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Yesterday we hosted a conference call for Alaska’s nonprofits to talk about how we amplify the nonprofit community response to the line-item vetoes in Governor Dunleavy’s budget.
Our message was clear.
As Alaska’s Nonprofit Association and the state’s capacity building organization, Foraker plays two important roles. One is to help you strengthen your mission work from the inside out through a variety of tools, support, and education. The other is to serve as the voice of the sector in nonpartisan public policy work. This time in Alaska requires us to exercise both roles more than ever. While we are committed to providing more tools to help with the impact of potentially devastating budget cuts, our focus right now is to galvanize each of you to take action and strongly urge legislators to override the damaging line-item vetoes in the budget just signed by the governor.
To that end, we heard from you that you need tools to navigate the next steps. We have crafted a message template for you to use as a guide. We encourage you to use it to create your message and then share your message with your board and others to help them when they contact their legislators. Your message will be powerful when it is customized AND all of us can focus on:
Our time is short to make a big difference. If we are successful, or if we are not, we are standing with you and we will navigate next steps together.
Yesterday we hosted a conference call for nonprofits to talk about how we amplify the nonprofit community response to the line-item vetoes in Governor Dunleavy’s budget. We heard from you that you need tools to navigate the next steps. To that end, we have crafted a message template for you to use as a guide. We encourage you to use it to create a message to share with your board and others to help them when they contact their legislators.
Call to Action – Please follow these steps:
Step 1 – Gather your stakeholders: board, staff, donors, volunteers, participants.
Step 2 – Provide them with a contact list of all the legislators. Start with your own district and then move on to the whole list – it is essential to contact all 60 legislators.
Step 3 – Provide an easy-to-follow message.
Step 4 – Ask your stakeholders to call or email using your ready-made messaging. A personal visit is best, but the compressed timeline makes that more difficult. Encourage your stakeholders to make an extra effort with legislators they know personally or with whom they have worked in the past.
Step 5 – Repeat Step 4 as many times as you can between today and the vote, when the legislature must make a decision about the budget.
Overarching message: Override all the line-item vetoes TOGETHER
Remember that while you have a specific cause and focus, we need to be in this together. We need to stand strong together for Alaska. Ask for an override of the all the vetoes, not separate votes on each of the 182 line items. While you likely have a line-item veto or vetoes that are relevant to your mission, success can only come with a request to override ALL vetoes.
It will take 45 votes from the 60 legislators to successfully override the vetoes.
Use this format as a guide. Craft your message with one or two sentences from each section.
Address each person with their title by name – for instance, Senator John Smith, or Representative Jane Doe.
Example: Governor Dunleavy’s vetoes eliminate $ _____ for _______(service).
Example: These cuts will mean the loss of _____________(real impact).
Example: All Alaskans rely on _____________.
Example: Nonprofits are the safety net for Alaskans. We are saving lives and caring for people with real challenges. We are celebrating artists and creating vibrant communities. For every dollar we receive, we leverage it and multiply it by three times or more.
Example: I urge you to vote to override ALL 182 line-item budget vetoes.
A message from Laurie Wolf, President and CEO
Today, Governor Dunleavy used his line-item veto to cut over $400 million from the FY2020 state budget, adding to $280 million in cuts already made by the legislature. These cuts represent some of the largest we have seen to health and human services in our state’s history. And these figures do not take into account the loss of $22 million in matching federal funds. Let’s be clear, these cumulative cuts will have an impact on every Alaskan. As we have been saying for some time now, Alaska only truly works when we work together – nonprofits, business, and government.
These cuts will mean the loss of essential services, and our most vulnerable will be the most harmed. More people will go without homes, without food, and without healthcare. Our children will be less protected. Our families and our seniors will be more stressed. Our environment will be harmed. Simultaneously, we will be less informed as the state pulls away from public radio and television. We will also be less able to express ourselves as artists, and the organizations that celebrate and create opportunities for artistic expression will no longer be funded. These budget cuts erode the very nature of the way we understand the multi-sector commitment that has worked in Alaska since statehood.
Many Alaskans might believe they will be unaffected by these cuts. Unfortunately, that is just not true. If you are upset and concerned by seeing people living on the streets, be prepared to see more. If you like quality-of-life experiences in your community, be prepared for less. If you are troubled by the rate of property taxes, be prepared for those to go up as costs shift to local governments.
If you are leading or working in a nonprofit today, know that your work matters. Know that we see you saving lives and caring for people with real challenges. Know that we see you celebrating artists and creating vibrant communities. Know that we are with you as stewards of our environment and its resources. Know that we are tuning in, listening to our radios, and watching TV. You are our lifeline in an emergency, and we will navigate the path forward together. We share your sadness that Alaskans in every community will be hurt by these decisions. Today and every day to come, we are standing with you. Together let’s raise our voices. Let’s pull together in this stressful time. Let’s stand up for the Alaska where we all benefit. As nonprofit leaders, let’s show our fellow Alaskans what kind of Alaska we want to live in together.
The Rasmuson Foundation grants up to $40,000 to cover salary and expenses during a leadership sabbatical, which supports the personal growth or renewal of a nonprofit CEO or tribal executive. Consider nominating someone or plan to apply yourself. The deadline this year is September 15.
Learn more at www.rasmuson.org/grants/sabbatical.
A message from Foraker’s President/CEO Laurie Wolf:
As nonprofit leaders we make difficult financial decisions every day and are driven to do what is best for the communities and people we serve. We know that the essential services we provide, the gifts we create for our communities, and the economic opportunities that are derived from our sector all work because we do it as partners with government, business and industry, and individual philanthropists. No one operates in a vacuum, and we need each other. Even if your organization receives no direct government funding, each decision by our policy makers has an impact on the people and places we serve. This is Alaska – we are all connected.
When faced with a drastic budget proposal earlier this year, Alaskans spoke up and reached out to legislators to let them know what was important in their communities. While we still face some of the largest programming cuts in Alaska’s history, many are breathing a sigh of relief because the options were so much worse. This is just the beginning, though, and I encourage each of you to see public policy as an essential element of your mission. Whether it is standing up for the communities where you live, or communicating directly with your legislators, or getting involved to ensure a full and accurate count of every Alaskan in the 2020 Census, we strongly encourage you to get engaged.
In each message you deliver, we encourage you to dispel the myths of your work. Highlight how your mission is serving Alaska communities, and how we are part of, but not the sole solution, to the challenges that face Alaskans. I encourage you to be at the table for discussions and decisions so that decisions made about us are made with us. In this way, we can focus on building an Alaska that works for all Alaskans.
For those who have a partnership with government to deliver services in Alaska, this is the time to plan for a shutdown or delay in receiving funds – two possibilities that will have an impact on all of us. Of particular concern in the operating budget is the authorization for releasing Medicaid funds. Delay in approving this budget means delay in Medicaid payments for all providers. This will result in significant and serious consequences for every Alaska health and human service provider and those we serve.
We encourage you to understand your cash flow options. Talk to your financial institutions and your funders about options. And, certainly, talk with board and staff about options. This is not the time to just cross your fingers and hope for the best. There are simply too many Alaskans who depend on the work you do every day. We hope that the governor and legislature will avoid a shutdown. But regardless of what decisions are made, having a plan is simply an important tool for board and staff leadership now and in the future.
At Foraker we are proud to be the nonpartisan, nonprofit voice of our sector – telling the story of your incredible work every day. We endeavor to work closely with government at every level and in many ways. We are standing with all of you as we work to create and sustain an Alaska that works for all of us.