Setting Our (Advocacy) Agenda
About two years ago, Jamie Moon (ED of the Institute for Child Success) and Madeleine McGee (CEO/President of Together SC) had a conversation about how Together SC could help bring together and support the various nonprofits in the state who spend most of their time advocating at the State House. The Advocacy Allies were born, with Jamie at the helm as chair.
This year the Leadership Team for the Advocacy Allies peer network has moved beyond creating networking and programming opportunities for members. The Together SC Board of Directors dissolved their own Advocacy Committee last summer and tapped the Advocacy Allies Leadership Team (with two board members in the group) to expand Together SC’s advocacy efforts.
Today, we are happy to release two important advocacy documents to our membership - our Advocacy Principles and our 2021-2022 Advocacy Agenda, both developed by our Advocacy Allis and adopted by Together SC's Board at their January meeting.
ICYMI - in December Together SC contracted with Pecan Public Relations, led by GP McLeer (who is also the ED of the SC Arts Alliance and the Mayor of Fountain Inn, SC), to manage and steer its advocacy work.
There are a lot of worthy advocacy causes within the Together SC membership every year. We would love to be able to help champion every single policy-related issue our members face, but we needed some stronger guidance for ourselves to be sure what we advocate for impacts the most number of Together SC members. As one of our Advocacy Allies said in a call one day when we were discussing this - we have to “stick to our principles”.
Our Board of Directors have incorporated these Principles into our overall Advocacy Policy. We encourage you to read the full policy as it details how these principles are used, and go into some greater detail - but here are the core principles we “stick to”:
Principle #1: Whole Sector Impact
Does the legislative issue have the potential to impact the entire nonprofit or charitable industry, either uniquely as a sector, or collectively as a member of the business community at-large?
Principle #2: Charitable Status / Tax Impact
Does the legislative issue have the potential to alter existing tax codes, reporting requirements, or other related filings specific to the charitable sector?
Principle #3: Equity & Social Justice
Does the legislative issue have the potential to strengthen or impede nonprofit organizations’ ability to advance equity and break down systems of racial and social injustice within their community? Does it help strengthen, or does it weaken, their ability to operate and /or deliver services equitably within their community?
Principle #4: Democratic Processes
Does the legislative issue have the potential to impact a nonprofit’s ability to navigate election law or participate in the democratic process, especially as it relates to their ability to fulfill their mission or serve their community free of partisanship?
Principle #5: Together SC Impact
Does the legislative issue have the potential to impact Together SC’s specific and unique operations?
Everything we advocate for will fit at least one of these five Principles, and we look forward to making our sector stronger through our advocacy work in these areas.
2021-2022 Advocacy Agenda
We’ve had advocacy agendas before, but they served more as an internal document. Our updated Advocacy Agenda is different. It’s not just a set of issues we’re watching, it’s a full blown structure that pairs the issues that meet our Principles (above), and our available capacity to commit Together SC resources to those issues.
It’s meant to be a model, something every Together SC member can not only read and understand what our legislative focus is this year, but also use to develop their own Advocacy Agenda.
Here’s what you’ll find in the full Agenda linked below. The issues listed under each section may change as the legislative year progresses, but as we start the legislative cycle, here’s what’s on our radar.
Issues that Together SC sees as possibly impact the field, and that we have an interest in monitoring, but may not necessarily be a mission-critical priority.
- Pandemic Response
- Various Flagged Legislation (click here for a full list that was updated on January 29)
Issues that are of importance to the field, but where Together SC will not be leading the charge on advocacy. These could be issues that our own Together SC members are championing, or are larger issues where Together SC wants to be sure nonprofit voices are heard. You’ll see these issues highlighted in newsletters and blogs, and you’ll be able to connect with those leading the way.
- Federal Policy Platform from the National Council of Nonprofits
- Pay Equity Act
- Hate Crimes Legislation
- Broadband Access
- Childcare Access & Expansion
These are the issues Together SC has identified as our top priorities. Our resources will be used to help advance the interests of the field at-large, and you’ll be kept in the loop the whole time. There aren’t many of these, because we’ll be putting a lot behind them. We’ll need your voices, we’ll need your passion, and we’ll need your support on these.
- COVID Relief for Nonprofits
- Nonprofit Oversight & Engagement with State Agencies
Click here to read our full Advocacy Agenda for more details on each of these issues.
One More Thing...
Do you have an interest in this work? Do you want an inside look into the Statehouse and updates on these issues?
Starting February 8th, we’re launching “Speaking Together”, our monthly advocacy newsletter any Together SC member can opt-in to receive. To do so, please log in and join the "Advocacy Allies" Peer Network.