National Council of Nonprofits Builds Bridges of Partnership During Meetings at White House and on Capitol Hill

(Washington, DC) Last week marked a defining moment for nonprofit organizations-and the communities they serve-as members of the National Council of Nonprofits advocated for the nonprofit sector at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

In an historic first, 80 nonprofit leaders, representing more than 20,000 organizational members from across the country, met on Tuesday with a senior White House official to explore ways government and nonprofits can best partner to serve local communities.

Meeting in the celebrated Indian Treaty Room, the White House was represented by Michele Jolin, Senior Advisor in the new Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation. Jolin noted that the Office was created by a President who has an unprecedented commitment to and personal understanding of the vital role nonprofits play in their communities. Jolin and the nonprofit leaders discussed ways in which the National Council's unique national/state/local network could help the Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation connect to small and midsize nonprofits in local communities to identify, promote, and support innovative and scalable programs. The discussions also covered how to create a better policy environment for nonprofits so limited government and nonprofit resources can be leveraged for greater impact in local communities.

On Wednesday, July 15th, state nonprofit association leaders participated in the second annual "Nonprofits Advocate!" Lobby Day. The leaders were briefed by key senior staff members of Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on the progress of legislation of concern to nonprofits. The nonprofit leaders then spread across Capitol Hill for separate meetings in the offices of more than 100 US Representatives and Senators, focusing their attention on two core messages: (1) protecting the funding for the "Nonprofit Capacity Building Program" in the Serve America Act, and (2) ensuring that nonprofits - which employ about 10% of America's workforce - are not forgotten in health care reform.

These discussions with Congress and the White House occurred as part of the National Council's annual Member Meeting, which unites nonprofit leaders from coast to coast and facilitates the exchange of informed insights on issues impacting nonprofits. In addition to sharing innovative ideas and knowledge about best practices, these nonprofit leaders heard evidence of the economic recession's serious impact on nonprofits from Dr. Lester Salamon, a national expert on nonprofits and civil society who leads the Listening Post Project at Johns Hopkins University.

"As our nation's nonprofits deal with economic realities hurting the communities we all serve, the National Council is boldly stepping forward to live our tagline of being a National Voice - with a State Focus - for Local Impact," said Tim Delaney, President & CEO of the National Council. "America needs the government and nonprofit sectors - which serve the same constituents and communities - to be strong partners, so we are intentionally reaching out to build those bridges of partnership."

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The National Council of Nonprofits is the network of state and regional nonprofit associations serving more than 20,000 member organizations. By linking local nonprofit organizations across the nation through state associations, the National Council helps small and midsize nonprofits manage and lead more effectively, collaborate and exchange innovative solutions, engage in critical policy issues affecting the sector, and achieve greater impact in their communities.