Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nonprofits in Trump Land: So Many Questions

There are so many questions about the impact of these complicated political times on the nonprofit sector:

Re the relationship between government and nonprofits:
  • Will this administration discard the nonprofit/government partnership forged in the 1960's to provide direct federal funding for social services? There has long been a push/pull between conservatives who believe the less government the better (and the only good nonprofit is a religious one) vs. progressives who feel government has a moral imperative to support social services. Right now the balance looks to be tipping conservative.
Re the impact of new government policies on clients and communities:
  • How can those who serve immigrant populations find the resources to address pressing issues while being mindful of the risks for those populations and at the same time just what they normally do? There is tremendous fear in the immigrant community  - this means that nonprofits need to be cautious and discreet, as well as respond to whatever is the current crisis. This means more work for your already underpaid and overworked staff.
Re nonprofit finances and fundraising:
  • How would the proposed loss of funding for NPR, NEA, and NEH impact the sector and the nation? These agencies receive a minuscule amount of federal funds but support programs that serve rural, suburban, and urban communities throughout the country.
  • What will be the impact if funding is slashed for government programs that provide legal aid, food, health services, afterschool programs, environmental protection, and financial assistance for low-income folks? There will be tremendous pressure to maintain these programs - but no secure funding.
  • Will foundations that fund arts and community organizations prioritize political advocacy and decrease support? It's already happening. So your focus needs to be on increasing individual contributions big and small, encouraging monthly contributions, and winning back lapsed donors.
  • After streamlining services and budgets following the 2008 recession, will nonprofits survive another round that could be even more severe? Every nonprofit in the country rolled up its sleeves, upped its fundraising game, slashed budgets, and became more strategic back then - because they had to. There's not much left to cut. But note that agencies completely dependent on one primary source of funds, whether from the government or foundations, fared the worst. Hopefully, you learned that putting all your funding eggs in one basket is a recipe for disaster.
  • How will big national campaigns impact charitable giving to smaller nonprofits? Donations to the ACLU have increase 8,000%, and 1,000% for Planned Parenthood. Yet smaller organizations have also experienced donor bumps. And it is my experience that donors are capable of thinking both big and small, and being very loyal to organizations they care about. 
And now for our last question:
  • How can your organization make itself heard over the din of petitions and requests for money, and make the case that your nonprofit still matters? You do it the same way you always have - by staying in touch regularly and authentically, building relationships with donors, writing those thank you letters, and using every means at your disposal to reach out to your community for support.

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