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Nov 1, 2020
Posted Under: Advocacy President's letter

Are you feeling it? Are you hearing it? Election anxiety – it’s a thing. It might look different across the country but we are not immune in our great state. The rising rates of COVID infection are only exacerbating our collective anxiety. Overlay a reckoning about the deep inequities experienced in our communities not just by the ravishes of COVID right now but by historical trauma, and we have the perfect storm for deep and real anxiety.

What we also know is that the collision of COVID and the election has something else in common: it takes all of us to participate and believe in the greater good for change to occur. If your anxiety is being stoked and you are having trouble finding the right things to say – remember, it’s not always about what you say but what you project in other ways. By your very existence as a nonprofit leader you are participating in democracy. That’s because we serve the greater good and bring people together to create change and provide a voice for civil society. You do this every day.

It’s likely that the election outcome will be delayed for weeks. If that happens, it will be unnerving for so many. Your response during this time will be crucial in helping the people around you stay calm. Importantly your gift of a safe and calm voice to your staff and board, encouraging them to take extra care, is as important as your message to your stakeholders. In particular, we know that immigrants, people of color, people in certain religious groups,  and the elderly are more likely to be fearful during this time. If this is you, we see you and we are lifting you up. We all need to be here for each other – now more than ever and then more as we go.

If you are ready to use your nonpartisan voice in the next few days or few weeks or few years – great! Your voice matters and people are watching and listening.

One of our coping mechanisms during this time is to read, reflect, and share some ideas. Take a breath and pick one. Or pick them all. It will take all of us doing a little to help a lot.

What are some things we can do?

  • Connect with your team. Remind them of the mission work they have dedicated this moment in their lives to. Remind them of the emotional support and connection you have to offer. Let them know you care.
  • Send an external message soon. Acknowledge the anxiety and fears within your organization and perhaps in your community. Acknowledge that the election is likely to have a significant impact on your community, your organization, and the people and places you work with and within as you do mission. Tell the truth without hyperbole or partisanship. Our missions are bigger than one person or one election. So above all, offer hope and forward momentum in the form of your mission.
  • Encourage everyone to VOTE. Remember that it’s fully legal for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations to encourage everyone to vote. Just steer far away from candidate endorsements. It takes everyone to make democracy work.
  • Reach out to policy makers. In Alaska, you know these people. They are accessible at all levels of government, and hearing from you is part of their job and yours. If you are feeling anxious about the impact of COVID or the election on your constituency, be the voice for those worries but also offer suggestions to your elected officials. You are on the ground and your voice matters. Importantly, don’t just talk to them when anxiety is high, reach out and let them know you appreciate their hard work – even if you don’t agree with every result every time. Civility is a remarkable cure for political anxiety.

Regardless of the election’s outcome, the nonprofit community will prevail. We will never stop doing everything we can to help people and to heal the planet. We will never stop standing up against injustice. We will never stop lifting up spirits. We will always be the place where new solutions arise and are tested. We are democracy come to life, and we will prevail.

You can count on Foraker to be a strong voice for democracy and for the power and strength and passion of the nonprofit sector. You can count on us to support and elevate nonprofit leadership as solution-oriented people who are about resilience and taking action. We are standing by your side and leading the way together for the betterment of all Alaskans.

Be well – wear a mask – wash your hands – keep your distance – VOTE

Laurie

P.S.  Join us on for a nonpartisan election debrief at our regularly scheduled Advocacy in Action on November 5 at 9:00 am. There will likely be a lot of unknowns, but we will share with you what we do know. You can register here.