Stronger together: Collective advocacy in changing times
By Cathy Taylor
This is a disconcerting and uncertain time for the public benefit sector in Ontario. A change of government brings about changes that affect the environment in which our sector operates. From legislative and policy changes that affect our operations, like the nonprofit labour force and our financing, as well as changes impacting issues our sector cares deeply about: climate change, the arts, sport and recreation, front line social services, education, housing, poverty reduction, and so much more.
We know there will be a significant shift in how our sector operates and to the issues that our sector is in business to care about. As details are being released of the 2019 provincial budget and the government’s focus, we are just beginning to understand what issues and operations will be affected, and when and in what ways.
It’s timely for ONN to be clear about what our role is during this time and in the months to come. We will continue to have the sector’s back as your public policy advocate, and ensure the collective voices of the sector are shared with government and all our stakeholders.
ONN will continue to be a nonpartisan advocate. We will take positions on issues, not on governments. We will publicly and transparently publish and share broadly our policy priorities to strengthen the sector, our position statements, and our official communications to government as we advocate and advise.
We will continue to be an evidence-based storyteller, sharing both the economic and social impact of our substantial and diverse sector.
We will continue to focus on issues that cross the geography of Ontario. We will not advocate for issues in specific geographic communities. However, we will encourage and support regional networks and local collections of nonprofits to take a leadership role in their communities.
ONN will continue to focus on issues that span more than one subsector. Yes, that means we will not work on issues that are specific to say, affordable housing, or refugee settlement, or arts programming. We know we have partners who are subject matter experts working in all the various subsectors that make up our experienced sector. We will amplify and celebrate their advocacy on our communications channels. We will learn from their experiences and connect them with others interested and supportive of their work.
We will continue to work with both elected officials and their staff, as well as public servants – all who play a critical role in our public policy environment.
As we have always done, ONN will continue to strongly and loudly advocate for the public benefit sector to be at the table with our government partners as equal participants. The economic and social well-being of our province relies on our sector to do our work, and to do it well. And that means we need to be consulted appropriately – with reasonable timelines and appropriate information. We expect no less.
We will continue to build the sector’s capacity as advocates. We do this by making sure the rules related to advocacy, such as lobbyist registration and CRA guidelines, allow our sector to take positions on issues, by providing education and information on new legislation and policies that affect our sector’s work, and by providing skills building in public policy and advocacy, such as how to frame your advocacy asks, how to write a pre-budget submission, or how to read the provincial budget.
ONN will continue to convene the voices of the sector. We will never claim to be a single representative voice. We will gather nonprofit perspectives through our working groups and advisors, events, surveys, webinars, online channels, and more. And when the voices in the sector differ on issues that affect all of us, we’ll be sure to document that, too. That’s part of our commitment to be a network.
Most importantly, we will not waver from our roots and our commitment to advocate for and celebrate nonprofits and charities with a public benefit. Our mission says it all: To engage, advocate, and lead with – and for – nonprofit and charitable organizations that work for the public benefit in Ontario.
Being clear and transparent in how we work and what we work on is essential to being ready for the challenges and opportunities that will come our way, and to building a strong network of advocates across Ontario.
“We hope you will join us. Share your advocacy stories. Let us know what you think about government policies and priorities.”
Advocate for the importance of the public benefit sector AND the issues that your organization was created to advance and support.
We know we are stronger when we advocate together. And our sector is critical to the future of our province.
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