Top-10 State Requires Strong Nonprofit Sector

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO
Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits

As the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes, the state’s charitable sector comes into focus as an integral partner working with the state, along with municipalities, on solving some of our most complex issues. Last weekend, I got to experience the outcome of how nonprofits can change and improve communities through strategic partnerships among a wide group of stakeholders.

I attended the 2020 Speaker’s Ball in Oklahoma City. I have attended dozens of times in the past, but this year was special. Not only was I representing our amazing nonprofit sector, I was speaking at the event as a past board chair of an incredible organization called ReMerge. ReMerge was founded out of a mutual concern – too many women, especially those with children, were ending up in jail because of substance abuse or mental health issues. A group of policymakers, law enforcement professionals, philanthropists, subject experts and nonprofit leaders made a bold move: create a nonprofit that would tackle these problems from the onset and provide a diversion program that would change, and remarkably, save lives and families.

At the Speaker’s Ball, ReMerge was the beneficiary of $50,000 through a generous and transformative donation. Additionally, I got to tell the story of ReMerge. How it began. How it thrived. How it has changed a community.

I want to especially offer kudos to our nonprofits that have diligently educated our policymakers about their missions and their outcomes for the past several years. This is created a new conversation. Today, our policymakers are as apt to mention nonprofit partnerships as they do new businesses moving to a community.

More nonprofit professionals and volunteers are running for elected office. They contact nonprofits when they’re running legislation, partnering often to creating positive change through innovative partnerships.

I am hopeful of this new future we are creating through this exceptional collaboration. The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is working closely with our Department of Commerce. From that work, we have created a Nonprofit Council of statewide leaders that gathers quarterly to hear from state officials and change-makers on new initiatives. We know that becoming top 10 requires a lot of collaboration, as we hope to continue this work to change lives throughout Oklahoma.

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