Dear Mitakuyapi (“Relatives” is a traditional greeting in the Lakota language),
Cante Waste ya Nape Ciyu zape ye (“I shake your hand with a good heart”). In light of the past few months’ work at Native Americans in Philanthropy, we would like to share how nonprofits can advocate.
Nonprofits have served as a safe space over the years for those who want to better the lives of their people and communities. Advocacy done by nonprofits has helped to lower or eradicate barriers and broadened access to important services; raised up the needs of their communities and social problems; and prevented the loss of resources, historic landmarks, and sacred sites.
In Indian Country we’ve most recently witnessed the power behind nonprofit advocacy in partnership with tribal coalition efforts at Standing Rock, and for Utah’s Bears Ears, which is now a national monument. When nonprofits get involved with advocacy work, it gives voice to those who otherwise might have gone unheard. Nonprofits can elevate the needs of our youth, our marginalized communities, and our future generations. Independent Sector’s breakdown of what a nonprofit is says that a nonprofit must “benefit the broad public interest, not just the interests of its members.” Nonprofits, by definition, have been advocating throughout history.
The National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) states, “Advocacy is deeply-rooted in nonprofits’ DNA. From before the time our nation was formed through today, citizens – recognizing there is power in numbers – have assembled in groups to influence public policy.” NCN’s website even offers case studies of fundamental reforms that have saved and improved lives and strengthened communities through advocacy.
Organizations like NCN, Independent Sector and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) have lots of useful tools, tips, and resources available for nonprofits and anyone interested in taking part in advocacy issues at the local, state, and national level. Advocacy can look like an email or phone campaign to your elected officials, organizing meetings or site visits with your legislators and their staff, and making your views known to policymakers and your community through traditional and social media.
Individuals looking to help support nonprofits should do some research on the nonprofit first for any specific Call to Action items or ways to engage. Talking about your favorite nonprofits, following them on social media, and helping to spread word helps immensely to raise awareness of their causes.
Native American in Philanthropy has been utilizing advocacy to educate about the indigenous rights issues surrounding Standing Rock and #NoDAPL. It has also been crucial to voice how the very same issues of environment, racial justice and sovereignty issues impact many tribal communities across the nation.
Now, we are also proud to be a part of Indigenous Women Rise at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st to highlight the importance of priority issues:
- Violence Against Earth: Environmental Justice
- Violence Against Women: VAWA and MMIW
- Health Care Access
Organizers for the Indigenous Women Rise group include: Advance Native Political Leadership, Americans for Indian Opportunity, Native Americans in Philanthropy, Native Voice Network, Native Voices Rising, UltraViolet, The Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, North American Region, Women for Climate Justice Contingent, and Indigenous Environmental Network with interest in supporting happening from all across the country. You can show your support and advocacy by downloading our digital press kit and helping to spread the word through social media and at sister marches: http://bit.ly/IWRKit.
Our next Funders Strategy Call on January 31st at 1pm EST will share an update from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well as debrief on NAP’s involvement with Indigenous Women Rise. Please email [email protected] for the call-in information.
Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO
Native Americans in Philanthropy