It can be hard to see hope in the midst of so many crises. And yet, I am hopeful.
In early June, I wrote about a framework I have used during my life’s most trying times: See, Judge, Act.
This framework can also help you in a moment of deep reflection as most of us find ourselves at the end of one year and beginning of another. We tend to take stock of our lives and what has transpired over this year, judge how we did, and consider different actions we might take in the future.
The way I see 2020 is through a lens of deep gratitude and humility. Independent Sector had a remarkably trying, yet rewarding year. We were clear-eyed about the challenges and collectively took on the opportunities. We know it is because so many of you stood by us to work together to steward your staff, your communities, your families, and this country through a global pandemic, an economic downturn, a racial justice movement, and an ongoing environmental crisis. We saw an incredible amount of loss and pain this year – due to both COVID-19 and injustice – and yet many of us are still here in front of our Zoom screens or out in our communities trying to do good by the people we serve.
I have reflected hard on this organization’s ability to flex to meet the demands and the needs in our sector. We had to interrogate our own strategies and values many times – whether it was in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in March, or in June after we all witnessed a horrific murder at the hands of police. As leaders, we all had to take stock of what we had to offer and what we needed to shift, and I’m proud of how I’ve seen this community show up.
Lastly, as a broad Independent Sector community, we acted. We organized, we shifted our work, we made the tough decisions for the good of the whole. We advocated for relief and we rallied to get timely and important information to sector leaders quickly to access that relief. We also changed our strategies and approaches quickly and sometimes overnight. We were agile and had to make very hard decisions. Simply put, we did things this year we never anticipated on January 1, 2020.
For Independent Sector, we are proud of what we did do, while also knowing there is so much work ahead. In 2020, nearly a half-million individuals accessed timely information and resources on the IS website, nearly 80,000 individuals in your organizations and in our communities took action through our Policy Action Center, and 15,000 sector leaders participated in our events, including Upswell, where we focused on two critical issues of our time: antiracism and COVID-19 recovery.
And as we look to the future, I still see hope with our partners in government. The last four years have been challenging in finding an active and open partner at the federal level. We are seeing signs of this changing already as we met with the Biden-Harris Transition Team this month on our sector’s priorities and, in particular, a desire to see a more permanent structure for a nonprofit-government partnership in the executive branch. We have also looked at the nonprofit provisions included in the latest COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress on December 21. You can read our assessment and full summery here. This advocacy will continue and if you would like to share your policy priorities with our team and policymakers in Congress and the new Administration, please consider taking this 5-minute survey.
As we move into 2021 together, we must remain committed to facing this pandemic, the economic crisis, our ongoing work to combat systemic racism, and our environmental threats, all while understanding that the biggest burden and hardest climb will be for Black, Native, Latinx and other communities of color. As we work for a healthier and more equitable future, we are grateful to have you as a partner.
Happy New Year to you and yours.