Going back to the topic of relationships – I didn’t talk with anyone who is happy with how the Republicans and Democrats are working together in general. There are some bright spots in terms of individual relationships between offices, but in general the climate is toxic and each side is blaming the other. And I’m talking at a national level – not singling out Montana in particular. As a person who doesn’t really like the concept of “sides”, I spent some time thinking about how it can be that a pool of good people could divide themselves and become so entrenched. I know I’m not alone trying to understand this. I didn’t come up with anything too earth shattering, but I did take a few minutes to consider what I could do to help build bridges instead of contributing to divisiveness. I admit, it’s painful for me to pass up the opportune cynical comment – but I’ve at least begun to ask myself if my personal commentary is really helping or hurting. I’m honestly not sure. Humor is fundamentally better than lack of humor…so there’s that. And there is certainly a responsibility for honesty and candor. But maybe I could rein in my personal cynicism by some small amount. 17% or 18%. Max. I’ll give it a shot.
About the MNA request list (#1-5 above): A few weeks ago, 88 of you responded to a survey asking what’s on your mind as nonprofit leaders. We heard three major themes – none of them too surprising: concern about state and federal budgets, well-being of constituents, and fundraising. The prevailing tone of the responses was one of uncertainty and the stress that comes with not knowing what’s going to happen. We carried that message to our congressional delegation, especially in the conversation about incentivizing charitable giving. So thank you for taking time to respond to the survey and offering your very insightful comments. Candidly, we are in for some hard times – and I offer this advice based on my conversations with you, our congressional delegation, and my colleagues around the nation:
- In whatever ways you have the opportunity to build your reserve and/or appropriately diversify revenue – do that. This is not “new news”, but the most optimistic nonprofits in our survey were those who didn’t foresee an immediate financial crisis.
- Elected officials are always running for office. Take advantage of that by communicating what’s on your mind, how your constituents are faring, and what your expectations are. Express your appreciation as well as your disappointment. You might think you’ve communicated once and that should do it. It doesn’t. Senator Tester has a history of holding town hall meetings. Attend one. Senator Daines has shown a preference for call-in meetings. Participate. Congressman Gianforte has indicated he is going to travel the state in August. Tell him what’s on your mind. Write op-eds, communicate with congressional staff via phone and email. By whatever means you have be an unstoppable advocate – fierce but respectful, and clear about your expectations and your experience.
- Take heart. On any complicated issue, no one is 100% right. Which means there is always merit in another perspective. We should practice finding it. It won’t change reality, but maybe we’ll be happier and preserve our relationships rather than becoming entrenched – mimicking the very behavior we deplore in Washington DC.