Words Do Matter
The past year has been challenging for the human service sector, culminating in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by the President on December 22. The new tax provisions promise to significantly alter the way nonprofits raise the funds they require to serve their constituencies and continue to strengthen our communities and, thus, the very fabric of American life. As many as 90% fewer tax filers will be itemizing deductions and the incentive for wealthy individuals to donate to nonprofits to avoid higher estate taxes will disappear. Moreover, in the coming year there will be pressure on Congress to reduce funds for a broad range of health and human services, including Medicaid and Medicare. Consequently, the number of people and the extent of need are both likely to increase and place even more demand on the nonprofit human service sector.
This is our predicament. It’s not new, although more intense. We also have solutions. We know how to address many of society’s greatest problems and, with the necessary resources, we can continue to drive and enhance the solutions that will build each person’s opportunities to reach their full potential. But, we have to be able to tell our story in a way that resonates with the public and the policymakers so those resources are made available.
For the human service sector, the most effective messaging is shaped by our National Reframing Human Services Initiative. Times may be tough, but we must resist the inclination to chastise policy makers, use crisis language, and blame the victim. Words and context are critical. Tell the story of your work through the Building Well-Being narrative, and together we can ensure that all our communities may reach their full potential.
Lee Sherman, President & CEO
Nonprofit organizations in Illinois that provide services under state contract have now been operating without benefit of a state budget for a second year. That’s long enough for the situation to feel like “the new normal.”
get comfortable with discomfort
It would be an understatement to say that the past few months have been uncomfortable. The national election was downright ugly, and it exposed just how naïve those pundits were who “dared ask whether the United States had finally begun to heal its divisions over race” after President Obama was elected.1 The resistance that has sprung up in response to the new administration has also been fraught—apparent, most notably, in the tensions over race and feminism that were sparked in the lead-up to the Women’s March on Washington, in January.2 The critiques and dissent may have hurt some feelings but the march was an undeniable success, drawing historic crowds to the nation’s capital and highlighting the leadership of the four co-chairwomen—one Black, one Latina, one Muslim and Arab American, and one white. Nonprofit leaders should get ready for additional uncomfortable conversations over the next years and accept that conflict will be necessary for progress...
Direct Care Wages an Increasingly Public Issue—Is Your Nonprofit Taking Leadership?
"The coalition group bFair2DirectCare is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo for an extra $45 million in Medicaid funding over the next six years to raise caregiver pay to $17.72 an hour in the New York City area and $15.54 an hour in the rest of the state."
Throughout our nation’s history, advocacy by nonprofit organizations has led to fundamental reforms that have saved and improved lives and strengthened communities. At all levels of public and private decision-making, nonprofits have made a positive difference through everyday advocacy. There is no substitute for the thrill of engaging directly. But by examining case studies, charitable nonprofits can be inspired and learn how they too can make a difference by advancing their missions through advocacy.
“A Mere Mom Moves Mountains – and Legislation.”
Anna McCartney is the embodiment of Arthur Ashe’s quote: “Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can.” This Seattle-area mom, who modestly proclaims “Gee, if I can do it, then anyone can do it,” has worked with various nonprofits to help pass legislation in Congress, the state legislature, and local governments. And to think that it all started with a simple breakfast with her baby...
Usually a new year opens with hopeful attitudes, but as we’ve checked-in recently with nonprofit leaders, family members, and friends across the country to ask how they are doing, instead of positive optimism, we’ve been hearing the words “fear,” “uncertainty,” and “paralysis.” We understand why. There is so much chaos happening in the political sphere, generating so much turmoil and uncertainty, that anxiety is running rampant. It may be your responsibility to make strategic decisions, but the future is so uncertain that the only thing many are able to be strategic about is finding time to keep up with the news. It seems as if the proverbial “scarcity mindset” has become the scared mindset.
We know it’s bad because we’ve heard story after story about nonprofit leaders who say they have trouble focusing. In trying to make sense of the rapidly changing environment, they toggle constantly to their cell phones so they won’t miss the latest Tweet or news feed. Some report being unable to sleep, or feeling whip-lashed by events whether on Capitol Hill, or in their own statehouses, that will affect the people their nonprofit serves. They are extremely worried - not just about funding, but about an unknown future that feels like it will be different in fundamental ways.
What’s happening, and what can nonprofit leaders do about it?
Just in time, there’s a new book that we recommend for every executive director’s reading list. For your nonprofit, and for those your nonprofit serves, and for your own well-being - make time to read this book! Here’s why you need to read The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit now!
In addition to reading The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, we hope you will be part of a very special webinar program on April 25, 2017 with Beth Kanter, who will both (1) share her personal journey towards a happy, healthy culture of wellbeing, and (2) pass along lots of tips that you won’t want to miss. This webinar will be a terrific way to share the wisdom of a happy, healthy workplace with your team and board members. Stay tuned for registration information coming your way directly from your state association of nonprofits. Meanwhile you can get a preview of the authors’ advice on our blog.
Copyright 2017 National Council of Nonprofits. All rights reserved.
1001 G Street NW, Suite 700 East
Washington, DC 20001
March 23 -or- March 24th.
Does your messaging move legislators, community leaders or even friends to act?
Have you analyzed your brochures, communication and messaging for effectiveness?
Ilsa Flanagan partners with forward thinking leaders to design groundbreaking solutions to society’s most complex problems. She is currently leading the National Human Services Assembly’s Reframing Initiative, mobilizing the sector to integrate research-based communications to deepen understanding of human needs and encourage more vibrant civic participation for social change.
n this presentation, you will hear the findings from this groundbreaking research and learn about common communications traps that tend to suppress support for our work. We will walk through a new and robust narrative and set of tools and resources that are free to the public and ready for you to use!
I don't tell you anything you don't already know when I say, Illinois is broke. Illinois is the first state in eight decades (that's 80 years!) to go without an annual budget. Reports show that Illinois has acquired around $10 billion in unpaid bills.
Who is to blame?
“If you wish to be a critic of me, then you would blame everything that’s happened in the state for the last several years on me. Some do that. I don’t choose to be so negative.”
Michael Madigan, Illinois House Speaker
Conventional wisdom says that scaling social innovation starts with strengthening internal management capabilities. This study of 12 high-impact nonprofits, however, shows that real social change happens when organizations go outside their own walls and find creative ways to enlist the help of others.
This article discusses the "Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits" and some common myths of nonprofit management.
Standford Graduate School of Business, 2007
Check out our FOR OUR MEMBERS section for the full article and link.