Public policy and advocacy work key to nonprofit sector success in Oregon

It’s that time of the year when our state legislature is in session and nonprofits are working hard to ensure that state, as well as federal and local spending policies prioritize and safeguard programs that provide critical support to Oregon’s most vulnerable populations.

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in the development and implementation of public policy to promote an informed, healthy, and strong democratic society. We witness and respond to the impact of public policies on the people we serve, whether they are at-risk kids, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, or those expressing themselves through the arts.

Oregon nonprofits can be an important bridge between policy makers and our communities. Effective advocacy builds your nonprofit’s capacity to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people and communities you serve.

Depending on the mission of your nonprofit, public policy and advocacy work can be a critical component of the work you do every day. For others, it can be an important and supportive part of the work you deliver in and for the nonprofit sector. A fine example is this piece on the housing crisis for caregivers by Jeff Carr, CEO of Albertina Kerr that ran in a recent Portland Business Journal edition: And, it doesn’t hurt that engaging in public policy and advocacy can also raise awareness of your organization’s mission, mobilize your constituents, and attract positive media attention.

No matter the degree of investment in public policy and advocacy work, it is a good idea for all nonprofits to develop skills and expertise in this critical area. That’s why NAO is excited to announce that – with support from The Ford Family Foundation – we will be convening an Advocacy Cohort for rural nonprofit leaders 501(c)(3) nonprofits based and serving a rural community in one of these Oregon counties - Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Lincoln, Yamhill and Washington are invited to nominate their organizations. The idea is to bring a group of nonprofit leaders together in a “community of practice cohort.” Together, this group will learn and develop public policy and advocacy skills. Participants will be empowered to engage through trainings, tools, resources and peer-support. The project will increase the social capital of participants by helping them to connect with other leaders. Check here for this exciting opportunity!

I also want to bring attention to the importance of nonprofits – both as service providers and employers – paying attention to the spread of the Coronavirus. We are collecting together information on ways to protect program participants, staff and programs. If any of you have specific resources that are not yet on our list, please let us know and we will add them.

Keep up your great work of making our communities stronger and better places to live!



Jim White,
Executive Director, Nonprofit Association of Oregon