Trump’s White House victory has already started shaking up the nonprofit world. As a result of the immigration executive order signed January 27, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received $24 million through over 350,000 online donations during the weekend — that’s six times what the ACLU receives in online donations in an entire year. And that $24 million is over and above the $15 million the ACLU took in via online donations in the weeks after the November 8 election.
Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, reports that nonprofits supporting progressive causes have benefited the most since Trump’s election. Perla Ni, CEO of Great Nonprofits, believes that donors are fearful that the programs they support could become endangered and said “some of the organizations that we’ve seen an increase in giving to are homeless organizations, organizations that serve women, organizations that help Muslims integrate into American society… types of causes people feel strongly about.”
The ACLU example isn’t an isolated event. 2016’s Giving Tuesday, the daylong campaign to promote online giving that occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, netted $168 million – 44 percent more than in 2015. Although the rebounding economy can account for some of that increase, some pundits suggest that giving was up after the election because under Trump’s proposed tax plan the value of charitable deductions will decrease. Researchers from the independent Tax Policy Center predict that under Trump’s tax plan, charitable giving in 2017 would fall between 4.5 and 9 percent, totaling between $13.5 billion to $26.1 billion.
Lee Morgan Brown, Executive Director of Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, maintains that whatever happens nationally, Sonoma Valley residents will continue to support important programs. She said, “Our Valley is tremendously generous with their volunteer time and dollars. In today’s climate of national uncertainty, the one thing that is absolutely certain is that our volunteer time and charitable dollars will remain with our youth… shoring them up through meaningful sustainable relationships with caring adults who can mentor them and provide friendship, consistency and positive reinforcement. This creates a whole and healed community.”
Some predict that a scarcity of government funding for healthcare, education, public parks, and science research may mean a larger role for private donors. Katherine King, Executive Director of Sonoma Overnight Shelter (SOS) said, “SOS is fearful of what is going to happen with the new administration. Cuts to the federal government will impact services locally to the homeless. The county is our biggest funder. The homeless count that we took on Friday shows three times as many homeless as in previous years. We need the funds to provide food and shelter in Sonoma and Sonoma Valley.”
So what can nonprofit leaders do to prepare themselves for the next four years? The editors of the Nonprofit Quarterly suggest these strategies: (1) increase your advocacy strategies and capacities to protect marginalized people and communities; (2) be sure the board understands the importance of advocacy even beyond the organization’s mission; (3) be ready to create active collaborations across groups and causes to advance the prosperity of the communities the nonprofit serves; (4) engage in more two-way communication with constituents to keep them informed and ready to mobilize; and (5) maintain a vision of the communities, nation, and world you want.
Juan Hernandez, Executive Director of La Luz Center, and his team have already taken action to prepare for the Trump presidency. Hernandez stated, “This is not the first rodeo for the Latino community in the US,” citing prior examples of repatriation of Mexican families in the 1930s and 1950s, Immigration and Naturalization Service raids in the 1980s, and California propositions in the 1990s prohibiting access to community services. He added, “What makes it different is that Donald Trump rode the wave of xenophobia, racism and discontent. This exposed the deep seeded beliefs of many of the electorate.”
When asked what recommendations Hernandez has for community members as a result of the uncertainties surrounding the Trump administration, he said, “Invest in organizations that are equipped to provide legal aid, defend immigration rights, and/or support youth civic and political engagement. Get informed and connected. Host a conversation with our community and neighbors. Families who may be disconnected need to get support and have their questions answered.” To provide needed support to Sonoma Valley’s Latino families, La Luz Center has already started to partner with agencies that are Bay Area experts in citizenship issues and in helping families understand their rights.
The one thing nonprofit leaders can agree on is that they need to brace themselves for change, because it’s coming fast and furious. And now, more than ever, donors of all giving levels need to get off the sidelines and step up to the plate to support the causes that resonate with their passions.