have the opportunity, like that provided by the IS Public Policy Action Institute’s Hill Day. It’s your chance to speak to power, to influence the kinds of changes that can best serve our sector and through us, those we serve.

So, I encourage each and every one of you to be active in advocating for your own and our shared cause. I think that the more active you become in that effort, the more you will understand it and feel it to be both a pleasure and a privilege. Advocacy within the public sector is an important way by which we serve our communities.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: IS Member, Public Policy, Upswell