Part of the charm and part of the challenge of Upswell is that there is always more going on than you can follow. Even if you had the opportunity to be with us Chicago—and even if you spent the whole time with policy and advocacy activities—you probably still missed something fantastic. For all of this informative and inspiring engagement from members and allies, we are grateful. Thank you all for everything you do to make Upswell and the Independent Sector community a vibrant place for policy action.


On Thursday morning the 14th of November, advocates assembled for the Presidential Campaign Forum on the Nonprofit Sector. It did not quite go according to plan, as our chief strategy officer Jeff Moore notes in this edition. Regardless of those plans, a representative of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) campaign joined David Brooks of the New York Times for a conversation about how nonprofit organizations can and must engage with candidates and elected officials in general. That conversation was conducted by livestream with the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and you can view a recording here.

Immediately following, we had a great and frank discussion in “Advancing Racial Equity from Community to City Hall,” on how two government leaders, Candace Moore of Chicago and Joy Marsh Stephens of Minneapolis, are leading racial equity efforts on a municipal level while centering the community of residents most affected by a history of racist policies. At one point, they were asked to choose one audacious strategy to undertake that would have the biggest impact. They answered that healing from racialized trauma and reparations would top their lists.

Later that day, participants spent time learning “How to Be the Expert in the 2020 Elections”. This workshop, moderated by Lindsay Torrico of United Way Worldwide, and 2019 NGen Leadership Award Finalist and Laura Esquivel of The Hispanic Federation, gave an overview of their organizations’ planned advocacy and nonpartisan civic engagement activities for the upcoming election season. Aside from planned advocacy efforts, several participating organizations had voter registration and education drives planned.


Another workshop, “What Do We Want from 2020 Candidates?” gave changemakers the opportunity to share what they feel the nonprofit sector should be asking of the 2020 presidential candidates. After hearing about some key issues, sector leaders were given the opportunity to react and propose what they felt the sector should rally behind. Despite the broad array of issues, two key trends were clear: the nonprofit sector is concerned about remaining financially viable, as well as attracting and retaining top level talent.

Throughout Upswell, attendees had myriad opportunities to learn more and share their individual policy expertise. Many learned about bypassing Washington DC to focus on state and local advocacy or dove into options for charitable giving policy. During an open forum on “Oversight of our Sector,” participants discussed better definitions for regulation and oversight, and how to enforce regulation while minimizing institutional burden. Later in Upswell, future changemakers were spurred to action while learning to overcome their “Fear of Advocacy”. They were also treated to a conversation about the future of philanthropic governance by numerous experts in the field.

If you came to Upswell and were part of this unique public policy confluence, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. If you are still looking to learn more about these proposals or if you want to talk about Upswell 2020 in Pittsburgh, please do not hesitate to submit your question by replying to this blog post.

Get more Upswell content, including videos highlights of each day, at upswell.org.

Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: Administration, Civil Society, Congress, Election, IS Member, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Voices for Good