Fund Organizing Like Our Democracy Depends On It…Because It Does
Our allies at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy featured MVP’s September 2023 memo, Sending Up Bat Signal, in their appeal to the philanthropic community to step up their efforts in the lead-up to the 2024 election.
On the importance of off-year elections as well as sustained year-round organizing:
All elections shape the nature of the communities we live in, and there has been an immense amount of work [in the November 2023 elections] that went into ensuring that the will of the people was heard. Yet after the votes are counted, there is still the need for organizers after every election to continue engaging their communities. This kind of sustained effort is key – to holding elected officials accountable, passing progressive legislation, and continuing to leverage people power in the struggle for collective liberation.
On the urgent need for the funder community to step up their efforts:
This is why we should all be concerned about the current state of funding for voter engagement which is detailed in Movement Voter Project’s Executive Director Billy Wimsatt’s must-read memo, Sending Up the Bat Signal: An Urgent Message for Progressive and Democratic Donors. Here, Wimsatt has noted that donations to progressive organizations in 2023 have decreased significantly compared to contributions made throughout the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 election cycles. This could be due to a misinformed belief that recent wins in the past two election cycles means that voter engagement groups no longer need resources to do their work. Or perhaps donors have turned their attention to other, seemingly less controversial strategies for impacting communities.
And on the importance of sustaining momentum through both electoral wins and losses:
Effective progressive donors understand that lasting, transformative change will happen only with continued investments as part of a long-term strategy. They remember without much prodding that the wins of 2020 also didn’t happen overnight. Organizations and funders collaborated to lay the groundwork for the necessary repudiation of the Trump administration as early as the day after Election Day 2016. Electoral wins should be viewed as a sign for donors to increase their giving – instead of scaling back. Yes, we must take time to evaluate what worked, but any pause is in the service of successfully building off the momentum in anticipation of predictable political backlash from those working to stand in the way of progress.