My years in D.C. taught me that regulatory or statutory change can have far-reaching impact. Working for a nonprofit should not mean leaving the legislative and regulatory strategy to others! Happily, the Nonprofit Center puts advocacy at the center of our mission and knows that advocacy is an integral part of our work. We’re sharing a recent example of some of our advocacy to provide you with an example, some resources, and maybe some inspiration!
Over the past few months, the Nonprofit Center invited candidates for mayor of Jacksonville to meet with a small, diverse group of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders in a series of one-on-one conversations. The candidates shared their priorities and their view of the role of the public and nonprofit sectors in advancing these priorities; the nonprofit leaders and philanthropists had the opportunity to ask questions, share their perspectives and expertise, and highlight partnerships that advance economic inclusion and prosperity.
The Nonprofit Center engages candidates and elected leaders to create a clear understanding of how connected and trusted nonprofits are to their constituents’ interests and well-being, how strongly we undergird the social infrastructure, and how willing we are to partner to help our communities thrive. We make available policy positions and data that give candidates and elected leaders information about the Nonprofit Center and about the nonprofit sector’s impact and value. We’re also strictly nonpartisan and careful to protect our neutrality by following guidance from the IRS, and nonprofit experts like the Florida Nonprofit Alliance and the National Council of Nonprofits.
We’re sharing our policy agenda and these resources so your organization can include advocating in your mission-success strategy. Our candidate meetings are part of the Nonprofit Center’s advocacy work emphasizing communication, fact-based strategy, and trust. We want elected leaders and government officials to know that they can count on the sector for nonpartisan, expert input and community feedback.
The Nonprofit Center’s policy agenda:
- Recognize nonprofit economic power. Northeast Florida Nonprofits employ over 72,000 people making them an important business constituency and a formidable force for good. 77% of Northeast Florida residents believe the work nonprofits do creates a fairer, more unified community and 78% believe nonprofits are a vital part of the economy.*
- Champion smart accountability and streamlined contracting and grantmaking processes, and move the relationship from adversarial to mutually accountable. The government depends on nonprofits to provide critical services to its citizens; excessive regulations can inhibit excellence, unnecessarily increase the cost of doing business, and get in the way of public/private projects. 81% of Northeast Florida residents believe nonprofits deliver services more efficiently than the government.
- Invite private philanthropy and the local nonprofit community’s resources and expertise to resolve complex issues. In Jacksonville, encourage keeping the office of Strategic Partnerships within the mayor’s office. This one-of-a-kind position in Florida local governments is an innovative tool for a mayor to bring solution-oriented collaborators together and leverage private investment.
- Create government employment policies that support volunteerism and community involvement. 80% of Northeast Florida residents agree that our community would be a better place to live if more people gave money or volunteered to help nonprofits.
- Include the nonprofit sector to co-create community solutions. People in northeast Florida trust nonprofits (67%) far more than local government (52%), making them an ideal partner for community work. In Jacksonville, the City Council’s Critical Quality of Life Issues Committee successfully modeled this process.
- Invest strategically in additional grant funding for local nonprofits in order to accelerate progress toward community priorities. 72% of northeast Florida residents believe government should provide more funding for nonprofits.
- Assess government regulations and statutes that can prevent public/private initiatives. Private philanthropy might provide strategic resources that advance government priorities if the innovative mechanisms for collective and collaborative investment are removed.
We encourage all our members to develop their own advocacy strategy and to use it to connect with government leaders and public servants. As always, call on me or others on the Nonprofit Center team for advice and answers to your questions!
Rena Coughlin, CEO