A New Year’s Message by Alliance Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Mobilization Marlo Nash

The world of 2018 is a new place. The tax bill signed into law by the president in late December ushers in a new era for this experiment in democracy that we call our home, our country. On its surface, the new tax bill will only exacerbate the pressure on our sector—some of which can still be attributed to the Great Recession.

If it works to strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs, like its supporters anticipate, the effects on the nonprofit human services sector may not of the order of magnitude that they seem today. But, with a diminished incentive for charitable giving and ensuing federal budget cuts, even if greater prosperity is ahead, there is a foundation-shaking shift in systems and institutions that will occur alongside it, including in our sector.

In The Washington Post’s opinion piece How Higher Education Lost Washington, the author describes an arc of history wherein higher education institutions once had an active, visible lobbying presence in D.C., but have since let it wane. He goes on to link the decline in visibility and energized power relationships to recent federal-level losses to the nation’s post-secondary system, which, in turn, recalls the advocacy and lobbying efforts of the human services sector. The threats to the sector’s health and stability, and, more importantly, to the people and communities we serve, loomed large in 2017 and an even greater shadow is being cast for 2018. It is time for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities network to have an active and visible presence with their congressional delegations and with candidates in the national mid-term election season.

Focusing your organization, its board, and staff on advocacy is an important component of any risk management strategy. The pipeline for government resources that support the work of achieving positive outcomes for children, families, individuals, seniors, and communities does not begin with public agencies. It begins with elected officials who are driven by public will and by influential lobbying interests. There is a vital role for you and your organization to play in 2018, alongside your partner organizations in the Alliance network. It is key that your plans include actively engaging in values-based advocacy, building interactive and productive relationships with your federal policymakers, and serving as a partner to bring forth policy solutions that are both responsive to government quandaries, such as an out-sized federal deficit, and effective in ensuring the well-being of all people in this country. We are working together in this sector during a period of history that will bring about profound change. Alliance members are organizations that lead in innovation, keep the needs of people and communities at the center of decision making, and push for systems to work to address root causes and the social determinants of health. Your voices, perspectives, and ideas are essential to ushering in changes to systems, financing, and institutions that work for the good of individuals and for the common good.

The Alliance is a place to convene, lead, and drive local ideas and successes into national-level conversations about how policies and systems should or should not change.

Join us Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. CT for the Federal Policy Update webinar to learn the focus of the network’s collective policy efforts in 2018 and some of the trainings, tools and events that will be made available to support your involvement.

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