Encouraging people to vote is one of the most direct ways nonprofits can promote and protect democracy, but running for office is probably the boldest. As leaders and staff of charitable organizations, we often think of ourselves as people who serve the community in a less visible capacity – fundraising for programs that serve our clients, organizing meetings or events, teaching classes, or working cases. But there is no greater service than an elected official who remains accountable to the will of the people who put them there.
We hosted a webinar on how you can get started in your run for office (or how your organization can stay inside the bounds of political activity as a 501c3 connected to a candidate) but let’s take a few minutes now to talk about some of the big reasons WHY you should consider running.
5) You See the Real-World Impacts of Policy Decisions
The people that craft legislative and policy decisions are not always close to their outcomes – as a nonprofit professional you see the actual impacts these decisions have on the lives of people you serve. This perspective sets you up to make decisions grounded in the real-world experience of the people most impacted.
4) You Know the Root Causes of Issues Facing Constituents
Even when decisions are made with the best intentions of ameliorating hardship or inequality, they sometimes resemble a Band-Aid for the symptoms rather than medicine for the underlying issue. Your insight on root causes and how they play into each other is a valuable insight for government.
3) You Test New Programs and Solutions to Problems
Nonprofit organizations can often work faster than government bureaucracy but implementing a new program or policy can trip up even experienced policy makers. As a nonprofit professional, you’ve likely overseen and contributed to the design, development, and implementation of new initiatives and can leverage that experience to improve policy and planning.
2) You Are an Authentic Leader
Effective nonprofit leaders build trust in their organizations and themselves, just as elected officials should. Since you work with the communities you’ll represent and should already have meaningful relationships there, your constituents will believe in your leadership.
1) You Can Be a Champion for Nonprofits in Your Community
Charitable organization routinely step up to provide services that the government can’t or won’t provide. Your deep understanding of the relationship between government provided services and nonprofit programs is a lens other civic leaders may not possess. You can articulate the needs of the nonprofit community (as well as laws governing the sector that officials may not be aware of) to create better partnerships, allow for nonprofit growth, and ensure that the needs of constituents are met.
Convinced yet? Check out our webinar about your next steps and and head over to Run for Office to find out which positions will be up for election soon in your area. As a nonprofit ourselves, we can’t endorse you, but we are counting on you.