Advocacy’s Long Game

It is almost one year since Independent Sector’s last day in our office in downtown Washington, DC. Much has been made about people’s relationship to work since the pandemic began, and while it is a commonality that binds many of us, many still never actually left their work environment and remained squarely at the front lines of this disease.

This last year has brought moments of reflection and appreciation, I’m sure, but for so many also deep sorrow and grief. We had to learn how to be in this life where social connection happened via a computer or phone screen, and where grief was often endured in isolation. It’s been a hard year, and yet some things remained the same, such as our deep commitment to work collectively to bring much needed relief to the organizations and communities that needed it the most. Our work is never done, but we are proud of our collective effort in pushing this $1.9 trillion relief package over a finish line with much needed support for people who need it the most. And yet, we know it is not enough.

Expected to pass on Wednesday, the relief package includes several important provisions, such as additional nonprofit eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and additional investments in our civil and community infrastructure with funding for broadband internet, child care, arts and cultural programs, national service, energy assistance, and transit systems. However, without funding dedicated specifically to nonprofits, or an extension of the March 31 deadline for PPP applications, this package still leaves too many organizations working on the front lines with the most vulnerable communities to provide fewer services or shut down entirely. Please read our full summary of the provisions here.

As we’ve seen in the recent report by Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, more than a third of our nation’s charities may close in two years because of the financial strains of this pandemic. While this recent bill is will provide relief even with mixed results, we will continue to push forward in our advocacy and policy work, like we always have. I want to take a moment to thank our partners in this effort. Thank you to the Independent Sector members who partner with us on advocating for COVID-19 relief, who serve on our Public Policy Committee, or have joined the more than 45 organizations as part of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group.

One thing we know will be critical in the months and years ahead is how we, as a community of nonprofit and foundation leaders, create a more sustained and permanent relationship with policymakers in Congress and the Administration to ensure that these kind of uneven packages don’t continue to be our reality. If we don’t fundamentally change our political power in shaping legislation for the future, we will continue to be let down by this process. How that power is harnessed — not just by those of us here in Washington, but the organizations and leaders in community all over the country — will be our greatest challenge and will give us the greatest reward. Advocacy, especially on the federal level, is often a long and arduous process, but we will continue to ensure our advocacy doesn’t rest.

Thank you for being a part of this community.

Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: Administration, Civil Society, Congress, COVID-19 Public Policy, COVID-19 Response, Infrastructure, NIIAG, Public Policy
Policy Issues: Charitable Giving, Civil Society Infrastructure, Lobbying & Political Activity, Nonprofit Operations, Tax & Fiscal Policy