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Onward

Since the summer, people have been saying that they just want this election to be over. I felt the same way, but I couldn’t help worrying about what was on the other side.

Now we know.

And whether you are happy with the outcome or have your head in your hands, as people who care about the nonprofit sector and about this country, we don’t have a moment to waste in the aftermath of this divisive campaign.

We’ve got work to do.

While politics gyrates around us, the nonprofit sector has always remained the constant. We continue to serve those in need across genders, ethnicity, economic status, and political beliefs despite election wins and losses.

The nonprofit sector has never been as critical as it is right now, in this time of uncertainty.

Because no matter what the outcome of health care reform, there will always be clinics serving new immigrants and their children.

No matter who takes over the EPA, there will always be groups working to keep our water safe.

No matter what the stock market does, there will always be some kind of effort to shelter the homeless in nearly every community across this country.

The nonprofit sector is the expression of everything that people really care about, regardless of what party is in power. As Cecile Richards said the morning after the election from the helm of Planned Parenthood:

These. Doors. Stay. Open.

The nonprofit sector also has a unique opportunity to connect people of different political beliefs around a common purpose, to serve as a bridge.

In our work, we reach all kinds of people, who believe in all kinds of things. We are the model for civil discourse, faithful optimism, and good intentions.

They don’t call us civil society for nothing.

But in order to serve as this bridge between people, we must be intentional. We must recruit people to our board leadership with all kinds of backgrounds and experiences.

We can’t just hire staff who feel familiar and comfortable. We must cast a wider net and bring in people that have connections to communities that we haven’t been able to reach before.

Our program work can never stand still. We can never be complacent with what is working now. We need to constantly be reaching out to get different perspectives, whether we agree with those views or not.

And in fundraising we cannot rest on the generosity of a small, elite group of foundations and large donors. Real change comes when volunteers, clients, and community members come together to invest in the work we do, even if it’s one dollar at a time.

You’ve probably guessed that this election didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.

But this morning when I was holding my head in my hands I recalled another election in 2000. I worked at Greenpeace then and the staff spent a solid week after Al Gore conceded, wallowing in disappointment.

But one day, the executive director, the wonderful John Passacantando, called a staff meeting and his message was this: Enough is enough. It’s time to get up. We have to pull ourselves out of this. Our supporters are counting on us.

It shook me into action then, and it’s got me going now.

Get up, civil society. We’ve got to go back to work.

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