Community Dialogues in Oklahoma

Last week, IS member, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, delivered a letter to policymakers in Oklahoma.

“We should work together to promote greater reach, access and impact with the proper investments that ensure the prosperity of every citizen,” the letter stated.

Daniel Billingsley, vice president of external affairs of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, explained that they modeled their effort after IS President and CEO Dan Cardinali’s “community dialogues” process, which engaged nearly 1,000 charitable sector leaders in November 2016 at the Independent Sector Conference to write a national letter to Washington.

They were able to come to a consensus on how they should collaborate with government on all level by bringing sector leaders in Oklahoma together to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the top 3 assets our sector can bring to the work of healing Oklahoma?
  2. What 2 or 3 actions can we commit to taking, as a sector, to help our federal government partners with the challenge of finding common ground and healing Oklahoma?
  3. What 2 or 3 commitments do we ask government leaders to make to the sector as we address this challenge together?

Daniel said the exercise was a main component of their advocacy forums in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and included individuals from the entire political spectrum. It also provided a great frame for future policy discussions.

“’You would think that in polarized political climate that you would get isolated ideas, but there was so much agreement,” he said. “It’s comes down to being more about the ‘how.’”

Daniel said he appreciated seeing how this process happened at the Independent Sector Conference and encouraged others to do something similar in order to get to fast agreement and execution. “The process was simple enough and it didn’t require a lot of data mining and interviewing,” he said.

In fact, after the meetings, he said it only took about an hour to compose the letter.

“I would encourage any organization that is able to convene people at the table to so do,” Daniel said. “We need to convene leaders, consumers, general public, and policymakers to talk about these issues so that people realize we do have agreement, consensus, and understanding. In order for us to move the needle, we are going to have to have some bigger discussions.”

Kristina Gawrgy Campbell is the director of strategic communication and public relations at Independent Sector.


Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: IS Member, IS Staff, Public Policy
Policy Issues: Lobbying & Political Activity