Elections are next week, but the real work begins soon after for nonprofits

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

On Nov. 6, Oklahomans – and all Americans – will head to the polls for an important midterm elections ever. We will be voting for dozens of new legislators, a new governor and lieutenant governor, several commissioners, city council people, judges and several state questions.

And this is not your average midterm election. Once all is finished, there will be more than 70 representatives in the House with two or fewer years of experience. The scores of new legislators walking the halls of the Capitol will be excited. They will also need you to educate them about the issues facing the nonprofit sector.

I have written many times to encourage nonprofits to get out the vote – and this year is no different. Please encourage your staff, volunteers, board members and constituents to get to the polls on Tuesday. This civic duty is the backbone of our democracy, and we as nonprofits should be at the forefront of promoting civic engagement.

However, the real work will start Nov. 7. That’s when nonprofits need to begin creating and developing relationships with their newly elected officials. This means at the local, state and federal levels. As I always tell nonprofits, don’t wait until there is a crisis – meet your legislators and policymakers now, and educate them about your mission and community impact.

First and foremost, reach out to your new (or maybe not-so-new) policymakers soon after the election. They’ll be busy learning about the legislative process, but they need you to help them understand your role in the community and how you solve problems to create better places to live for Oklahomans. Additionally, get them basic fact sheets about your mission and impact. Have them visit your nonprofit. Connect them with others in the community doing this work.

And most importantly, encourage your other nonprofit friends and peers to do the same, particularly for policymakers outside of the metropolitan areas. We have to make education and advocacy a priority for our elected officials to be able to do their jobs effectively with all the right data and information.

Don’t stop the momentum on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Keep it in full gear and develop and nurture those relationships with our elected officials. Now is the time to reach out, so that you’ll have a seat at this ever important table.

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