So What Now? Grants Management in the Trump Era
No matter which side of the aisle you gravitate toward, the results of the November 8 election were a shock. Here in D.C., we go out and watch election returns like sporting events and as Election Night Tuesday progressed, the restaurants, bars, and even streets of the city became emptier and emptier. This extended into an eerily quiet Wednesday as well.
I followed, as I'm sure you did, the initial reactions of the social sector: sadness, anger, uncertainty, fear, and speculation. We've all needed (and will continue to need) time to process what a Trump presidency will mean for our work. And, in the end, we have to wait and see how his rhetoric translates to reality.
What's been emerging this week in the blogs and discussion boards, and which I find so heartening, is a pivot toward how philanthropy moves forward. Like all change in grantmaking organizations, grants management will be at the center of the action, whatever comes. We will need to continue to be leaders and experts in practice in our organizations, creative and adaptive in addressing change, and passionate advocates for the organizations and causes we fund.
I wanted to share a few articles and opinion pieces that I found particularly helpful in continuing to think about and understand the dawning of the Trump era and how we can continue productive conversations about the future. Some key conversations I'm following:
- Has philanthropy been ignoring the issues and challenges of a large segment of America? If so, how do funding priorities and strategies need to be adjusted to be more inclusive?
- Could the new administration be an opportunity to start a national discussion on nonprofit policy and lead a resurgence in respect, engagement, and resources toward the causes that Americans support with billions of charitable dollars each year?
- The election has energized a large number of people to vote, give, and volunteer. How can we keep this engagement alive?
- How should philanthropy and nonprofits react in the Trump era--as the loyal opposition working with a shared commitment to this country, or as a resistance?
- And, finally, where are the voices in the philanthropy space of the people who welcome the changes Trump may bring? We can't have a dialogue if only one side is speaking.
Regardless of your personal politics, there's no denying we are entering uncertain times. Like everyone else, grantmakers are looking around, trying to figure out how we got here, and making their best guesses about the lay of the land in the months to come.
It's not enough for charity and foundation leaders to defend causes that matter across the nonprofit world; they need to go on the offense.
Many of us in the sector are still going through the stages of denial, anger, and sadness. Everyone is on edge, and it's been manifesting in various ways. Luckily, I've been seeing an increase of support and community, with many colleagues checking in with one another, validating feelings, and creating space to process.
The American Civil Liberties Union has received more than $7 million since the election, and 128,000 people have contributed to Planned Parenthood in the past several days.
Loyal Opposition: Nonprofits Struggle with Acceptance or Resistance Responses
The concept of loyal opposition is important to our democracy, but many in civil society are asking themselves about its application in the wake of the recent presidential election.
Some might see these and other changes in the policy ecosystem in which nonprofits operate as a three-dimensional chessboard involving interactions between the federal, state, and local levels of government. But in fact, it is even more complex. The actions and reactions are equally dynamic among the three branches of government as judges, legislative bodies, and executives and administrative agencies exercise their separate authority and judgment. However viewed, the work of charitable nonprofits will be affected--positively and negatively--by changes in the policy ecosystem.