A report was recently released that relates directly to the work that I am doing with the Minnesota Council on Foundations and the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. The report was published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and is entitled "Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement in New Mexico." The report is the first in a series to be produced in regions across the country. Apparently, Minnesota will be one of the regions for a future report.
In this report, NCRP studied 14 organizations in New Mexico that work with underrepresented constituencies to organize and advocate on a range of issues. One startling accomplishment was that "for every dollar invested in the 14 groups for advocacy and organizing, the groups garnered more than $157 in benefits for New Mexico communities.�? These benefits help workers meet their basic needs and provide significant economic stimulus for communities. "For example, every new dollar in state Medicaid funds results in $4.74 of business activity." During the current economic crisis, policymakers should consider expanding public programs (e.g. health care, child care, food support, and energy assistance) as part of the overall economic recovery package.
The report also makes a great case for why foundations should be funding advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement activities. "If foundations truly want to maximize their impact and effectiveness, NCRP recommends providing general operating support and multiyear funding to effective organizations… so that disadvantaged residents can advocate and organize to strengthen their communities.�?