As I write to you this month, I am feeling very lucky. This past month I’ve had numerous opportunities to travel around the state and meet many of our members and partners. It is inspiring to see the great work that is happening and the dedication of so many thoughtful and knowledgeable community leaders. The power of both grassroots and established organizations is illustrated well by two projects I learned about in Vancouver, WA. In one, a small group of dedicated volunteers has created a “Pocket Guide to Street Survival” with practical tips contributed by and for people experiencing homelessness. In the other, the Council for the Homeless is building affordable housing using a sophisticated and innovative financing strategy: impact investing from the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington. Both seem like important contributions, and both projects are working in close collaboration.
Last week, I was back in Vancouver for the Philanthropy Northwest conference. I had the opportunity to talk with many different funders, better understand their priorities and hopes, and also to present in a workshop where our Northwest state associations advocated for our members by sharing “what nonprofits wish funders knew.” We discussed the power and privilege dynamics that prevent nonprofits from providing honest feedback to funders, underscored the importance of general operating funding, and raised many more concerns that we hear from our members regularly.
What else are the funders talking about? Sessions at the conference focused on equity and disparate outcomes across many important outcomes for people of color, partnering with rural communities, how to engage in public policy advocacy, effective collaboration, and much more. We are also very lucky in Washington State to have a funders collaborative focused on capacity building, the Statewide Capacity Collaborative. This group funds our work among others’, and is working to educate other funders about the value of strong leadership and infrastructure for the nonprofit sector.
Meanwhile, I am continuing my Listening Tour, and it’s been great to have so many people turn out for events in Spokane, Vancouver, Tacoma, Ellensburg, Renton and online so far. Sequim, Bellingham, Whidbey Island, and Yakima, I’m heading your way next.
As I said, I am lucky to have this opportunity to connect with and represent nonprofits. I’m honored, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue so that the work of our entire team is the highest and best use of our resources on your behalf.