Photo of Melanie Clark from our Today's Omaha Woman magazine.

Collaboration is Key

Nonprofits Advocate for Policy Change

By Melanie Morrissey Clark

Despite volunteering for nonprofits all of my adult life, I still find myself surprised at how much these organizations do, and the impact they have on our everyday lives. The fact is, without them, many of us would not enjoy the same quality of life. These days, nonprofits aren’t just feeding the poor, providing shelter for the homeless and ushering victims of violence to safety.

They are actively advocating for long-term solutions to our community’s myriad of challenges through research, collaboration and, in some cases, even lobbying. In this issue of Today’s Omaha Woman, we take a close look at nonprofits that are advocating for women and their families.

Organizations like OpenSky Policy Institute, which takes a research-based approach to educating Nebraska state legislators on the real implications of making changes to tax laws, among other things. Or like Nebraska Appleseed, which is currently taking on the onerous task of tackling the issue of affordable health care in our state.

Organizations like these spend countless hours doing research, running numbers and scenarios, and reaching out to policy makers who ultimately decide what will happen to us, the citizens of Nebraska. Without these organizations, our state legislators—who are only human, after all, and cannot know everything there is to know about every issue—could be voting without all of the critical facts.

Thankfully, the type of advocacy our nonprofits are engaging in has become fairly sophisticated in recent years, and the vast majority of it is nonpartisan. There is now a great deal of collaboration between nonprofits advocating for similar changes, and there are even nonprofits whose main focus is to facilitate such collaboration.

I know this sounds dramatic, but it’s true: The votes of our elected officials can change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. Although most of us give public policy little thought, there is, in fact, little that impacts our lives more.

The nonprofits are doing their part, but we need to do ours, too. We need to pay more attention to who is running for office and be sure to get out and vote—and encourage others to do the same. We need to contact our elected officials about issues we care about, because they do listen, particularly if enough of us are saying the same things.

Every voice counts, and these organizations, amazing as they are, cannot do it alone.