Connecting Government and Nonprofits to Strengthen our Communities and Nation
Communities and families still feel the crush of COVID, an uncertain economy, racial injustice, and a changing climate. They also trust nonprofits to strengthen our nation in times like this.
Despite its scale and unique understanding of community needs, nonprofits are often on the “outside looking in” when federal-level policies are decided. While we are the “frontline” in making our communities vibrant and more equitable, our voice is not always heard by policymakers.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an example. It saved millions of jobs last year, including nonprofit jobs. Yet, because it was designed without the experience of nonprofits, too many organizations, especially smaller nonprofits in under-served communities, struggled to navigate the system and access benefits.
What could have been different if nonprofits had been in the room when PPP was designed?
The Executive Order on Strengthening the Nonprofit Sector and its Partnership with the Federal Government and forthcoming legislation give us the best opportunity we have had to make certain nonprofit expertise and experience is at the table. Permanently.
About the “A Seat at the Table” Initiative
The Seat at the Table initiative, through the proposed executive order and draft legislation, would create permanent, structural mechanisms for the sector to help shape and improve federal policy while also expanding opportunities for the government to work more effectively with the sector to achieve shared goals.
The initiative would create a three-part structure to deepen this partnership. The White House Office on the Nonprofit Sector (ONS) and the Interagency Council will coordinate within the federal government to ensure policies are designed with an understanding of the sector’s capacity to realize critical priorities in a way that maximizes the benefit to communities and our nation. The Advisory Board, made up of community-based and national nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, will consult with policymakers and provide critical insight on community and sector needs.
Why We Need a Seat at the Table
Communities trust the nonprofit sector – the greater role nonprofits play in people’s lives, the more trusted they become – and this trust is the necessary precondition for making sustainable change possible. This is an invaluable asset we bring to government partners.
Nonprofit organizations are the third largest employer of the private workforce, employing more than 12 million people in the US and representing 5.9% of overall GDP. Yet, unlike the small business sector, we have no permanent voice in federal government.
More efficient collaboration with the federal government means nonprofits nationwide can spend less time explaining to lawmakers the importance and uniqueness of the sector and more time fulfilling their missions.
Nonprofits have the expertise, the reach, and the trusted status needed to drive hard systemic change. No sector is closer to the realities or people on the ground or has as deep an understanding of the problems communities face.
Support for the Seat at the Table initiative will directly lead to better policy formulation and implementation, more support and opportunity for people in the U.S., and stronger, more equitable communities.
Nonprofits need infrastructure and resources they can plan on year after year. Leaders from across the sector can have these critical discussions and seed lasting change at the highest levels of government so that the important work of nonprofits can scale and become more sustainable.
This is a campaign to make certain the nonprofit sector has a permanent seat at the decision-making table in the federal government. It’s also a campaign to make sure the communities and missions we serve are never an afterthought in the policy-making process.
We have a chance to make a real change. And we need you because we are stronger together.
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