I love it when I come across a scrawled notation in one of my notebooks that, upon examination, turns out to be something pretty awesome.
This is an example of that.
From some notes I took in a meeting with our local chapter of Nonprofit Connect (formerly Council on Philanthropy) in September, I found “V3 Campaign” and the url. I visited the site yesterday, and found that it’s a national effort to: “make the voice of the social enterprise and non-profit movement heard, its value realized, and its votes counted in EVERY election.” Hurrah!
So the goal, as they state it, is “to develop a new generation of political leaders who understand the economic contributions of social service organizations, who recognize the potential of social enterprise and micro-credit to reinvigorate communities and who include the sector in their plans to rebuild the economy.” They do this through a three-fold strategy (hence the V3 name): using data to demonstrate the value that nonprofit organizations add to the economy (they, like many of us, are struggling with the term to use to define this sector, exactly), to help nonprofits understand how to make their voices heard in the political process (including advocacy, nonpartisan voter work, and media campaigns), and getting nonprofits engaged in direct electoral work, to the extent allowed by law.
They’re using videos, candidate questionnaires, fact sheets, and coordinated candidate forums to do this, and they take a long view: that by exerting the social change sector as a voting bloc, we can, over time, influence who is elected and, therefore, change public policies that impact our organizations and the people we serve.
The impact of the project is far from known at this point–they’ve got a 10-year timeline, and it’s a new effort. And it remains to be seen if V3 can get nonprofits as energized about the core social and economic (and political!) issues we address as we often are about our own survival–yet it’s precisely those issues that we most need elected officials to address; we’re in the social change business, not the nonprofit sustainability one.
But, still, I’m really hopeful. The vision behind V3 is Robert Egger of the DC Central Kitchen, an innovative and pretty inspirational social service organization. He gets this, and that bodes very well. And, truly, this is the first time that there has been an effort like this to translate the moral and economic weight of nonprofits into a political force. Even if it doesn’t totally succeed, that would not be failure.
Visit V3. Sign up for updates. Send your elected officials questions about how they will respond to the needs served by the social service and social enterprise sectors. Register your nonprofit coworkers to vote. Host a candidate forum for the 2010 elections (they’ll be here before we know it!). Make your voice, vote, and value count.